A Chronology of Divestment Activism at Harvard
January 12, 1986: TUTU CALLS FOR DIVESTMENT
Anglican Bishop Desmond M. Tutu calls on Harvard to divest at an appearance sponsored by the South African Solidarity Committee (SASC) and the Institute of Politics.
"And when we get to the other side of this liberation game," the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize-winner says in his speech, "we would like to be able to say, 'You know something, Harvard University was with us."'
Jan. 31: INTERNSHIP PROGRAM ON HOLD
SASC issues a 48-page report criticizing a proposed University program to send Harvard students on internships to South Africa. The activist group urged the program's planners to consult more Black South Africans and to structure the internships so as to benefit the Black majority population there.
The University sends Daniel Steiner '54, vice president and general counsel, to South Africa on a fact-finding mission.
Feb. 8: MAJORITY OF UNDERGRADUATES SUPPORTS DIVESTMENT
An opinion poll conducted by the Undergraduate Council reveals that students: approve of divestment by a 65 percent to 35 percent majority; and that nearly 62 percent want the council to take a more political role.
Feb. 21: BLACK FACULTY PRESSURE HARVARD TO DIVEST
The 280-member Association of Black Faculty and Administrators urges Harvard to divest its stock in companies doing business with South Africa.
March 14: UNIVERSITY MAKES PARTIAL DIVESTITURE
Harvard sells $1.8 million worth of stock in the Echlin Corporation because the Connecticut trucking firm would not furnish the University "with sufficient data to form a judgement on their operations in South Africa. The University still owns $416 million in South Africa-related stocks.
March 21: BOK CANCELS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Following criticisms from Bishop Tutu, the Rev. Allan Boesak, and faculty members, President Derek C. Bok cancels his plan to send students to South Africa.
"You have to try a number of things, and sometimes they don't work," Bok said.
April 4: LULL BEFORE THE STORM
More than 200 anti-apartheid demonstrators rally in front of Massachusetts Hall, and then march to the Cambridge Common on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's death.
April 15: STUDENTS AWAKEN TO SHANTYTOWN IN THE YARD
In the early hours of the morning, SASC members construct a 16-foot high Ivory Tower and seven black shanties in the front of University Hall to protest the University's intransigence on the divestment issue.
April 16: "OPEN UNIVERSITY" COMPLETED
After completing and weatherproofing their shantytown, protesters detail their demands for an "open university," including the creation of a Third World student center and a meeting with President Bok.
April 21: CONSERVATIVES ERECT GULAG
The Conservative Club erects a "Black Tower" and "gulag," to protest University investments in companies dealing with the Soviet Union.
In an address before the Undergraduate Council that same night, Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 states that the University may not always consider this demonstration "a legitimate expression of free speech."
April 25: DEMONSTRATORS "VISIT" UNIVERSITY OFFICERS
After police foil a planned takeover of Wadsworth House by SASC, 70 students visit the offices of three University executives charged with handling Harvard's investment portfolio.
April 29: BOK CONFRONTS PROTESTERS
Bok rolls up his shirt-sleeves and meets face-to-face with students in the Yard to answer questions about Harvard's investment policies.
May 2: HOLYOKE CENTER OFFICE SEIZED
When protesters grab a seventh floor office in Holyoke Center, police shut off access to the Yard by locking gates. Demonstrators staged the seven-hour sit-in to protest Harvard's $8.8 million invested in the Shell Oil Co.
May 6: 17 QUINCY ST. BLOCKADED
In yet another takeover, 40 students block the entrance to 17 Quincy St., forcing Harvard's top governing board to hold its scheduled meeting elsewhere.
May 16: SENIORS CALL FOR SHANTY REMOVAL
With less than three weeks until Commencement ceremonies, a group of seniors circulates a petition asking the University to forcibly remove the shanties if they are not torn down voluntarily by graduation.
Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence follows two days later with written letters to both SASC and the Conservative Club requesting the removal their structures from the Yard.
June 5: DIVESTMENT ACTIVIST ELECTED TO BOARD OF OVERSEERS
At the afternoon Commencement ceremonies, University officials announce that Gay W. Seidman '78 snagged one of seven seats on Harvard's Board of Overseers. Seidman campaigned on a three-member divestment platform--despite a controversial letter from Overseers President Joan T. Bok '51 advising alumni not to vote for the state.
June 7: SASC EVACUATES SHANTIES FOR SUMMER BREAK
Two days after seniors receive their diplomas in Tercentenary Theater and evacuate campus, SASC members quietly dismantle their Ivory Tower and seven make-shift structures.