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A Stand on Apartheid


By Gay Seidman

At Harvard, no one seems ready to go as far as the 20 Hampshire students who this week seized an administration building to protest the college's refusal to give up shares in companies that invest in South Africa.

But in their own quiet way, several groups in the Harvard community have begun to request that the University at least take a firm stand against the white-minority regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia.

In one of the largest demonstrations this year--second only to the 500-person turnout that greeted Henry A. Kissinger '50 when he attended a conference on East Asia here last fall--100 students protested a conference sponsored by the DuBois Institute and the Committee on African Studies.

The two-day conference, which ended last weekend, included academicians, businessmen and government officials. Protesters charged the conferees with seeking ways to protect American business interests in southern Africa.

Whether or not it is trying to protect American business in southern Africa, the University is certainly not going out of its way to eliminate it.

The Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR) has recommended certain steps the University should take to affect decision-making in several companies that the student-faculty-alumni group believes are exploiting black labor in South Africa.

The ACSR advised the Harvard Corporation to vote in favor of shareholder resolutions demanding that businesses--including Mobil, Polaroid and Gulf--either cease operations in southern Africa or drop plans for expansion there, depending on whether the committee was convinced the corporation in question was trying to improve both the situation of its black South African employees and blacks in southern Africa in general.

But the Harvard Corporation has refused to accept the ACSR's recommendations, and instead has voted to abstain from the shareholder resolutions.

George Putnam '49, Harvard treasurer and a member of the Corporation subcommittee that determines the University's votes on shareholder resolutions, has said in each case the committee was not convinced that the corporation was acting as badly as the ACSR believed.

So Harvard will almost surely continue to invest in the apartheid regimes.

And if the 1972 takeover of Mass Hall in protest of Harvard's investments in the Gulf Oil Corporation, then allegedly involved in supporting the Portugese colonial regime, is anything to go by, even taking over a building probably wouldn't make any difference.

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