Students Favor Complete Divestment in UC Poll
Most Vote to Sever Ties With S. Africa
A majority of students who participated in last week's Undergraduate Council referendum on divestment said that the University should sell all of its stock in companies doing business in South Africa.
Fifty-two percent of the students who voted favored a policy of complete divestment, while 35.1 percent supported selective divestment, the council announced yesterday. All 17 voting districts overwhelmingly approved of some form of divestment.
In addition, 82 percent of the voters said the student government should actively pursue the majority vote regarding divestment.
"A majority are in favor of full divestment and a vast majority are in favor of us pursuing divestment as an issue," said Council Treasurer Christoper J. Borgen '91. "That clearly shows that we should further our efforts to promote Harvard's complete divestment from South Africa."
Despite the referendum outcome, student interest in the divestment issue has declined noticeably since the mid-1980s, when repeated protests and mass rallies sometimes numbering in the thousands failed to convince the University to sell all of its South Africa-related stock.
Harvard currently follows a policy of selective divestment, under which it sells its holdings only in companies that are believed to uphold apartheid.
Student voters this year were given a choice between complete divestment, selective divestment or no divestment. When the divestment question was last on a student referendum in 1986, the council only offered students a choice between a policy of complete divestment or no divestment. Sixty-five percent of the undergraduate vote favored divestment in 1986.
Randall S. Jeffrey '91, former chair of the council's ad hoc committee on divestment, called last week's voting a victory.
"The immediate thing we are going to do iswrite up a report based on the referendum'sresults to send to the Corporation and the Boardof Overseers," he said.
Only about 38 percent of the undergraduate bodyvoted in last week's elections, a drop compared tothe 50-plus percent turn-out for last year's vote.
Several members of the council attributed thedrop to disillusionment among upperclass students.Others said that some house committees did notadvertise the elections adequately.
First-year voting districts had significantlyhigher voter turnout than the upperclass houses.The Canaday/Union dorms, Quincy House, SoutheastYard and Southwest Yard districts had the highestvoter turnout, with more than two hundred voterseach. Adams, Dudley, and Mather Houses had thelowest voter turnouts