Corporation divestment position is unchanged
By Andrea Lamberti
After several months of meetings during which the Coalition Against Apartheid urged MIT Corporation members to divest from South Africa, the coalition received word this week that the Corporation's position has not changed, said Sue E. Nissman G, a member of CAA.
According to Nissman, the Corporation is "going to look into providing aid for South African students." Also, the Corporation will prepare a statement to be released in one or two weeks, she said.
The vice president and secretary of the Corporation, Constantine B. Simonides '57, could not be reached for comment. Corporation Chairman Paul E. Gray '54 was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
At the most recent meeting last Thursday, the coalition presented members of the Executive Committee with a proposal calling for MIT to divest from companies directly invested in South Africa and to divest from companies identified as "the most blatant examples" of indirect investment in the South African economy.
The CAA also asked the Executive Committee to make a public statement reaffirming MIT's support for economic sanctions until a non-racial democracy is established in South Africa.
Nissman said, "They said they were not going to hold a press conference. I'm not sure what they're going to do as far as sanctions go."
She added, "Basically they rejected 99 percent of the proposal."
Nissman said the coalition did not view the CAA's discussion with the Corporation as a "trade-off where they can either provide aid or divest." Nissman said she felt that "most schools do both, considerably better than we do."
Nissman said, "There's certainly going to be a response from the coalition, and we're going
to encourage the community to respond as well.
"We think it's great they're going to make some sort of effort for educational needs in South Africa, but that's not the problem, the problem is apartheid," she added.
The meeting between the CAA and some members of the Executive Committee, which occurred the day before the Executive Committee's monthly meeting, marked the third such gathering this academic year. Neither Gray nor President Charles M. Vest were present, CAA members said.
Prior to this meeting, members of the Corporation had requested information about divestment and the economic and political situation in South Africa. CAA representatives presented their answers to those questions at last Thursday's meeting. Nissman said it seemed that many at the meeting had not fully digested the contents of the CAA's information packet.
"It's clear to me that the
Executive Committee paid very little attention to the information [prepared by the CAA]," based on the phrasing and content of their questions, Nissman said.
The policy governing MIT investments in South Africa is based on the Statement of Principles, a set of guidelines calling on US corporations with operations in South Africa to end racial discrimination in the workplace, to work for an end to apartheid, and to improve their employees' quality of life.