WHEN DONALD WOODS, the government-banned former editor of one of South Africa's leading opposition papers and one of the country's most outspoken white liberals, fled the apartheid regime over Christmas, he did not know where he was going. Although he apparently finished his book on Steve Biko recently, he was not sure how he could continue to press for change from outside South Africa.
Thus, the University's decision to offer Woods a visiting Nieman fellowship may solve Wood's problem by giving him a working base. Nieman Foundation Curator James C. Thomson Jr. has contacted groups and individuals who will contribute to a special fund for the South African journalist, to enable Woods to provide for his family while publicizing conditions in South Africa.
The University's action shows a side of academic institutions that is all too rarely seen, namely, a willingness to protect a courageous individual. Harvard should now take the next logical step--to divest its holdings in American companies whose South African investments support the apartheid system.
But that action would require the Corporation to recognize the link between political and economic structures, an acknowledgement Harvard does not seem ready to make. In the meantime, one can only applaud the Nieman Foundation's offer.