Following Harvard, Yale, Stanford and other schools, the University has announced that it will divest from companies it believes are complicit in the genocide in Darfur.
Though the University said it currently has no direct holdings in companies operating in Sudan, the new policy — adopted earlier this week by the finance committee of the University Board of Trustees — disallows future investments in companies that directly or indirectly conduct operations that are involved with the genocide in the war-torn region.
University spokeswoman Class Cliatt '96 said Princeton waited until now to withdraw investments because, unlike other institutions that had direct investments in companies involved in Darfur, the University has only indirect ties to such companies.
President Tilghman explained in an e-mail that for the University to act, "we needed to be persuaded that genocide was indeed occurring and that this had been so for some time."
"Furthermore this seemed to be an issue around which there was consensus on campus," she added.
Since 2003, tens of thousands of Sudanese have been killed and millions more uprooted from their homes as a civil war rages between Sudanese rebels, government forces and Arab militias. President Bush and most outside observers have repeatedly referred to the conflict as genocide.
The new policy states that Princeton will not invest in companies who are associated with "those providing significant revenue directly or indirectly to those sponsoring, committing or allowing genocide," "providing the instrumentalities with which to commit genocide where the company knows or should know that those instrumentalities would be used to commit genocide," or "providing aid to perpetrators directly or indirectly that amounts to participation in acts of genocide," according to a University press release.
Though the University currently does not have any direct holdings in companies operating in the region, there are five companies active in Sudan — PetroChina, Sinopec, Tatneft, ABB Ltd. and Bharat Heavy Electronics — with which the University may have indirect involvement through commingled investments, according to a statement released by the Board's Finance Committee.
Following the committee's April meeting, group chair Heidi Miller communicated with these five companies, according to the University press release, asking if each could provide proof that "benefits from their operations ...'would outweigh any direct or indirect support that [their] presence provides to the current regime, which up until now has been regarded as repressive and irresponsible.' "
Should the companies not provide satisfactory answers or refuse to cooperate, the University plans to withdraw investments. Throughout the summer, the University will also investigate the involvement in the Darfur region of other companies with which it invests.
Princeton is not the first university to divest from companies who are involved in the Sudan. In February 2006, Yale revealed its plans to discontinue holdings in oil companies operating in Darfur and to block future investments in Sudanese government bonds. Harvard and Stanford have also withdrawn funds.
After Yale's decision, Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee '69 said that Princeton was not currently considering such a move, noting then that the University had no direct holdings in the country.
"[Divestment] is a topic that the University has been thinking about and working on for almost 40 years now," Durkee said then. "Divestment is not something that the University does without thorough and careful consideration."