This post by Duke student leaders Stefani Jones and Sanjay Kishore originally appeared on Huffington Post.
Dear Mr. Cook,
As students from your alma mater, Duke University, we're writing to you — our favorite Duke alum — to join our cause for conflict-free electronics. The time is ripe for change.
You've heard this story before. Violence in Congo has become the worst conflict in the world since WWII, with over 5 million killed by war. The UN has deemed the nation the "rape capital of the world," with hundreds of thousands of women who have been raped. The worst part? Mining of minerals that power Apple electronics — tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold — are subsidizing the armed militias that commit these atrocities.
This is not a new problem. Congress has called for action. Hillary Clinton has called for action. Stanford University, resting in the heart of Silicon Valley, has called for action. And now, over 70 schools, including students at Duke — the institution that helped give you the business skills to lead the most valuable corporation in the world — are following suit.
As one of the first electronics corporations to map out your entire supply chain, we appreciate that Apple has become a national leader in the "conflict-free" movement. But, Apple has never been one to settle for "good enough" — you have always strived for excellence. In the midst of election instability and war, this is a pivotal moment for Congo. This is not a time for rhetoric or strategic plans–it is a time for action.
Change.org has partnered with the Congolese activist Delly Mawazo Sesete to release an international petition calling upon you to commit Apple to produce "conflict-free" electronics by the 2013 holiday season.
Please take a moment to view our video message to you:
We are not asking you to leave the Congo — rather, be a catalyst for change by monitoring your existing supply chains and setting the model for the entire industry.
The mission of our alma mater revolves around a key principle: "to help those who suffer." Every day at Duke, we students are trained to leverage our education to guarantee human rights across the world. We are currently lobbying our administration to enact an investment resolution to encourage leaders like you to stand up for peace in Congo, and we can guarantee that there is a strong constituency here at Duke that wants to buy conflict-free products from Apple. But, as a former Dukie, we have a feeling you already know the right thing to do.
Once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil.
Stefani Jones '14 and Sanjay Kishore '13
The Coalition for a Conflict-Free Duke