Undergraduate Student Government passed legislation that will help bolster the student body voice on campus at its regular Tuesday meeting. While one resolution focused on encouraging the university’s administration to purchase conflict-free minerals, the government also voted to update its code for their electoral system for its upcoming elections.
Student government’s revisions to the 2012-13 election codes also seek to better express the student body voice. The revisions regulate where candidates can campaign and require candidates to be more transparent by presenting their campaign finance plan to the student body financial transparency for the student body.
USC’s chapter of the Student Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy, a national student-led anti-genocide coalition, sponsored the conflict-free minerals resolution. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is currently a deadly scramble by the government to secure control of the mines for minerals used to create electronics. The conflict between different groups seeking control of the mines has culminated in the largest genocide since World War II.
The university is a major consumer and investor of technology that originated from the Congo’s minerals, according to STAND president Francesca Bessey, a sophomore majoring in international relations and narrative studies.
Since the fall semester of 2011, STAND has worked on a resolution that would have USC withhold its patronage from companies that contribute to the genocide. Last spring a petition supporting the development of a conflict-free policy at USC garnered 1,247 student signatures.
The resolution calls for the university’s administration to consider a company’s conflict mineral status when purchasing electronics. By not purchasing from companies that use conflict minerals, this resolution hopes that companies will be prompted to change their own policies. This resolution falls in line with the university’s mission of being “a global institution in a global center.”
“Any action that helps preserve human life is in the best interest of the university and by taking a step to prevent genocide, USC is on the right track,” said Jonathan Stoller-Schoff, a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law.
Lara McDonough, a sophomore majoring in political science and East Asian languages and cultures, hopes that this resolution will garner more student support for the Congo on campus.
“I hope students become more aware of the conflict, and begin making personal decisions to use conflict free minerals,” McDonough said.
Other cities and colleges across the nation, such as Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, have also adopted conflict-free policies.
Speaker Pro Tempore and Greek Senator Matthew Arkfeld, a senior majoring in East Asian area studies, sponsored the resolution along with Residential Senator Jasmine McAllister, a senior majoring in economics and mathematics and neuroscience. Arkfeld believes the student body will benefit from this resolution.
“STAND has done an extraordinary job at gauging student interest,” Arkfeld said. “I believe this resolution adequately represents the voice of the students because it is coming directly from students itself.”