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Concerns about University holdings in South Africa remain firmly atop the agenda of the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR) according to the body's midyear report published last week.
The report from the three-member body made up of Corporation members Charles P. Slichter, Robert G. Stone, Jr., and Treasurer D. Ronald Daniel listed South Africa as the target of over 100 shareholder resolutions. In the CCSR report, current Harvard holdings in companies with operations in South Africa is said to be $168,641,407.
Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations allow stockholders with ethical concerns about companies in which they hold stock to submit resolutions each year. After the SEC processes the resolutions, they are sent to other investors, who can vote on them.
Harvard has two bodies to consider these resolutions, commonly called proxies: the CCSR, the executive board which makes the final decision, and the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR), which counsels the Corporation.
The release of the report comes as the ACSR--made up of faculty, alumni and students--has begun to look into this year's proxies.
This year the voting will be particularly important because eight new members--including a new chairperson--have stepped in to replace members whose two-year terms expired last spring.
Business School Professor William A. Sahlman who was appointed as the new ACSR chairperson was not available for comment on the midyear report yesterday.
Veteran alumni member Deval L. Patrick said that South Africa will most certainly continue to be the focus of debate at the weekly meetings.
"South Africa is consistently one of the top ones," said Patrick, one of only four returning ACSR members. "Some time ago the resolutions all asked for withdrawal from South Africa. Now that many corporations which Harvard was involved in have already withdrawn, they have crossed that line and now it is getting out and cutting all ties."
New committee member Karim Lalji said there is a conflict in the ACSR as to how Harvard should respond to the changes in South Africa.
"Nobody supports what happens in South Africa but there is dispute as to how to help the most," said Lalji, a student at the School of Public Health. "The corporations feel they have done a lot of work to bring change from the inside, so a lot of alumni members support this. The students on board seem to vote strongly for withdrawal."
Although South Africa has been the major issue confronting the CCSR and ACSR sincethe conception of the two bodies, Patrick said theresolutions submitted change with the majorconcerns of the times. This year, for the firsttime, the ACSR will be facing several resolutionsdealing with environmental interests.
Several committee members had specific concernswhich they intend to champion as the ACSRcontinues to make reccomendations to theCorporation committee. Divinity School studentMichael McNally said he wanted to push theenvironmental issues, while Lalji said his effortswould be focused on the tobacco question.
"A year or two ago, there was a lot of debateon the tobacco issue and I personally want tobring the issue back again," Lalji said. "I don'tbelieve that we should be investing in the tobaccoindustry and I wanted to get some input on thatissue.
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