Moves To Divest Universities’ South African Stock Holdings
Undated (AP) _ Protesters at Yale University vowed to defend their anti-apartheid shanties after meetings with school officials ended in impasse Saturday, and students and alumni blockaded a building at Wesleyan University to protest South Africa-related investments.
Students at the University of Illinois tore down their shantytown Saturday, but vowed to erect the shacks again if the school does not end its investment in companies doing business in South Africa.
The University of Connecticut’s trustees voted unanimously Friday to divest, while the University of Pennsylvania’s board decided to keep an 18- month moratorium on such action. Utah State University students passed a resolution calling for divestment of stock in companies that do business in the racially segregated nation.
In New Haven, Conn., Yale students said they would occupy the shacks, built more than a week ago to symbolize shantytowns in black South Africa, until the school agrees to sell its more than $350 million in investments in companies doing business in South Africa.
″Our position is that we are not leaving,″ student Charlene Gilbert told a cheering crowd of 200 students at the shacks.
About 400 Yale students and supporters attended a meeting earlier Saturday with six of eight members of the Yale Corporation’s Committee On Investor Responsibility.
″We feel that continued dialogue through involvement with portfolio companies is the best way to remove apartheid,″ said H. Edward Woodsum, a Portland, Maine, lawyer who heads the committee.
But another committee member, Eleanor Holmes Norton, former head of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asked students to continue their protest and ″struggle for a free South Africa.″
Later, seven protesters, including students, a faculty member and union workers, met with university Secretary John A. Wilkinson for an hour, but they said the session was inconclusive.
The blockade by about 100 people at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., forced the school’s board of trustees to change its meeting place Saturday. Wesleyan has $13 million in investments in companies that do business in South Africa.
″It is our money and we don’t want it in a country that treats grown men and women like slaves,″ said Nikki Feist, a freshman from New York. ″I want it to stop before I give them another year of tuition money.″
In Urbana, Ill., the protesters tore down the shantytown just before a noon deadline set by the university, but used the opportunity to present what they called a guerrilla theater depicting South African blacks being ordered out of their shanties by police.
The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to divest the school of its investments in companies doing business in South Africa by July 1.
The university has $217,000 worth of investments in those companies in its $1.4 million endowment, said spokesman Walt McGowan.
Utah State University students voted 1,097 to 899 Friday to call for divestiture of university stock in companies doing business in South Africa. The referendum taken at the school in Logan, Utah, will be forwarded to USU administrators and President Reagan.
Out of its $26 million investment portfolio, the university has about $400,000 invested in 10 U.S. companies active in South Africa.
The University of Pennsylvania’s board of trustees voted Friday to retain an 18-month moratorium on divesting the school’s $92 million of investments in companies active in South Africa.
During the meeting, two dozen students staged a ″die in″ by lying on the floor, to support a student resolution that calls for divestment to begin in September and be completed within a year.
And at the University of California in Berkeley, the president of the Theta Xi fraternity apologized Friday to apartheid protesters for an incident in which fraternity members stole an anti-apartheid shanty symbolizing the plight of South African blacks.
The shanty, painted with anti-apartheid slogans, was erected on the campus Wednesday. Fraternity members took it Thursday and placed it on the fraternity house balcony, before returning it that night. However, the plywood structure was knocked down during the night by two unidentified men, said UC spokesman Ray Colvig.
Berkeley protesters want the school to remove more than $2 billion it has invested in firms that do business with South Africa.
In Los Angeles, 100 apartheid protesters demonstrated Friday at a Shell gas station, seeking support for a boycott against Shell. Spokesman Cary Schaye said a boycott would press Shell to divest itself of investments in South Africa estimated at $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
The protesters claimed Shell USA’s parent company, Royal Dutch-Shell Group, is South Africa’s principal supplier of crude oil, has an interest in South Africa’s largest oil refinery and operates a number of coal mines.
Shell spokeswoman Mary Lee Norman said Shell opposes apartheid, but that a boycott won’t make any difference.