This past summer I spent a lot of time researching the ongoing conflict in eastern Congo (http://julia-exploringtheinfiniteabyss.blogspot.com/2012/06/researching-eastern-congo.html) to lead up to Peace Fellowship's campaign this year to make EMU officially "conflict-free." I am so excited to announce that all of the hard work that I, my friend Josh, and many other fantastic students have put in, has finally paid off! After months of meetings, events, and planning, the President's Cabinet unanimously passed the resolution that we wrote! For those interested, the following is the course of action we took...
- To get students interested and knowledgeable about the conflict we hosted a showing of Blood in the Mobile in our coffeeshop on campus. More than 50 people showed up and stayed to watch the entire 90 minute documentary.
- We then started weekly meetings with interested students. In these meetings we would assign tasks as well as plan awareness raising events.
- We spent a large amount of time writing our resolution, looking at templates from other schools and looking at EMU's policies and past actions, then sending it to different departments for editing until we came up with a version we were all really happy with.
- At the end of October, we set up an informational booth in the campus center for an entire day where students could come learn about the conflict and sign a petition in support of the resolution. We gained around 130 student signatures that day.
- A small group of students then presented to our Student Government Association who officially voted to support our resolution. We also got official support from Campus Ministries, the Bible and Religion Department, the department of Applied Social Sciences, MCC Washington office, and most importantly Information Systems, the department actually affected by the resolution and who makes the electronics purchasing decisions.
- This Spring Josh and I met with our provost, the head of Information Systems, and the university president to discuss the resolution and figure out what our next steps are. Our president recommended we have it passed by the President's Cabinet instead of the Board of Trustees because it would do the same thing and we would not have to wait until June to have it approved.
- On Wednesday, March 13, Josh and I presented at the President's cabinet, where the resolution was officially approved!
We now want to get the word out there! An article was written for our school newspaper that came out last week. EMU's marketing department is now writing a story and will send it out to other newspapers in the area, as well as Mennonite publications. We are so excited about this resolution and hope that other schools (especially the Mennonite ones) will start their own campaigns.
So what does the resolution actually mean? It means that when Information Systems (IS) purchases new electronics, they will look to see how the company is doing in respect to conflict minerals and if available, they will favor verifiably conflict-free products. They will also send out a yearly letter to electronic companies we are in contract with to let them know that EMU cares about the situation in Congo and urge them to work harder towards tracing their minerals to verifiable conflict-free mines. IS will also have a link on their website that has the resolution and letter as well as having the information in their policy manual. Finally, by the President's Cabinet passing the resolution, EMU is getting informing the public and our constituency networks of this decision and urging others to do the same.
Seeing our resolution being officially approved and adopted really means a lot to me. This movement that Josh and I began over a year ago and put in countless hours of research and work has finally paid off. We started a social movement and ended up getting everything we dreamed of and more. I feel like I really accomplished something special and soemthing that future generations who come through EMU will be able to see. In a small way, we made our contribution to help end the war in Congo and bring peace to people who really need it. And it feels really good.
For those interested in reading the entire resolution, please see http://julia-exploringtheinfiniteabyss.blogspot.com/2013/03/eastern-mennonite-university-conflict.html