November 15, 2005 Minutes

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
2:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Leung Gallery

Members: President Simmons, Provost Zimmer, Brenda Allen, David Greene, Beppie Huidekoper, Christopher Bull, David Cutts, David Sheinberg, Elmo Terry-Morgan, Robert Klaber, Emma Tai, Michael Williams, James Gagnon, Matt Lease, Robin McGill, Neel Shah, Zachary Ginsberg, Geoffrey Greene, Dorothy Hitt, David Kanig, Tovah Reis, Kisa Takesue, David Bloom, Sarah O’Dowd, and Guy Sanchez were in attendance.

Paul Armstrong, John Cassese, Stephen Foley, Barrett Hazeltine, Joachim Krueger, Gretchen Schultz, Robert Smith, Brian Bidadi, Kate Brandt, Stephanie Birdsall, and Emma Simmons were unable to attend.

The minutes of the October 18, 2005 meeting were approved.

Beppie Huidekoper, Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration, began the meeting by introducing the two agenda items: the University Apparel Designated Suppliers Program Proposal and the Proposal to Divest from Companies Doing Business in Sudan. Ms. Huidekoper explained to the Council that decisions regarding issues such as the designated supplier program are made at the administrative level while decisions concerning issues such as divestiture are ultimately made by the Corporation. She told the Council that its members could play a role in the designated supplier program discussion by forming a subcommittee to review and address the issues raised in the proposal.

Walter Hunter, Vice President for Administration, provided background information on the Designated Suppliers Program which was proposed by the Brown Student Labor Alliance (SLA), in collaboration with the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). The proposed program would require that university apparel be manufactured in designated factories meeting specific criteria. Mr. Hunter then outlined the current apparel procurement and oversight mechanisms in place at Brown. All licensees must agree to the University’s Code of Conduct. Compliance is monitored by the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) and the Fair Labor Association (FLA), both of which Brown is a member. He informed the Council that Brown purchases approximately $1,050,000 in Brown name/logo products from approximately 60 different licensees. Mr. Hunter spoke about a recent conference call in which he and other WRC members discussed the USAS proposal. Future calls will be needed before a consensus can be formed.

Following Mr. Hunter’s report, two representatives from SLA (Chris Eaton, Chris Hu) explained why the Designated Suppliers Program was necessary, and gave specifics of the proposal. It is strongly believed that there is a real need for further improvements in wages and the working condition of apparel workers. The proposal calls for university apparel to be made in a set of designated sweat-free factories in which workers are able to enforce their rights through unionization and a living wage.

Before moving on to the next agenda item, President Simmons asked the Council if there was interest in forming a subcommittee to review and address the issues raised in the Designated Suppliers Program proposal. The Council decided not to form a subcommittee. The President suggested that members of the SLA work closely with the administration on the matter and report back to the Council.

Next Ms. Huidekoper began the discussion of the Proposal to Divest from Companies Doing Business in Sudan by giving an overview of Brown’s Investment Office, including its responsibility for University investments, its investment strategy, and the process for addressing social issues via investments. She then turned to Harold Ward, Professor of Environmental Studies and past chair of the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investing (ACCRI), who spoke about the history of the ACCRI, which was established by the University in 1978 to study issues of investment in companies doing business in South Africa, and the Committee’s charge as it relates to divestiture.

Next three representatives from Students Take Action Now Darfur (STAND)  (Caitlin Cohen, Chris Talbot, Scott Warren) presented background on the genocide in Darfur and the Sudanese economy, and explained the role and impact that divestiture, as outlined in the Proposal for Brown University Divestment from Sudan, would have on putting an end to the genocide. Within the proposal there is a petition for Brown to divest from, and to not invest additional funds directly in, certain companies that do business in Sudan or with the government of Sudan.

President Simmons closed the meeting by asking if the Council felt the University has an obligation to divest from Sudan. The Council voted unanimously in favor of divesting from Sudan. It was agreed that discussion of the issue would continue at the February meeting of the Council.

Due to time constraints, the opportunity for members of the Brown Community to address the Council was deferred.

The next meeting of the Brown University Community Council will be held on Tuesday, February 14 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm in Leung Gallery.

Respectfully submitted,

Catherine Pincince
Secretary of the Brown University Community Council