Council Backs Pittston Strikers
Endorses Worldwide Fast for China Democracy Movement
In its most political decisions of the year, the Undergraduate Council last night called on the University to divest from the strike-torn Pittston Coal Company and endorsed an international fast in memory of the students massacred in Beijing last spring.
The Pittston measure asked Harvard to initiate "immediate and full divestment" against the company, which has been embroiled in a labor dispute since last April.
Harvard owns about 310,000 shares, or roughly 1 percent, of the corporation's stock, making it the 19th largest shareholder. Also, Robert G. Stone '45, who sits on Harvard's seven-member Corporation, is on the Pittston board of directors.
Council members hotly debated whether to call for dialogue with President Derek C. Bok and the top governing boards or whether to demand divestment.
But an amendment asking Harvard to "clearly define the University's stance on in its involvement in the Pittston Company," instead of urging divestment, was defeated, 32-30.
"Tonight was a good indication that the council's not afraid to question the ethicality of the University's investment policies and of politically volatile matters," said L. Cameron Kitchin '91-'92, who presented the resolution.
At last night's meeting, the council also asked the Harvard community to participate in a fast from sunset May 12, 1990, to sunset the next day to honor the anniversary of the Tienanmen crackdown. The council also pledged that each member will telephone another student government asking them to join the "symbolic fast."
"Such an enthusiastic reception from the council and that they will help make phone calls around the nation was beyond my expectation," said Oscar K. Shu '93, a fast organizer and the president of the Harvard Students for a Democratic China.
But council members shot down a proposal to ask Harvard's Dining Hall Services to give the money it will save from the fast to charity.
Donating the money would detract from the fast because "the point is not to transfer money, but [instead] not to eat," said Noam Bramson '91, formerly vice-chair of the council.
And some members questioned whether the council should even take a stand on such a highly politicized issue.
"The fast is a bit out of our league," said member Mark A. Gragg '91. "If we want to organize a protest, okay. But it's not the UC's role to sponsor an event personally."