<< Front page Commentary May 14, 2004

Divest from Sudan?

To the Editors:

Recently on campus, I’ve started seeing fliers from an organization called Students for Clean Money, calling upon the College to divest funds from the murderous, fundamentalist regime in Sudan.

At the time, I was skeptical and I still am. I haven’t heard of any group called Students for Clean Money before and I haven’t been aware of any organized constituency for action on this issue. Likewise, besides these posters, I have not heard of any action or even organizational meetings with regards to divestment from Sudan.

Furthermore, I find it unlikely that the College has any money invested in Sudan in the first place. In the mid-90s, the U.S. and the E.U. placed a boycott on that government, and the civil war has made it unattractive to foreign investment.

In that respect, Sudan is actually an excellent example of how financial pressure can change the direction of a conflict: that boycott eventually forced the government to the negotiating table.

All of these things have made me question whether or not Students for Clean Money really exists. Instead, I suspected that this campaign was concocted to make some point about the campaign to divest from Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

I was furious and ashamed that anyone at this school would be so cynical. Exploiting the suffering of the Sudanese people to make a crass political point flies in the face of everything I’ve come to believe about the student body and the ideals of this college. Despite all our disagreements, Oberlin students are better than that.

So, rather than give in to my darker doubts, I instead call on whoever is behind these posters to come forward and prove those doubts wrong. Furthermore, as a member of Students for a Free Palestine, I call on the members of Students for Clean Money to form a coalition with SFP to advocate for greater fiscal transparency from the College, a goal we both share in common.

Divestment has never been only about Israel. SFP, as a Palestine solidarity group, is specifically focused on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; SFP is using the divestment strategy as a means of using our financial pull in Israel to put pressure on the Israeli military, with the goal of a just resolution to the conflict.

So, I’m pleased to hear that there is another group interested in applying the divestment strategy to their issue and call on Students for Clean Money to contact SFP at sfp@oberlin.edu about joining a coalition for fiscal transparency. These are exciting times and I hope my suspicions are baseless so we can work together in the future.

–Jon Argaman
College senior
Students for a Free Palestine


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