It is widely accepted that the South Africa divestment campaign was initiated on college campuses. Since this model proved successful in ending apartheid, it begs the question: Why can’t universities that were willing to divest the stock of companies operating in South Africa, do the same with respect to companies doing business with terrorist-sponsoring Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and North Korea?
The answer is they can. But whether they will or not depends on campus activism. University administrators and endowment managers didn’t wake up one day and decide to do the right thing on South Africa. It took a passionate, unrelenting campaign involving thousands of students and professors across the country insisting on the immediate divestment of stocks in companies propping up the apartheid regime in Cape Town.
Among the many lessons of the South Africa campaign, students learned that activism is contagious. What began at the University of California, Berkeley and Tufts University spread like wildfire to campuses across the country and then to state governments, which joined university endowments by banning state investments in companies operating in South Africa. If done correctly, ONE university or college can start a movement that can ultimately take down the terrorists’ sponsors world-wide. But it will not happen unless YOU open a front at your school.
TAKE ACTION NOW
- Pass a Resolution: Propose student government resolutions that 1) Demand that your university disclose the names of any company in which it invests that does business in or with terrorist-sponsoring states; and 2) denounces the investment of university or college endowment funds in any company operating in these countries.
- Create a Buzz: It is easier for administrators and endowment managers to ignore the view of one person than those of scores, hundreds or even thousands of your fellow students. Start a blog or send an e-mail to your fellow students with the primary goal being to attract signatories to a petition to divest university or college investments in these companies.
- Insist on Being Taken Seriously: Make sure every student helps flood the e-mail boxes of University administrators with letters calling for the divestment of these stocks. School officials will seek to stall in hopes that your drive dissipates over time. Accordingly, lay down markers and timetables for action. Ensure that the media is well aware of any administration commitments that are not met.
- Stage a Demonstration: The media responds to dramatic events or “street theater.” After creating a buzz, organize a march and demonstrate peacefully in front of the Administration’s offices. Send a notice of the demonstration to every television station in your state. The cameras will follow even 50 students if you let them know of your plans.
- Engage the Media: Make this issue of central importance for campus, state and local newspapers.