To the Editors of The Crimson:
By rejecting the Kennedy School student body's petition calling of rthe re-naming of the Engelhard public Affairs Library, Dean Graham Allison has affronted not only his own students but also all those concerned with the fight for freedom in South Africa.
Dean Allison insists that re-naming the library "would do little to advance the cause of freedom in South Africa." Obviously, only the people of South Africa can liberate themselves; but they cry out to us to break the economic, political and psychological ties between South Africa and the West which bolster the racist regime.
The protests against Harvard's investments and the Engelhard library have received continuous press coverage in South Africa. If Harvard were to put its money where its mouth is and support divestiture and re-name the library, the psychological effects of these and similar acts by unions, churches, and universities would reverberate throughout the corridors of power in Johannesburg. With such a change in the American political climate, the South African fear of economic sacntions would be a concrete reality.
Dean Allison also contends that rejecting the Engelhard gift would threaten the "independent pursuit of learning" at the Kennedy School. His full statement reveals, however, the fundamental truth--Dean Allison believes that the well-being of Harvard University is dependent on contributions frequently earned in immoral ways. One does not have to be a university professor of semantics to recognize the blatant contradiction in Dean Allison's remark:
For my part, I believe that changing the name could give offense and demonstrate insensitivity to many people who are dedicated to this University and its purposes and whose financial contributions make possible our independent pursuit of learning (emphasis added)
Harvard is to preserve its independence by being dependent on even the most noxious of corporate donors!
Significantly, Dean Allison's report rails to note in any way Charles Engelhard's role in fostering racial injustice. Perhaps it is necessary to include a brief reminder to him and any others who believe the Engelhard issue is less than clear cut. Charles Engelhard parlayed an inheritance of twenty million dollars into a quarter of a billion fortune through his chairmanship of Rand Mines which controlled an estimated fifteen per cent of the South African gold mining industry during the 1960's.
Despite Engelhard's hollow words about his concern for the "dignity of man" and "improved living conditions," the conditions in his mines were nearly as brutal as those of any other South African mine. Actions speak louder than words. Never by word nor deed did Engelhard condemn the migrant labor system which he enforced and from which he profited. He never once demanded an end to political repression. Engelhard may have been a philanthropist at home, but throwing money about does not absolve him of responsibility for the inhumane methods in which he earned that wealth. He may have contributed money to the NAACP, but the NAACP did not feel obligated to name a building after him.
Should the University honor such a man by dedicating a library of public affairs to him? (Harvard administrators insist that they will accept any gifts as long as there are "no strings attached.") Dean Allison, when pressed by the Kennedy School Black Students Caucus, admitted that there is in fact no contract requiring the naming of the library after Engelhard. If so, why not change the name? Is the Kennedy School frankly admitting that there should be no relationship between morality and public affairs? Must we seek funds from and honor every wealthy donor, no matter how immoral their source of wealth? Should we dedicate a library to a profiteer of slave labor? Are there simply not limits to such expediency?
In the early 1970s students at Princeton forced their administration to refuse to honor alumnus Charles Engelhard. We must not permit Engelhard's wealth to legitimize exploitation in South Africa. Vote yes on question one. Please join concerned students at Mass Hall Wednesday, Dec 13 at 12:45 p.m. for a march to the Kennedy School. If we remain united the Library will be re-named.
Harvard-Radcliffe Southern Africa Solidarity Committee
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