An Open Letter on Apartheid

Dear President Bok:

The Harvard Corporation's statement of policy concerning Harvard's involvement in South Africa has left us, as well as many other students with whom we have spoken, extremely skeptical of the Corporation's commitment to take meaningful action against apartheid. In terms of Harvard's role in corporations with operations in South Africa, we feel that Harvard's proposal to examine each case according to the extremely vague guidelines suggested in the report may, in fact, amount to a policy of inaction.

At the very least, it gives no encouragement whatsoever to other shareholders considering sponsoring resolutions or to the large majority of blacks in South Africa calling for corporate withdrawal. However, you do make the argument that there may be cases in which U.S. corporate presence does more to end apartheid than withdrawal would. Personally we do not agree with your argument, yet we are willing to accept that you are sincere in making it.

In order to ensure that Harvard is doing its best to bring about the conditions which would justify corporate presence we therefore suggest the following alteration in Harvard's policy:

Harvard declares forewith its intention to either support or, in those cases in which appropriate resolutions have not been proposed, initiate shareholder resolutions calling for corporate withdrawal except in those cases where the corporations can prove, according to the following guidelines, that, by the time resolutions come to a vote in spring 1979, their presence does more to end apartheid than withdrawal would.

Judgment will be rendered by an independent board of alumni, faculty, students, and administrators elected from their respective constituencies. The members of said board will be free of any personal holdings in the corporation in questions.

The guidelines will be that, as of one month before the vote on shareholder resolutions calling for withdrawal, the corporations will have shown that all of the following conditions have been met:

1. Total elimination of any segregation of the races in all eating, comfort, and work facilities.

2. Institution of equal and fair employment practices for all employees. This would include race-blind hiring practices.

3. Equal pay for all employees doing equal or comparable work for the same period of time.

4. Initiation and development of training ograms that will prepare blacks and other non-whites for supervisory, administrative, clerical, and technical jobs in numbers at least equal to the number of whites in the South African operation of the corporation already holding such positions.

5. At least the doubling of the number of blacks and other non-whites in management and supervisory positions.

6. Improvement of the quality of employees' lives outside the work environment in housing, transporations, schooling, recreation, health facilities, and other social amenities.

7. Establishment of the lowest level of wages at a level sufficient high to provide a generally acceptable adequate living wage.

8. Adoption of a policy permitting nonwhite workers to bargain collectively on matters relating to wages and conditions of employment.

9. Cessation of all sales to the South African government of products used by either its military, police, intelligence or other security forces.

10. Discontinuation of service of those products already owned and/or used by the military, police, intelligence, or other security forces.

We sincerely believe that the above guidelines for action will give substance--a quality that has been sorely absent--to Harvard's claim that it abhors apartheid. More importantly, this proposal will place the burden of justification of corporate presence on those who should bear it--the corporations themselves.

We would like to make public your reply.

We anxiously await hearing from you. Sincerely,   Drew Fixell '78   James D. Smith '79   Jeffrey Stryker '78   James Kriegar '78   David B. Tachau '78   Cynthia S. McCallister '79   Sarah E. Wright '80   Robert W. Kelly '78   Robert Grady '79   Leon W. Nawrocki '78