Pounding on the doors of Harvard power, representatives of the Harvard and Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid (HRAAA), joined by students and faculty, presented more than 4000 signatures endorsing a slate of pro-divestment candidates for the Harvard Board of Overseers.
After opening the doors in response to group members' loud knocking, University officials allowed nine people, including two of the three media representatives at the event, into the headquarters of the Harvard Corporation at 17 Quincy Street. Police excluded a Harvard Crimson reporter and did not allow him to switch places with a Crimson photographer, who was admitted.
Officials told a reporter from Boston radio station WBCN to switch off her tape recorder during the formal acceptance and counting of the HRAAA signatures.
University officials would not comment on the submission of the signatures.
Collected from alumni worldwide, the signatures are more than twice the 294 per candidate necessary to qualify the five divestment candidates for the spring elections, according to Dorothee Benz '87, executive director of HRAAA.
Since 1986, three candidates backed by HRAAA have been elected to the 30-member board. Five members come up for re-election every year. A vote of the full board on the issue of divestment may take place this spring.
Speaking to the faculty, alumni and student group before the signature presentation, Professor of the History of Science Everett Mendelsohn said, "Those who govern Harvard should take their responsibility seriously. They ought not repress the voice of those who teach and learn here."
"We all respect and support Harvard," said Ephriam Isaac '63, a candidate for the Board. "If Harvard, as a leading educational institution does not set a moral example, who will," he said.
Running for seats on the Board along with Issac are Evelyn Fox Keller '63, Ruth Messinger '62, Michael D. Tanzer '57 and Nell Irvin Painter, who graduated from the Graduate School of Education in 1974. Harvard will mail ballots for the election to more than 200,000 alumni in April, and the election results will be announced at Commencement on June 9.
Benz said the HRAAA-backed alumni running for the five open Board seats were "not single-issue candidates."
"While we were organized because of concern over a single issue, our candidates care about everything from tenure to house life," Benz said.
The Harvard/Radcliffe Southern Africa Solidarity Committee (SASC), also supports the HRAAA candidates, said SASC member Elizabeth E. Ruddnick '88. "We've heard about the excellence of what they teach us here, what we have to realize is that they don't want us to practice what we learn."
In addition to divesting South African holdings, Benz and Ruddinck said they hoped to open and make accessible the top circles of Harvard power. "The Corporation and the Board of Overseers don't talk," said Benz.
Ruddnick said the campaign on behalf of the divestment candidates was "an effort to bring a bit of reality" to the Board of Overseers, which she called "insulated" from Harvard campus opinion.