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Ohio University has a new committee dedicated to evaluating purchases by the University.
Electronics bought by OU could potentially be made with minerals connected to violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The organization, STAND Against Genocide, is a group of students who are raising awareness for the issue.
They want OU to start purchasing conflict-free electronics.
The University President’s Chief of Staff, Rebecca Watts, explains that the committee was formed to make a change.
“Right now you cannot know for sure if your electronic device contains conflict minerals or not and that's part of the problem,” she continued, “That's why the president wanted this group to be formed, to find out if there's a way that we can meaningfully do something about this issue,” Watts said.
The conflict in the Congo is funded by conflict minerals which include things like tin, tantalum, gold and tungsten.
These minerals are often used in electronics like cell phones and laptops that many people in the U.S purchase.
The money made from the sale of these minerals enables armed groups to continue their warfare.
The rebels use the money to buy more weapons that continue to fund the war.
These groups are known for their brutal tactics against civilians including slavery, rape and even murder.
STAND members are passionate about their cause.
“This is the deadliest war since World War II. We’re talking about 1,100 rapes every single day, we’re talking about $183 million going to the armed troops perpetrating these human rights abuses annually through the minerals that they’re selling for use in electronic products,” STAND President Ellie Hamrick said.
There are ways to find out which companies are aiding the conflict, and which companies are selling conflict-free merchandise.
The Enough Project has surveyed 21 of the biggest electronics companies to see which ones are taking steps toward making conflict-free items.
This survey has a four-color ranking system.
A gold star means that the company is completely conflict-free.
Green means the company is taking action to ensure that its supply chain is conflict-free.
Yellow means there is room for improvement, and red shows that the company has done nothing to change their practices.
The latest move on campus to combat the violence in the Congo is the formation of a committee on socially responsible practices.
This committee is made up of 12 experts who will conduct research on the University purchases and what kind of materials are in them.
There is a lot on the committee’s plate.
“Anytime you have issues that are this complex, you have to be thoughtful about it, and do it right, and do it in a way that actually could bring about some change,” said Watts.