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Council Criticizes Stock Jump

Sixty Percent Rise in South Africa Investments Spurs Letter

By Jeffrey C. Wu

The Undergraduate Council voted overwhelmingly last night to send a letter to the Corporation expressing its disappointment over an increase in the value of Harvard's South Africa-related stocks.

The letter protests a jump in the value of the holdings from $138.9 million in June 1989 to $223.3 million in June 1990. According to the latest annual report of the Harvard University Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR), the jump was caused by an increase in the value of the shares Harvard previously held and the "purchase of additional shares in five portfolio companies."

The letter states that "the Council is very disappointed that over the one year period included in the Annual Report the total value of the stock increased by over 60 percent. This reveals a disturbing lack of sensitivity on the part of the Corporation to the concerns of the undergraduates on the issue."

An undergraduate referendum held in October forces the council to advocate a policy of complete divestment of all of the University's South Africa-related holdings.

While the resolution on the letter spurred little debate last night, at a full meeting two weeks ago some representatives criticized the bill for being outdated.

President Derek C. Bok said several weeks ago that in the period following the issuing of the report, the value of Harvard's South African holdings have recently fallen back to just over $150 million.

When council members raised this point, the bill was set aside and rewritten, before being passed last night. The letter currently addresses only the one-year period covered by the CCSR report.

But a few council representatives last night said they still did not think the letter is appropriate.

"I don't think it's relevant. The stock market fluctuates," Council Vice Chair Joel D. Hornstein '91-'92 said. Hornstein, who severely criticized the bill when it first appeared, disparaged the action by saying that "we ought to write thank-you letters" when the University's investments in South Africa fall.

But council representative Randal S. Jeffrey '91, who moved the resolution, said "it's good when it goes down but they should have a position of complete divestment and we shouldn't congratulate them until they fully divest."

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