Brandeis addresses use of ‘conflict minerals’ in electronics

Photo/Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project

Congolese Army FARDC in North Kivu, Congo

Underscoring its longstanding commitment to social justice, Brandeis University has approved a policy that addresses the use of conflict minerals in the university’s most commonly purchased and leased electronic items.

Brandeis now requires its suppliers of desktop and laptop computers, printers, scanners, and copiers to share the annual reports that electronics manufacturers are required to provide to the Securities and Exchange Commission that demonstrate due diligence in auditing the sources and provenance of potential conflict minerals in their supply chain.  

The U.S. State Department defines conflict mineral as any natural resource that is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country for the purpose of financing the conflict in that region. This includes tantalum, tin, gold, or tungsten, which are commonly used in the manufacturing of electronic products.

“From the founding of the university, a special characteristic of Brandeis students has been how profoundly they care about people around the world and take action to address problems faced by the most vulnerable,” said Provost Lisa M. Lynch. “I am extremely proud of our students and their initiative to address the human tragedies caused by conflict minerals. Thanks to our students’ advocacy, we have now adopted a policy that provides a clear directive to lease and purchase of electronic goods that are made without conflict minerals.”

Earlier this year, members of the Brandeis chapter of STAND, a student-led movement to end global mass atrocities, approached Procurement Services and Library & Technology Services to advocate that Brandeis should join the Enough Project’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, which calls on universities to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to responsibly invest in Congo's minerals sector. Brandeis’ Faculty Senate and Facilities Services reviewed the initiative’s goals, found it to be consistent with the university’s commitment to social justice, and Brandeis administrators agreed to develop a policy that was in concurrence.

Many electronics manufacturers, to be in compliance with SEC reporting requirements, already publish reports on the sources and provenance of potential conflict minerals in their supply chain. If a supplier does not possess or provide such information, Brandeis procurement services will request that the supplier works with an external group to conduct an audit or request assistance from Brandeis STAND members or other similar groups to develop and document such awareness, and to come into compliance.

“It is important to be on the right side of this issue, and this policy clearly demonstrates that Brandeis chooses not to contribute to the pain and suffering associated with conflict minerals,” said Lynch.

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