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Students Seek Soviet Union Divestiture

November 8, 1985

BOSTON (AP) _ Conservative student groups, taking a cue from successful drives against investment in South Africa, are calling on universities to sell stock they own in companies that do business in the Soviet Union.

The campaign, called Save The Oppressed People, has emerged at more than 20 schools, according to Bonner Cohen, international director of the Young Conservative Foundation, a 2-year-old student political action group based in Washington that is organizing the campaign.

Students at 80 other colleges and universities have expressed interest in joining the 7-month-old movement, Cohen told The Boston Globe in an interview published Friday.

″We want to redefine foreign policy debate on American campuses,″ the 39- year-old Cohen said. ″We view the Soviet Union as the world’s most dangerous and most flagrant violator of human rights.

″Regrettably, it is not the only country that violates human rights as a matter of domestic policy, but the difference with the Soviet Union is that it is a nuclear superpower and poses a far greater danger than the others.″

Cohen said Harvard, Brandeis and Dartmouth universities were among the campuses where the movement has taken hold. Preliminary contacts had been made at the University of Rhode Island and Yale and Princeton universities, the group said.

Thomas Firestone, editor of a Harvard undergraduate journal, the Salient, said he wrote an editorial urging Harvard to divest itself of Soviet-related stocks ″to highlight the blatant hypocrisy of the South Africa activists″ who ″totally ignore our trade with Soviet Union, which is a totalitarian regime.″

If Harvard wanted to make a moral statement by divesting, he said, ″divesting in the Soviet Union is a golden opportunity.″

Harvard officials said this week that the university has $227 million in holdings in companies doing business in the Soviet Union. It has $400 million of its $1.8 billion portfolio invested in companies doing business in South Africa, but has divested some South African holdings.

Paul Bienstock, a student at Brandeis, told the Globe he began a campaign there and plans an activity in about two weeks to focus attention on it.

Adam Lieberman, a Dartmouth student, told the newspaper he wrote an article for The Dartmouth Review, a conservative publication, urging support of the movement.

Archie C. Epps, dean of students at Harvard, said he did not think sentiment for the campaign was widespread there.

″They’ve talked about it since last spring, but so far there haven’t been any rallies or anything,″ he told the Globe.

″In principle, I see no difference between violations of human rights in South Africa and the Soviet Union, whether the victims be South African blacks or Soviet Jewry. It’s reasonable to oppose either regime,″ he said.

″If we are going to use economic sanctions and measures of this kind on countries we deem to behave in an immoral way, than the Soviet Union belongs in this category,″ said Richard Pipes, a history professor at Harvard and former director of East European and Soviet Affairs for the National Security Council.

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