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Law Review to Divest Holdings Tied to S. Africa

Move Is Reversal of 1984 Decision

By Paul DUKE Jr.

The Harvard Law Review has decided to divest of approximately $113,000 in investments in American companies that do business in South Africa, in protest of that country's apartheid policy of racial separation.

The action, decided Tuesday by the Law Review's trustees and announced yesterday, is the first of its kind by a student organization at Harvard. The 98-year-old Law Review, one of the most prestigious legal publications in the country, operates independently of the University and is completely staffed by second and third-year students in the Law School.

"It's a small amount of money," said David Goldstein, a member of the Law Review and one of the leaders of staff support for the move. "But we think it sends a symbolic message to the University that a mainstream publication like the Law Review--with liberals and conservatives and moderates--feels it should not profit in any way from South Africa."

The Review's decision to divest is the culmination of nearly two years of work on the part of some students and is a reversal of a May 1984 decision by the Law Review board of trustees not to divest.

The divestiture is partially made possible by the decision of Dean of the Law School James Vorenberg '49, in a change of position from last year, not to oppose the move.

The investments are part of the Review's Graduate Treasurer's Fund, which is generated from revenues of the Review's publications. The Review's fund portfolio is currently worth about $335,000. Of the $188,000 of that sum invested in common stock, about 60 percent, or $112,800, is invested in American corporations doing business in South Africa.

"We would like to have followed the University's lead," said Goldstein, a third-year student. "But in mans of our opinions they failed. Now we hope they follow our lead."

In defending Harvard's decision not to divest, President Bok has written three open letters outlining the University's position that shareholder resolutions and others means are more effective at easing apartheid than the symbolic importance of divestiture.

Bok did not return phone calls yesterday.

The Review's divestiture occurs as the ruling white South African government's discriminatory, and often brutal treatment of the Black majority is coming under critical scrutiny in the United States.

Recent months have seen a surge of protest in the United States prompted by the visit to America of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Desmond M. Tutu, stepped-up violence in South Africa and increased forced resettlement of South African Blacks.

Last year's move to divest at the Law Review failed to pass the board of trustees by a vote of three to three. Vorenberg and Graduate Treasurer Ernest J. Sargeant '40, both of whom sit on the board of trustees, changed their positions against divestiture to break the deadlock this year.

Both Vorenberg and Sargeant, who has final control of the fund, said that overwhelming support for divestiture among the Law Review staff led them to reverse their stand.

Seventy two of 92 Law Review staff members signed a petition supporting divestiture last year. This year 74 of 85 editors signed a similar petition that said "We request this action because we believe that it is immoral for the Review to receive profits from economic activities in a nation that is fundamentally rooted in legalized racism and that brutally oppresses the vast majority of its people."

"Two things made me change my mind," said Vorenberg. "First, after two years of petitions it was clear that this was not a passing fad. Second, Mr. Sargeant flatly advised us that the Law Review could divest without any financial loss."

Both Sargeant and Vorenberg said that last year they felt the Review should follow the same investment policy as the University. But support among the three classes at the Law School represented in the petitions led Vorenberg to believe that "the student editors of the Law Review are its working constituency. Their views should be considered with great weight".

In last year's vote, the two student members of the board and Professor Richard Parker voted to divest, while Vorenberg, Sargeant and Professor William D. Andrews opposed divestiture.

Before Tuesday's meeting Sargeant contacted the members of the board and found that "more than a majority of the Trustees share the opinion that, under the special circumstances governing the Review, the views of the student editors of the Review as expressed in their 1983 and 1984 petitions should be recognized," according to memorandum distributed by Sargeant at the meeting.

The University endowment is estimated at $2.324 billion, of which about $460 million is invested in American corporations working in South Africa.

Robert Fram, the president of the Law Review, said that the move to divest came as a "pleasant surprise. I didn't know that some of the members of the board has changed their mind."

"I see it as a form of symbolic speech stating the views of one small segment of the community." Fram added.

Noting that he hoped the move would nudge the University closer to reversing its policy of opposing divestiture, Goldstein said "We don't export South Africa to listen to the Harvard Law Review. But we do think they would listen to Harvard University.

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