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President’s Ad Hoc Committee Discontinues Meetings

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An enthusiastic push of student activism will continue from some Ohio University students despite the current decision for the Ad Hoc Committee for Socially Responsible Practice to not meet.

Pressure from STAND Against Genocide for the university to adopt policies in favor of conflict-free minerals resulted in the committee’s formation by President Roderick McDavis. The organization’s goal is to fight against genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other areas whose production of illegal minerals contributes to violence.

OU released a statement on conflict minerals recommended by the committee earlier this fall. Although it will remain intact to be called on by McDavis when necessary, the committee is not currently meeting.

STAND described it as a road block from university administrators, but John Biancamano, chairman of the committee, insists the committee has done its job.

“We completed the task assigned to us and we do not have any other items on our agenda,” said Biancamano.

The issue seems to come from a disagreement on what exactly STAND expects of the committee compared to what the university currently considers possible.

STAND approached the university with three demands: a symbolic statement, an investment policy and a procurement policy. All three would push OU in a direction of purchasing as many conflict-free products as possible.

But procuring those products requires third party certification of companies currently only self-reporting steps taken to source their minerals, President McDavis said in a statement.

“We are very aware of the need to utilize our collective buying power to encourage companies to become conflict free,” he said. “We will continue to monitor the procurement climate and take appropriate steps to support the purchase of certifiable conflict-free products as they become more available.”

STAND co-President Sarah Volpenhein believes it’s necessary for more policies across the board, particularly to prepare for the future generations at OU.

“We don’t know if the administration after McDavis will put the same emphasis on it,” said Volpenhein.

Ellie Hamrick, media and public relations chair for STAND, believes the point of the policy isn’t only to announce OU’s commitment to purchase conflict-free products. OU also needs to pressure companies to adopt policies knowing OU will give them preference if products are also economically feasible, she said.

“I think they’re kind of looking at STAND and saying, ‘we did what you want, what more do you want?’” said Hamrick. “We are genuinely happy about that, we’re proud of our school. But they’ve only done one third of what we want.”

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