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MIT alumni activists yesterday announced the formation of the MIT Endowment for Divestiture, modeled after the Harvard Endowment for Divestiture, which began in 1983.
The Endowment will attempt to raise money from MIT alumni as an alternative to the alumni fund.
The money will be held in escrow until the MIT Corporation divests the $160 million it has invested in companies which have dealings in South Africa.
If the University does not divest by 1994, the Endowment will donate its funds to Amnesty International and the United Negro College Fund. Until that time, the Endowment monies will be invested in the Calvert Fund, a money-market account with no investments in South Africa-related companies.
John Carlos Correa, MIT Class of '81, said that the alumni decided to start the Endowment because MIT President Paul Gray recently made a "definitive and final statement" against divestment despite earlier promises to include all members of the community in the decision-making process.
Gray said that divestment was "symbolically important but practically irrelevant," and that MIT's policy would remain unchanged.
Philip Katz, MIT Class of '82, said that in votes taken in the past year, divestment was favored among faculty total by a 3-to-1 margin, among graduate students 2 to 1, and among undergraduates 3 to 2.
Katz and others worked with Tina Smith '83, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Harvard Endowment for Divestiture, who helped them establish the guidelines for their own Endowment. The MIT version is very similar to the Harvard one, but they have only allowed MIT seven years to divest completely, as opposed to the 20 allowed in Harvard's charter.
"I think that it's important for it to happen right away," Katz said. "Every day means more deaths. It's a compromise between raising more money and saving more lives."
So far the Endowment has raised $400 in pledges, but Katz said that they have not really started their fundraising efforts. He said they will use direct mailings and phone-a-thons.
Although they plan to solicit from all MIT alumni, group leaders said they will first target specific groups, such as the Committee to Aid Non-registrants, an alumni fund that gave money to MIT students who did not register for the draft.
The Board of Trustees for the Endowment includes Katz, Correa, Congressman Bruce Morrison (D-Conn.), MIT '65, Congressman Howard Wolpe (D-Mich.), Urban Studies and Planning Professor Mel King, Political Science Professor Willard Johnson, Electrical Engineering Professor John Weizenbaum, Professor in the Sloan School of Management John Parsons, Gretchen Kalonji, MIT '80, and Dr. Marc Miller, MIT '69.
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