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Minority Organizations Campaign for Divestment

By Ira E. Stoll

A coalition of five University minority student organizations has endorsed a statement urging Harvard to "completely divest itself from all companies doing business in South Africa."

The Minority Student Alliance (MSA) statement comes as undergraduates prepare to vote on a divestment referendum to be held in conjunction with Undergraduate Council elections today, tomorrow and Friday.

"It's all pretty much symbolic," MSA chair Cara J. Wong '92 said of the statement. "Hopefully, it will mean something to the administration or the Corporation."

Malcolm L. Miles '93, the Black Students Association representative to MSA, said he hopes that 100 percent of the student body will support complete divestment.

"The purpose of our statement," Miles said "is to show that we don't agree with the administration's policy, which in effect supports an oppressive system of government."

Michele C. LaFountain '91--the representative to MSA from La O, a Puerto Rican student organization--said, "Our statement is a cry for justice, for Harvard to take a just stand on the issue."

"The statement shows that the minority community continues to support complete divestment," said Randal S. Jeffrey '91 a member of the Undergraduate Council who last year chaired the ad-hoc committee on divestment.

According to the statement, approved by Harvard Asian-American, Black, Native American, Puerto Rican and Chicano student groups, "Harvard University invests approximately $170 million in companies that do business in South Africa. Meanwhile the South African government continues to discriminate solely on the basis of race."

"Anyone who is not white is effectively excluded from political power," the statement reads. "MSA believes that until South Africa enters an irreversible process towards a nonracial society, Harvard University should not own the stock of any company that does business in South Africa."

The MSA statement further urges the Undergraduate Council to press for complete divestment.

This week's referendum asks students whether they favor complete divestment, selective divestment or no divestment, and includes a brief definition of each option. In addition, it asks students if the Undergraduate Council should "support and encourage the majority view on the preceding proposition through appropriate means."

In the last referendum on divestment--held in February, 1986--65 percent of undergraduates voting supported complete divestment. In that referendum, however, students were not given the option of voting for selective divestment.

Jeffrey said he hopes that 50 percent of the student body will support complete divestment in this week's referendum.

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