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Lasell Goes Conflict Free, 20th School to Sign Policy

January 27, 2016

Lasell has approved a new procurement policy that gives preference, when possible, to electronics companies that are not connected with mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo that promote sexualized violence, child abductions, and murder within those regions.

The policy requires the College to consider the policies and practices of electronics companies with the goal of favoring companies that can verify a majority of the minerals used in their products do not come from illegal mines or mines associated with violent practices and smuggling by armed groups in the DRC. The College spends between $250,000 and $300,000 annually for electronics equipment leasing or purchasing.

The policy announcement follows an event in October when the College hosted leading human rights activist Dr. Lee Ann De Reus as Lasell's 2015 Distinguished Donahue Scholar.  De Reus spoke to the campus community about her work as a researcher, activist and advocate for women affected by the violence around illegal mining in the DRC.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a main source of the four most commonly used minerals used in the manufacture of electronics including Gold, Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten. Armed groups that control the mines use rape, murder and other forms of violence to intimidate the workers and their families, according to the advocacy group the Enough Project.

"This resolution speaks to the commitment the College is making to advance social justice and reduce sexualized violence in the Congo. This makes Lasell the 20th college worldwide to take this step," said Professor Jesse Tauriac, Director of Lasell's Donahue Institute for Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion.

In 2013, Lasell was the 50th college to join the Enough Project's Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, and one of 11 in Massachusetts. That same year, student activists formed the Lasell for Congo student organization to raise awareness about conflict minerals and promote policies that would reduce sexual violence in DRC.

In 2014, a contingent of 16 Lasell students lobbied at the Massachusetts State House with the group Boston for Congo in support of Senate Bill S1682, an act relative to Congo Conflict Minerals that would require businesses in the state of Massachusetts to reveal the origins of minerals used in electronics products.

"We have been moved by the passion of students, faculty and staff on this issue," said Lasell President Michael B. Alexander. "Lasell is one of the few Colleges willing to embrace the policies and practices that take an active stance consistent with our mission."

For more information, contact the Donahue Institute for Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion at Donahue@lasell.edu.