The Administration, though it is playing a waiting game on the Gulf--Angola question, is tilting towards support for the proxy campaign for disclosure of Gulf's role in Angola, and away from divestiture of Harvard owned Gulf stock.
This strategy would ideally appease critics of Harvard investment while maintaining the "maximize-first" criterion for University investment of the Austin Report issued last Spring.
Special assistant Stephen Farber's summary of the Gulf--Angola issues, mailed yesterday to members of the Harvard Corporation, reads much like a military options briefing paper. The conflicting arguments of Gulf and its critics are presented dispassionately, and possible courses of action are outlined. with notes on the relative merits of each.
Farber said last night. "I don't want to skew the decision-making process in any way," and spoke of his desire not to prejudice the Corporation before the Pan-African Liberation Committee has a chance to present its case on April 3.
Yet Farber's organization of the options stresses the imprudence of divestiture in financial terms. Selling the stock would mean brokerage commissions of up to $400,000, and a further loss in revenue if sale were made at Gulf's current low price.
"If the case for divestiture were clear," says Farber in his report, "then Harvard should be prepared to bear these costs. But if the case is not in fact clear, Harvard should avoid the loss of income that might otherwise be spent on scholarships and other important University purposes."
And the theme of Farber's list of pros and cons is precisely that the case for divestiture is not at all clear. Thus he implicitly rules out the Pan-African Liberation Committee's demand.
The United Church of Christ's proxy resolution on disclosure is noted in a separate section of the memorandum. The disclosure proxy resolution asks that Gulf make public detailed information about its role in Angola. The Church group proxy resolution is relatively harmless to all involved, although as Farber said last night, if Harvard were to support the disclosure campaign it would be the first antimanagment vote of Harvard stock and thus might set a precedent.
Hardliners on investment policy on the Corporation, like Treasurer George Bennett, will likely oppose even this concession.
The Administration is between the Seylla of student protest and the Charybdis of the Corporation's traditional intransigence on the investment question. Bok's safest course of action, and that most clearly derived from Farber's presentation of "the facts," would be to present a liberal face on the disclosure question, isolating the supporters of more radical demands, while leaving the larger issues of Harvard's investment policy intact