A scheduled forum about an alternative senior class gift to protest the University's investments in South Africa fell through last night when proponents of the traditional gift refused to attend.
Maureen Finn '83 and Mark A. Rolling '83, the co-chairmen of the 1983 class gift fund, stated that they would not attend the debate in a letter which arrived by messenger five minutes before the event, which drew an audience of about 35.
In the letter, the two stated that they had been unaware the event had been promoted as a debate.
"We were asked to participate in an open discussion for the purpose of informing interested individuals about the senior gift," the letter explained.
Posters for the event described it as "an open meeting on South African divestiture: options for senior gifts."
Reached by telephone last night. Rollins refused to comment until he could learn more about what took place at the meeting.
Finn said in a telephone interview after the meeting that the forum was "presented as a debate, and we were informed it wasn't going to be." She refused to comment further.
The Undergraduate Council last Sunday approved the creation of a special fund as an alternative to the traditional contribution to Harvard by the senior class.
The fund will remain in escrow until the University divests itself of investments in companies that operate in South Africa, or the United Nations lifts its call for divestiture. Almost 400 seniors have signed a petition in support of the fund, Michael T. Anderson '83, the drive's leading proponent, said last night.
After a short question-and-answer period about the escrow fund, Anderson, who was slated to debate Finn and Rollins, delivered an impassioned 15-minute speech against the South African apartheid government.
He compared South Africa to Nazi Germany, saying both were examples of countries employing "institutionalized degradation and racial supremacy."
"The only difference between South African and Next Germany is that South Africa doesn't have evens--yet," Anderson said.
Council Treasurer Peter N. Smith '83 said last night that the fund should be formally established by April 25. The Council has-retained Virginia Lee, a Boston attorney, to handle the legal work of creating the fund.
In a related development. Anderson and other supporters of the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee (SASC) yesterday distributed 4000 billets publicizing a pro-divestment rally to be held in front of Massachusetts Hall at 1 p.m. today. The event is intended to call attention to Tuesday's open meeting of the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, said SASC President Brad Manck '83.
The rally is also scheduled to coincide with similar demonstrations being held today at Dartmouth. Columbia, Williams, and Northwestern. The American Committee on Africa has called for the rallies to support six Black South African revolutionaries, now in jail, who blew up a South African synfuel plant in 1979.