We Demand Better, Dickinson!

While researching the new app “GET Mobile,” I learned that the meal plan/ID card system Dickinson uses is run by the company CBORD, which is a unit of Roper Technologies. In my exploration of the Roper Technologies website, I found their Conflict Minerals Filing statement which reads: “Based on the RCOI, we determined that a portion of the 3TG reported by our suppliers originated, or may have originated, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country, may not be from recycled or scrap sources, and that a portion of them have unknown origins.”

I began to research what a “Conflict Mineral” was and why the company had to publish an official statement about its use. As it turns out, there is a law called the Dodd-Frank Act, which, according to a New York Times article, “requires publicly traded companies whose products use certain minerals commonly mined in strife-torn areas of Central Africa to report to shareholders and the Security and Exchange Commission whether their mineral supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Roper Technologies states that they “evaluated its product lines and determined that certain products [they] manufacture contain 3TG necessary to the functionality or production of those products.” “3TG” is “cassiterite, columbite-tantalite (coltan), wolframite and gold, and their derivatives, which are limited to tin, tantalum and tungsten.” Such products are labeled Conflict Minerals because of their material contents and their connection to conflict areas of human rights abuse, including places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). DRC is currently listed on the Human Rights Watch because “armed groups and often abusive security forces continue to carry out massacres, abductions, rape and sexual violence, recruitment of children, and other attacks on civilians with near total impunity.”


Call me crazy, but I don’t like the idea that part of my tuition, no matter how small, may be aiding in a human rights conflict. This may be juvenile, but I really hoped Dickinson College would not want that either. The sustainability Dickinson claims to care about should not only refer to the environment but to human rights as well. It means not contributing to wars or paying companies that use resources from places with severe human rights violations.

Although conflict minerals are common materials, like gold, I believe it is on Dickinson to work towards finding a company that embodies its claims of sustainability. No one said it would be easy, but it needs to be done. An institution as large as Dickinson has the ability and, in my opinion, the responsibility to make ethical decisions about the companies they employ.