Approximately 275 students occupied the lobby of the Columbia University business school Monday to protest the university's investments in companies operating in South Africa.
The sit-in, which lasted from about 5:30 p.m. until the building closed at midnight, followed a demonstration by 700 people in front of Low Library, where William J. McGill, president of Columbia University, was meeting with the board of trustees.
Organizers of the demonstration decided to occupy the business school lobby when McGill refused to meet with them. The sit-in was "spontaneous" and did not disrupt official activities, Harlin Greenman, a student who participated in the demonstration, said yesterday.
During the sit-in, McGill said he would meet the next day with three student members of the college senate and three leaders of the demonstration. This announcement was a major factor in the students' decision to leave the building at midnight, Sharon Klinebaum, an organizer of the demonstration and one of those who met with McGill, said yesterday.
At the meeting yesterday, McGill said divestiture involves legal problems and the board of trustees has a responsibility to protect the university's endowment, Timothy Gilfoyle, a student member of the senate, said yesterday.
McGill thinks the board of trustees will act on a report which the senate will vote on today, Gilfoyle said. The report recommends divestiture from banks but not from other businesses involved in South Africa. The senate's decision is not binding upon the board of trustees.
Klinebaum said students will hold a demonstration today to coincide with the senate meeting.
"We'll continue to put pressure on sensitive points," Klinebaum said