Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel for the University, met with House Masters last week to discuss how to improve communication on the issue of South Africa within the Harvard community.
Precipitated by the growing student concern over Harvard's investments in companies with connections to South Africa, the discussion focused on "how we as an educational institution could consider these issues in a more informed way than we seemed to do last year," Steiner said yesterday.
"We've had a great deal of sloganning--I don't think these issues should be decided by slogans in a great university like this," Steiner said, referring to what he called a lack of informed dialogue on the issue.
The Southern Africa Solidarity Committee, in conjunction with other third world campus organizations, last spring held several rallies and demonstrations to protest Harvard's links to South Africa." Sparked by frustration over the Corporation's delay in releasing its report, the demonstrators confronted president Bok last April 24, preventing him from entering Mass Hall.
William R. Hutchison, co-master of Winthrop House and professor of the History of Religion in America, said yesterday the Masters suggested various ways to increase the dialogue on the issue, including discussions in the Houses and in courses.
Some of the Masters aired their concerns that the students had not received adequate information on the corporation's decisions regarding South Africa, he added.
Hutchison said there was some discussion about future demonstrations, but that he and some of the other Masters suggested that they should not be an area of concern.
William H. Bossert, co-master of Lowell House and McKay Professor of Applied Mathematics, said yesterday the Masters and Steiner wanted to ensure that the channels of communication between the administration and the students are open before additional boycotts, demonstrations and other protests occur.
Terming the discussion a "brain-storming," Hutchison said Steiner's meeting with the Masters was not unusual, noting that other administrators have attended the monthly meetings in the past. "It is unusual, however, to wait until you have a demonstration and then have the general counsel talk about how to behave," Hutchison added.