Yale Protesters Confront President Inaugural Procession
Sep. 20, 1986
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ About 200 people protesting Yale University's $400 million investment in South Africa demonstrated at the inauguration of the Ivy League school's 20th president Saturday, and at least three people were arrested.
The demonstrators, some wearing white death masks and carrying miniature coffins, shouted "Apartheid Kills, Yale Pays the Bills" and other slogans denouncing Yale's South African investments.
Protesters shouted and clapped their hands as Benno C. Schmidt Jr's. inaugural procession marched from the Gothic-styled Sterling Memorial Library to Woolsey Hall for the ceremonies.
On the lawn of the Cross Campus, about 50 members of the Yale Black Student Alliance wearing black clothing and white masks confronted the procession.
White is symbolic of death in many Third World cultures. At the feet of each protester was a miniature wooden coffin.
Dozens of police on foot, horseback and motorcycles scrambled alongside the procession as it neared Woolsey Hall, shoving away demonstrators who tried to sit in the road.
Schmidt was not accosted, but he encountered the same demonstrators as he left the hall after the ceremonies, which began about a half-hour behind schedule.
At least three people were arrested, said New Haven Police Sgt. Richard Burgarella said.
Several anti-apartheid banners were hung inside the nearly filled 2,700- seat hall. Protesters inside the hall remained quiet as Schmidt delivered his inaugural address, despite constant shouting that could be heard from demonstrators outside.
The new president promised freedom of expression without referring specifically to the protesters.
"To stifle expression because it is obnoxious,erroneous, embarrasing, not instrumental to some political and idealogical end is - quite apart from the grotesque invasion of the rights of others - a disastrous reflection on ourselves."
Schmidt also said federal officials were threatening intellectual freedom, often in the name of national security.
"They seem to be under the misimpression that they are the ideological nannies of a population of pre-adolescents rather than the servants of a free and responsible peopele," he said. "And I speak of both parties, and liberals and conservatives alike."
Schmidt said officials in Washington "exercise their discretion over such matters as visits to the United States by foreigners thought to carry a controversial message, or the degree of secrecy thought appropiate in relation to that most umbrageous of concepts, national security, with little thought for intellectual freedom."
Schmidt, 44, is the former dean of the Columbia University law school and is considered an expert on the First Amendment.
He has expressed support for the university policy that allows investments in companies that do business in South African as long as certain anti- apartheid guidelines are met by the companies.
Sixty college presidents were expected to attend the ceremony before an estimated 2,700 people. Schmidt began his duties as Yale's president nearly three months ago, succeeding A. Bartlett Giamatti.
During the ceremony, Schmidt was presented with Yale's gold, silver and enamel presidential collar.
Several weekend dinners, a luncheon and a public reception were planned.
Among guests invited to the inauguration were Harvard University President Derek C. Bok, Columbia President Michael I. Sovern and Wesleyan President Colin Campbell, said Yale spokeswoman Cynthia Atwood. She said 81 universities were sending representatives.
Other guests included Yale trustees, among them former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, and three former Yale presidents.