Stanford’s Investments

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Thanks to one pair of student activists, Stanford University may change some of its investment strategies. According to an article by Katharine Mieskowski in the New York Times:

Stanford University, an incubator for dozens of Silicon Valley companies, has become the focus of a grass-roots effort to pressure the technology industry to crack down on “conflict minerals.”

On Thursday, a committee of Stanford’s trustees considered a resolution to create a new proxy voting guideline for the university’s investments. The guideline would support shareholders’ efforts to make companies trace the supply chain of the minerals used in their products. The board, which met privately, has not announced its decision.

The discussion came about as a result of the efforts of students like Nina McMurry and Angie McPhaul, who, as members of Stanford University’s chapter of Students Taking Action Now Darfur! (STAND), worked to encourage their school to invest only in companies that are transparent about the origin of their materials.

Conflict minerals are materials mined war-torn countries. The problem, as far as many activists see it, is that the minerals (whether used for jewelry or industry) often come out of mines controlled by one political faction; sales of the minerals allow the group to buy weapons, prolonging and escalating the conflict.

The likely effectiveness of the Stanford group’s strategy is somewhat debatable but, as the school’s STAND chapter put it, “given its location at the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford has the potential to play an important role in encouraging… [other] companies to assume supply chain responsibility.” [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer