Cameron Redwine
Emiliano Lowe, left, signs a pledge for the group CU Conflict Free at the University Memorial Center at the University of Colorado last week. Group members, from left, are Catie Fowler, Erin Musso and Kinsey Durham.

If you go

What: Sasha Lehznev speaks about the issue of conflict minerals in Congo

When: Friday, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Where: Visual Arts Complex, Room 1B20

More info: Check out “CU Conflict Free” on Facebook

A group of seven students at the University of Colorado began their capstone class project in August in search of an “A.”

But nearly three months later, the students are less concerned with their grade and are more fixed on giving CU a voice in a worldwide technology conflict on where companies get their minerals.

CU junior Genevieve Smith said as soon as the project began the group began to realize this was more then a class assignment.

“We have an amazing opportunity to have our voice be heard and demand change as a leading university,” Smith said. “Universities have a strong and powerful voice, and should be the lead in movements such as this, as they are think tanks and centers for passionate movements.”

The students formed a student group called the Conflict Free at CU and have launched their first awareness week.

Conflict Free at CU’s goal is to give the university a voice in mineral trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — or the DRC — by demanding transparency from technology companies about where they get their minerals.

Tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are commonly mined in the DRC and are used to make cell phones, computers and other everyday technologies. Rebel armies in the DRC exploit the minerals and use violence to force miners to continue working and trade the minerals, which fuels their efforts.

“It’s similar to conflict diamonds,” Smith said. “Except this is something that affects most Americans. Without knowing it, we are indirectly fueling the horrific truths of life in the east — rape, death, disease and chaos.”

The group is proposing legislation at Thursday’s CUSG Legislative Council meeting that would encourage resource centers and the university as a whole to question where their technological equipment is coming from and support overall transparency of the mineral trade.

CU junior Catie Fowler said the group has been asking students to sign a petition in support of the legislation that would accompany the bill proposal at Thursday’s meeting. So far, more than 200 students have signed the petition and Fowler said they are hoping to approach 500 signatures by the meeting.

There will also be a display — a coffin filled with technology representing deaths in the DRC, in the fountain area behind the University Memorial Center today and Thursday.

blog comments powered by Disqus