Protesters Camp in Administration Building For Third Day
BALTIMORE (AP) _ Students protesting Johns Hopkins’ investments in companies operating in South Africa camped in the administration building for a third day Wednesday as university officials said there would be no reply to the students’ demands.
The protest began Monday after trustees rejected calls for the sale of all university stock in companies doing business in racially segregated South Africa.
There have been no arrests.
The students have asked to meet with President Steven Muller about releasing minutes of the trustees’ meeting. They are also seeking a schoolwide referendum on divestment.
The Coalition For A Free South Africa is calling for divestment over a two- year period of what it estimates is $70 million worth of holdings in companies that do business in South Africa, said Patrick Bond, a member of the group.
Ken Iglehart, spokesman for the Hopkins president, said late Wednesday that Muller hadn’t decided when or if he would meet with the protesters. But he issued a statement from Muller saying the university had no response to the coalition’s demands.
The university had no plans, as of Wednesday, to force the students to leave the administration building, Iglehart said.
The protesters, some of whom are studying for mid-term tests, have placed anti-apartheid banners along the second-floor railing. They also put up a sign renaming the building Mandela Hall, after jailed South African opposition leader Nelson Mandela.
A shanty, intended to resemble the homes of poor South African blacks, and crosses were also placed against the outside wall of the building.
In a statement Wednesday evening, the protesters said, ″We reaffirm our commitment to occupy Mandela Hall as long as is necessary to have our concerns on trustee conflict-of-interest adequately met.″
The group said it had learned no meeting with the administration was possible for at least another 36 hours. ″The coalition ... will therefore remain in Mandela Hall and will also begin to address each of the approximately 20 trustees who we believe took part in the divestment debate.″
″Further proceedings will then be considered against them,″ the coalition said without elaborating.
About 30 protesters slept overnight in the building both Monday and Tuesday nights, said Bond.
The trustees Monday said they had strengthened a policy calling for divestment from companies not in agreement with the Sullivan Principles, which require fair treatment by U.S.-based companies of South African blacks.
The trustees also condemned apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial separation, as a ″social evil,″ but said that total and immediate divestment would not represent a ″responsible, prudent course of action.″