Last Wednesday, March 13, the president’s cabinet approved the Conflict-Free Resolution presented by Eastern Mennonite’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative. The resolution states that EMU will support companies that use conflict-free minerals, specifically in the area of hardware-technology purchasing and consumption.
With the passing of the resolution, EMU became the fifteenth school in the country to formally pass the Conflict-Free Resolution. Many schools in both the United States and Canada have plans to pass similar resolutions, but EMU is the first of the Mennonite institutions.
Conflict minerals are minerals, specifically gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum, that currently fuel the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many of these minerals are used in modern technology, including cell phones, laptop computers, and many other information technology resources.
The DRC is rich in minerals. These minerals finance multiple armed groups, many of whom use violent and inhumane methods to capture areas rich in minerals, thereby facilitating more conflict.
Colleges and universities across the United States have formed a col- lective group, the Conflict-Free Cam- pus Initiative (CFCI), which works individually in its respective college or university to combat the buying of conflict minerals on campuses.
The CFCI on EMU’s campus was founded by seniors Josh Kanagy and Julia Schmidt. In the Spring of 2012, they attended a CFCI conference in Washington D.C. to kick-start the group at EMU.
Josh and Julia spent the Summer of 2012 planning methods to raise awareness on campus. In the Fall semester of 2012, CFCI showed a documentary in Common Grounds, “Blood in the Mobile,” with a superb turnout. From there, the club began drafting a resolution and raising support from the student body and administration.
“It’s been a lot of time and hard work, but now we finally can see the reward,” Kanagy said of the president’s cabinet passing the resolution.
And now that the resolution has passed, it will take effect in direct ways at EMU. The resolution has been implemented into Information Systems’ official policy, meaning that EMU has made a statement to support companies that maintain a stance on using conflict-free minerals.
Jack Rutt, director of Information Systems, has been working with Kanagy and Schmidt on implementation of the resolution. When asked what this resolution means for the campus, Rutt talked of the stance that EMU now declares.
“This means that we tell our vendors that we affirm their stance on sustainability.”
He continued by saying that the vendors that EMU supports already do a good job of using conflict-free minerals. But if another company takes a strong stance on using conflict-free minerals, the resolution states that EMU will support that company. Currently EMU purchases most of their technology from Dell, Apple, Cisco, Aruba, and Ricoh.
Schmidt expressed her passion for the resolution and stressed that it cannot stop here. The word needs to spread, she said, and other campuses need to follow EMU’s lead.
She summarized her aspirations by saying, “I would love to see this movement continue to spread and ultimately see an end to the war in the Congo.”