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February 09, 2007

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Frederick Hamilton

LAK, I am not trying to find hypocrisy where none exists. I contend it is hypocritical to claim you should not allow employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, claim the DOD does just that and then not hold to your beliefs because of a loss of money. Sorry, that is hypocritical. Now I agree with you that it is not a huge hypocrisy issue (a small one if you will), but it does exemplify how everyone (well not everyone, there are some law schools who have forgone federal funds to keep the DOD recruiters off their campus) will sublimate their standards if enough money is involved. That's all.

Again, I in this instance agree with the University of Chicago. The amount of federal funding for research at the university would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars and the Solomon Law is constitutional.

It is just the old addage that now that we determined you can be bought we just have to decide on the amount. That to me is hypocrisy. But I like you consider it a small hypocritical sin.

LAK

Not really when you are talking about collective action, a law school and not one individual. There are many interests at work. Take it from someone who sepcializes in colelctive action issues. If you have problems with teh lawschool buddy, I have a few large corporations I'd like to show you.

Nor is it hypocrisy to subject certain ethical considerations to cost benefit analysis. It is not the willy nilly suspension of ethics you make it out to be. I don't like to break laws, but I'll J-walk sometimes too, especially if I'm in a rush. There are cost bounds to all ethical and moral considerations as well. That the cost comes in cash shouldn't cloud your reasoning.

Frederick Hamilton

LAK, Agreed. It would be interesting to know how the decision making to allow the recruiters back on the law school campus like any other recruiters once the FAIR v Rumsfeld SC decision came down upholding Solomon. Did the university have to tell the law school to get in line or did the law school admin simply change their policy on their own regarding DOD recruiters.

NShah

I'm pleased to see that this debate is going on, but all of the commenters show an ignorance of the specifics of the issue which is hobbling a real discussion of the merits of divestment.
The issue is not "companies active in Darfur," but *certain* corporations active in Sudan. This is why there is a direct chain of causation: Sudan has no economy to speak of, and is entirely dependent on its oil sector, which is in turn entirely dependent of foreign capital. Each year that oil revenues have increased, the military budget has increased in lock-step. You can see this plainly in IMF reports from 1999-2005. The presence of these corporations is based on a contract which provides royalties to the Khartoum regime, which the regime turns around and uses to arm militias, and then uses to massacre its citizens. If these corporations temporarily froze operations until a settlement was reached, Khartoum's military capacity would soon diminish.
That is why the Kalven report was not properly applied - there is no neutral position, either holding the investment (direct complicity) or not. Furthermore, from memos created by the Kalven Committee, it is clear that when they wrote the clause regarding "exceptional circumstances," what they specifically had in mind was the Holocaust.
The slippery slope argument is a convenient one, but not at all realistic. Hundreds of institutions have accepted the situation in Darfur as clearly crossing a line where corporate activities are acceptable, or can be solved constructively through engagement, and therefore investments are not morally tenable. Not a single one of these institutions has turned around and divested from Israel - the situations, the underlying logic, its all totally different.

Nonprofiteer

I honestly cannot understand what principle of academic freedom would be jeopardized by the University's deciding not to profit from corporate activities that underwrite genocide. Is the notion that people who support genocide would have their free speech chilled? Or is it that corporate activities are none of the University's business? If that were true, the University would stop investing in corporations. Or is it that it's impossible to decide whether something less than genocide would justify the University's taking a position? I don't see why we have to decide that when we're faced with is, precisely, genocide.

This is the same conversation we had when I was in college and the question was South Africa. The University was wrong then but there was nothing I could do about it. It's wrong now and therefore I've stopped supporting it financially. Doubtless its profits from looking the other way in Africa will be sufficient to make up for what it's lost.

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