LAST WEEK, seven members of the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR) attended an open forum--sponsored by the Institute of Politics--on whether Harvard should invest in the nuclear arms industry. The rambling discussion on the University's nuclear investments was certainly only a start in the complicated task of forming a comprehensive policy on the subject No conclusive answers were sought, none were provided.
But at least one thing emerges certain from last week's forum And that is that the ACSR itself has to hold more open meetings.
Earlier this spring, of course, the committee--which advises the Corporation on its ethical responsibilities as a shareholder--held a highly successful open meeting on the proposed lifting of Harvard's ban on investing in banks that loan to South Africa More than 300 people jammed Emerson Hall to hear numerous impassioned and reasoned speeches against the change. Thanks largely to the session, both the ACSR and the Corporation rejected lifting the ban shortly thereafter.
Since then, however, the committee has dilly-dallied in arranging another similar open meeting for this year. Through the delaying, the planned open meeting had to be put off until next fall. The evident reason? There was not enough time to prepare adequately for such a meeting.
We find it hard to believe that if seven members of the ACSR could find the time to make it to an unofficial open meeting, the full committee could not have found adequate time for an official date. It doesn't take much--just a hall, some ACSR members, some students and a topic
The ACSR is, among its other functions, a forum through which students can let their feelings be known on topics related to the ethical management of Harvard's immense portfolio. Open meetings are the most direct and forceful way for students to do this.
Open meetings should be held regularly, possibly once a month. Perhaps members of the Corporation would be able to attend these sessions. Students should not have to protest all the time just to get a hearing, as they did to get this year's earlier open meeting. The issues are too important.