Starting a successful conflict free mineral policy requires teamwork. For Champlain College, campaigning took the dedication from three separate classes to get the resolution endorsed by our president. We divided our class in two groups, an outreach group to raise awareness about our mission (as well as the mission of Ibutwa) and another group to focus on editing the policy and researching.
Students in the out reaching group shed light on the prevalent gender based sexual violence, as it became clear that the genocide in Africa is paid little attention to by major media. Students from our class tabled with Cleophace to talk to other students about the unfortunate dynamics that fuel the chaos in the Congo. We handed out brochures with facts about the crisis to provide students with information about the contributing factors that continue this vicious cycle of unsustainable consumption, both here in America and in the Congo. A fellow student from the outreach group, Gray Robinson, created and printed red hand stickers which were put on our electronics to symbolize the bloodshed that consumers are almost entirely disconnected from. This symbol kept the conversation going amongst students, even when we were not on campus tabling with information about it. We also made sure to print out the graph which shows the status of companies conflict mineral rankings. Morgan Blanchard, an Eco-rep and environmental policy major, created wallet sized handouts that recognized the estimated six million people who have lost their lives since the mid nineties alone. She also shed light on the horrible statistic that estimates about 1,125 cases of rape occur each and every day in the Congo. Another dedicated student, Haley Parent wrote an article about our efforts so that we could spread the word on as many media outlets as possible.
Seeing that the rebels have more leverage than the average citizen because they assert their dominance over females through acts of sexual, emotional & physical violence, countless families have been broken due of these acts of terror. After a woman has been victimized, she often gets stigmatized and the husband who regularly leaves the family behind. It’s traditional to leave a woman after she has been tainted, as the odds are high that she has contracted HIV AIDS after this tragic occurrence. Sexual and physical violence ruins communities and certainly inhibits society from progressing, especially in a developing nation. The globalization class that campaigned the year prior to this past semester held a film screening in the efforts of raising awareness toward the implications from the mineral trade. This is how they got the faculty and staff on board with our mission, as many consumers are unaware about the circumstances in the DRC. We followed their lead this year by also showing short films on campus and brought our petition with us to acquire additional signatures. Having a petition showed the school that our interest was strong in becoming a conflict free school.
The first step in recovering an area that has been struck with so much devastation is recognizing the flaws in the system. We must revive the Congo, seeing that our dependence upon it will not vanish. Giving consumers the knowledge they need to use their purchasing power in more responsible ways going forward was one of our greatest desires with this campaign. At this point in time, so few mines can ensure that their minerals are certainly not connected to any violence, indicating that the demand for conflict free goods must increase for these initiatives to prosper and advance. The conflict mineral free movement needs to gain as much momentum as possible NOW and it will with your help! College students got the civil rights movement off the ground and history is repeating itself. There are major strides to be taken for our world to become the socially & ecologically equitable place it has the potential to be. The more establishments to pledge to support companies that strive to improve their transparency of the minerals that go into their products, the better!
Campaigning this past semester while the presidential campaign was happening has made many students realize that voting with our dollars is just as important as voting within the political system. Arguably, wisely using your purchasing power within the market has more significance within the system at large. When we buy from companies, we encourage growth in their investments, which is why it is so important to work together as a community to talk about how we can contribute to sustainable development. As Bernie says, "It's not me, it's us". This revolution of consciousness is occurring one individual at a time and we must join forces to shatter the old paradigm (considering it is enabling genocide & mass environmental degradation). Intel is one of the major companies that has invested in the area to mitigate these complex and gut wrenching issues. Please check out and share this list of companies, so that you and your school can support businesses that consider people, the planet and then profits.
I would be more than happy to share the policy that passionate Champlain College students have created which prompts conscious consumption from your school as the institution purchases technology in the future- if you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more campaigning tips and resources, thank you!
Morgan Blanchard created these informative handouts while we campaigned