Students Back Nuke Freeze in Referendum

Students voting on referenda sponsored by the Undergraduate Council last week overwhelmingly endorsed both a nuclear freeze and the divestiture of Harvard's stock in a company with business dealings in South Africa.

Although both questions passed by more than three-to-one margins, only slightly more than one-fourth of all students turned out to vote in the Council's first campus-wide referenda, which were plagued by several logistical problems.

On the nuclear freeze question, proposed by the Radcliffe-Harvard Peace Alliance, 75.8 percent of the voters supported a half to the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States. A call for the Harvard Corporation to sell $6.5 million in Carnation Corp stock received 82.4 percent approval.

Despite the low turnout--a total of 178.3 of 6526 students cast ballots--students involved with the referenda yesterday defended the results, noting a lack of publicity about the voting.

Positive Results


"Positive results show that the referenda were worthwhile," Sesha Pratap '84, chairman of the Council committee which conducted the polls, said, adding that "we definitely have to work on increasing student involvement."

Bradford C. Mank '83, president of the South African Solidarity Committee and sponsor of the divestiture question, said that he hopes the student poll results would influence the Corporation to sell its stock in Carnation, a dairy products firm.

Last year, the Corporation was urged to divest by the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, which based its recommendation on Carnation's violation of a set of fair labor rules for companies operating in South Africa.

Turnout at the polls, ranging from less than 20 percent at the Union, Currier and North Houses to more than 60 percent at Leverett, was lower on average than for the Council's student elections, in which 54 percent of undergraduates participated.

Originally scheduled to end last Friday, voting was extended through yesterday at Mather and Dudley House because of administrative snags and some Council member's disagreement with the use of the Council as a "polling service."