Students lobby for Congo at State House Reply

By Emily Kochanek – News Editor

Psychology Professor Jesse Tauriac brought a group of 16 Lasell students to the Massachusetts State House to lobby with the group Boston for Congo in October. The bill the students were lobbying for was House Bill H. 2898, an act relative to Congo Conflict Minerals, which would require businesses in the state of Massachusetts to reveal the origins of minerals used in products.

The bill is an extension of a national bill passed in 2010 but provides no consequences for companies that fail to disclose mineral origins. Boston for Congo co-founder, Garrett Moore, said, “While we have companies talking about conflict minerals, we don’t have them doing enough.”

Moore was excited to see so many students in attendance. While many bills take an average of 10 years to pass the House and Sen- ate, Moore was optimistic.

“To see the support that we have today, I don’t think it’s going to take ten years,” said Moore. “The fact that the majority of the people in this room are students says something… When students take the them to go and speak to the legislatures, it makes a big impact on their day.”

The group visited three offices within the State House: Senate President Therese Murray, House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo. President Murray and Representative Dempsey’s offices listened to Moore speak about the bill as well as Congolese refugees within the group tell their personal experiences.

Tauriac was introduced to the conflict mineral issue through the play “Ruined” which documented the violence against women in the Congo. “I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move,” said Tauriac on the play. After the play, he stayed to hear more information from the group Congo Action Now! and signed up to get involved. Through Congo Action Now!, Tauriac became involved in the newly formed Boston for Congo.

“I realized just how incredibly important it is for student voices to be hear, to be acknowledged. I also recognized that students have so many things that they are passionate about and they have so much energy they want to channel in positive directions,” said Tauriac.

“The trip went well,” said Tuariac. “I think that it reflected very favorably on our campus and on our community… [I] think it provided a vision for the kind of social activism that Lasell students are capable of.”

Among the students in attendance was sophomore Eva Katana, a Congolese immigrant who was directly affected by the violence in her home country. She immigrated with her parents from the Congo when she was six in 2001. “That was my first time being a part of something like that […] that was very special to me that I was a part of it,” said Katana. “I definitely want to do more if I can. I’m not an expert on the subject but my parents, it’s very close to them because obviously they grew up there […] so they love that I was going there and were telling me ‘You need to learn more about this.’”

Lasell is also one of only 50 colleges and universities that are a part of a conflict-free initiative through the enough project. “It really expresses our commitment to engaging this issue. My hope is that we will be able to strengthen our commitment to the Congo and look at the policies and practices in place for procuring electronic devices,” said Tauriac.

To learn more, the Lasell for Congo Club will be presenting about conflict minerals during the Connected Learning Symposium.

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