More than 75 Harvard students and faculty members gathered last night to serenade Corporation members with songs urging Harvard to divest from companies that make nuclear weapons, but apparently none of those seven men were on hand to hear the musical appeal.
The protesters sang and held candles underneath the windows of Dana Palmer House, where members of Harvard Educators for Social Responsibility--the Ed School group that organized the vigil--said they believed some Corporation members were staying before today's meeting.
Employees at the Faculty Club and Dana Palmer House, however, said that no Corporation members were staying in those buildings.
Before last night's rally, Corporation members Hugh Calkins '45 and George Putnam '49 said they would be attending a Board of Overseers dinner Sunday night.
Putnam said that the Corporation would not discuss any investment issues at its meeting today.
Organizers said the event was a success, even if no Corporation members were staying in the area. "They'll certainly hear about it even if they're not here," said Belle Zars, a group leader.
"We don't really know what their stand is. They may be very supportive," she added.
In addition to singing, the group circulated a petition stating that Harvard should divest from companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons.
Concern has grown this fall over Harvard's more than $100 million of nuclear investments. The Corporation is expected to receive a report on that topic from the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR) this spring.
Putnam said the Corporation---Harvard's equivalent of a Board of Directors--is waiting for the report and has not discussed the issue this year. "We haven't really focused on it at all," he said.
ACSR Chairman Walter J. Salmon, Roth Professor of Retailing at the Business School, said recently that a subcommittee is drafting a report that would offer two approaches for the advisory committee to make a recommendation to the Corporation on Nuclear investments. The ACSR may either support shareholder resolutions that ask companies to limit or reconsider their involvement in nuclear weapons production, or may recommed abstaining or opposing such largely symbolic proposals, he said.
ACSR member Noel F. McGinn, a lecturer at the Ed School and member of Educators for Social Responsibility, said last night he was attending the vigil "as part of my education."
"I'm convinced the Corporation should take an activist stand on nuclear investment." McGinn said. But he added he is not sure if he prefers "divestiture or certain pressure on management to take corporate action."
Group organizers said they planned the candlelight vigil this month because of the upcoming holidays. The demonstrators sang Christmas songs with lyrics that were altered to include verses urging divestiture.
Michael S. Abramowitz contributed to the reporting of this article.