Roosevelt, at Shanties, Calls on Harvard to Divest
Standing in front of the Harvard Yard shantytown yesterday, Eighth Congressional District candidate James Roosevelt Jr. '68 called on Harvard to divest its $416 million in South Africa-related stockholdings.
"Institutions that call themselves world-class can no longer be tied to the cruelest class system in the world," Roosevelt told a group of about 25 in front of University Hall.
Roosevelt said he supported the use of shanties as "a demonstrative, peaceful means" of protest against Harvard's investments in companies doing business in the apartheid state.
The shanties are "the most tangible symbol of the kind of student protest that Jim is backing" on college campuses, said Roosevelt's press agent, Mark Jurkowitz.
Harvard Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 donated $500 to Roosevelt's campaign last calendar year, according to campaign records. Steiner is chairman of the committee that oversaw the much-criticized and recently cancelled South Africa student internship program.
The candidate also announced his personal divestment of about $8800 worth of AT&T stock, as well as the donation of about $100, which he received from the stock's dividends since November, to Bishop Desmond M. Tutu's scholarship fund.
AT&T announced two weeks ago that it has substantially severed ties with South Africa.
Roosevelt also endorsed three candidates running for Harvard's 30-member Board of Overseers on a pro-divestment platform.
He demanded that the University fund a "full alumni mailing" on behalf of the three divestment candidates. He did so in response to a letter from Overseers President Joan T. Bok '51 included with a statement of Harvard's position toward divestment in the official election packet. The letter cautioned alumni against voting for candidates running on a single issue.
Roosevelt then displayed his Overseers ballot to the crowd, showing his votes for the three pro-divestment candidates.
In addition, Roosevelt requested that an "independent agency" be hired to count the ballots in the Overseer election.
After attending the first 15 minutes of President Derek C. Bok's public discussion about divestment in front of his Massachusetts Hall office yesterday afternoon, Roosevelt responded: "I respect President Bok's view, but I've come to the conclusion that half-way [measures] don't work."
Roosevelt said he supports Bok's statement that students should help elect legislators who promise to put economic sanctions on South Africa.
Roosevelt, who is the grandson of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt '04, called his chances of winning the seat vacated by House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill "very good. The campaign is going well. My name recognition has tripled."