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Brandeis University Goes Conflict-Free

WALTHAM, MA – Student activists are celebrating the announcement from Brandeis University of a new policy to ensure computers and other electronic equipment they purchase are not connected to killing, child abductions and sexual violence in the mining sector of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Spurred by an international student movement called the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, the procurement policy requires that the makers of all of the university's most commonly purchased electronic equipment be surveyed to determine possible connections to illegal mining and smuggling in eastern Congo by violent armed groups.

Annie Callaway, senior advocacy associate at the Enough Project, says: “The Brandeis resolution shows how far the conflict-free movement has come. Brandeis is the 19th school worldwide to change its procurement policy to favor companies working to make their products conflict-free and support the livelihoods of Congolese miners and their communities. Thanks to the hard work of students leading the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative at Brandeis, the university has taken an important extra step by committing to survey companies on their conflict mineral policies. This proactive industry engagement by Brandeis will further amplify the call for products made with conflict-free minerals sourced from eastern Congo.”

Gina Gkoulgkountina, Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) student leader at Brandeis, says: “After three years working to pass a conflict-free procurement resolution, I am proud to see Brandeis joining the growing community of schools actively supporting peace in Congo. Working with the Library and Technology Services, procurement and administration staff to achieve this has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I am confident Brandeis will implement this critical policy in a thorough, responsible manner.”

Lisa M. Lynch, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis University, says: “From the beginning, a special characteristic of Brandeis students has been how profoundly they care about people around the world and taking action to address problems. Today, I am extremely proud of our students and their initiative to address the human tragedies caused by conflict minerals. After advocacy by our students who are involved with the Enough Project, our policy committee agreed that the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative is consistent with Brandeis University's commitment to social justice and voted unanimously to make Brandeis a Conflict-Free Campus. We will use the new policy to hold our suppliers and vendors accountable to these standards.”

Brandeis spends an estimated $4 million annually on computers and other products that are potentially affected by the new ”conflict-free” policy. The resolution builds momentum for statewide conflict minerals legislation in Massachusetts.

About the Enough Project
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research in conflict zones, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. For more information, visit www.EnoughProject.org.

About the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative
An initiative of the Enough Project’s “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign, the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) draws on the power of student leadership and activism to help support peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By encouraging university officials and stakeholders — both of whom are large purchasers of electronics and powerful spokespersons — to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to responsibly invest in the minerals sector, students are voicing the demand for conflict-free products from Congo. Comprehensive reform is needed in Congo to bring about sustainable peace - now is the time is for students to lead the conflict-free movement. Join us: www.raisehopeforcongo.org/campus

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