MADISON-The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System on Friday voted to prevent university funds from being invested with companies that support or abet acts of genocide in the country of Sudan.
“This is the right decision if we are to be humanitarian and responsible stewards of university funds,” said Regent Charles Pruitt.
Pruitt asked the Board to consider the divestment, noting that the university could contribute to a critical mass of institutional investors in discouraging business activity that supports acts of genocide occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The vote to divest funds from these companies is similar to recent actions by colleges and universities elsewhere in the United States.
A resolution approved by the Board explained that U.S. sanctions on Sudan include a ban on importing or exporting of goods and technology to Sudan, with the exception of humanitarian goods and certain agricultural products, but these sanctions do not apply to non-U.S. firms.
The Regent vote directs that UW System assets held in separately managed accounts, over which the Board of Regents serves as trustees and fiduciaries, shall not be invested in companies that do business with the Sudanese government or have been complicit in the Darfur genocide. Investments will also be prohibited in companies that provide military equipment, arms, or defense supplies to any Sudanese domestic party. Where assets are invested through mutual funds, the fund firms will be notified of the Board’s action and asked to adopt similar policies.
The directive may require divestment of current holdings and screening out of some securities to prevent future investment in them, the resolution said.
The Board will allow investment in companies that promote social development for the whole country, such as firms that provide medicine and medical equipment, agricultural supplies and agricultural infrastructure, or educational opportunities. Regents will also consider reinvesting with companies that cease non-desirable business operations with Sudan.
The Regent action will be shared with UW foundations that manage private funds on behalf of UW institutions so they can consider a similar policy.