Black Students Seize Mass Hall
Action Follows Decision to Keep Gulf Oil Holdings
The occupation of Massachusettts Hall by about 25 members of Afro and the Pan-African Liberation Committee (PALC) came only 14 hours after President Bok had announced that the Harvard Corporation would no sell its stock in the Gulf Oil Company.
Members of PALC and Afro reportedly decided to take this action during, a three hour closed meeting last night. The two groups have refused divulge exactly what happened at the meeting.
Protest over the Gulf issue began on February 24, when PALC and Afro sponsored a temporary mill-in at University Hall. The two groups charged that Gulf, through its investment in Portuguese colonies in Africa, "facilitates the daily slaughter of Africans" and that "Harvard is deeply implicated in this crime." Harvard owns 683,000 Gulf shares worth $21 million.
Later that evening president Bok said that Portugal had inflicted 'grave wrongs" against the Angolan people. Bok promised to arrange a meeting between representatives of PALC and the Harvard Corporation.
On March 8, Stephen B. Farber '63, assistant to the President, released a 13 page report outlining the arguments both for and against divestiture. The report drew no conclusions.
Farber presented the following arguments against divestiture:
* Divestiture would transfer Harvard's share to other investors who are not as responsive to social problems as Harvard.
* Immediate divestiture could cost Harvard "up to several million dollars."
* Gulf's contribution to the Portuguese government is not crucial in maintaining Portuguese rule in Angola.
In response to Farber's report PALC issued a 20-page position paper on March 20. The brief stated that Gulf's payments to Portugal eased the strain on Portugal's military budget and provided the Portuguese government with an important source of foreign exchange currency.
The brief further charged that Gulf gave Portugal access to oil-a vita strategic commodity in the government's war against Angolan liberation forces.
In the conclusion of the position paper, PALC said that 'economic imperatives" prevented Harvard form selling its stock in 54 companies currently operating in Angola. PALC stated that it was singling Gulf out for attack because Gulf was "the single corporation most directly injuring the people of southern Africa."
On April 4 PALC representatives met with the Corporation. The Corporation then promised to announce its decision on the matter within the next ten day.
Yesterday Bok released the statement explaining hat the Corporation would not sell its Gulf stock and would abstain from voting on a proxy resolution requiring Gulf to issue a report disclosing its operations in Angola.
the Corporation presented three major reasons for its refusal to divest. They were:
* Harvard's divestiture would not cause Gulf to withdraw form Angola.
* Gulf' withdrawal from Angola, should it occur would not "serve the cause of Angolan independence."
* Harvard, by selling its Gulf stock, would lose its power "to influence Gulf's policies in a constructive manner."
'Repressive and Inhumane'
The Corporation stated that, as a general principle, it is not "morally wrong" to invest in comapnies which deal with government engaging in "repressive and in humane" actions.
Harvard will ask Gulf to set forth its plans for further improving its employment, training, and overall management policies. The University will also send a representative to Angola to study Gulf's performance.
Early this morning, from Massachusetts Hall, PALC and Afro declared Harvard's position "morally bankrupt."