ERIC Number: ED179161
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Apr-6
Reference Count: 0
Reflections on Divestment of Stock: An Open Letter to the Harvard Community.
Bok, Derek C.
The proposal that Harvard University sell its stock in American corporations in South Africa is discussed by the university's president. The proposal is based on the desire that the university respond as part of a pressure group using the leverage of purchases, endowment, and prestige as a university to push for social or political ends. Many years ago, Harvard adopted a policy of not investing in companies doing business in South Africa. Quite different considerations apply to the recent proposals concerning Harvard's policy as a share holder in American firms that carry out a small portion of their business in South Africa. It is felt that total divestment is neither a justifiable course of action for Harvard or a very promising way to help put an end to injustice in South Africa. Those who urge total divestment can make a plausible case only if they can show that all of the following propositions are likely to be correct: the withdrawal of American companies will help materially in overcoming apartheid and will contribute more than an effort on the part of American companies to improve wages, employment opportunities, and social conditions of nonwhite workers; selling Harvard's stock has a strong probability of persuading American firms to leave South Africa; divestment is a more effective inducement to withdrawal than continuing to vote on shares and communicate with management in other ways; and it is permissible for the Harvard Corporation to divert university resources to combat apartheid. (SW)
Descriptors: Academic Freedom, College Administration, College Role, Conflict, Educational Finance, Endowment Funds, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Institutional Autonomy, Investment, Moral Values, Political Influences, Presidents, Public Relations, Purchasing, Racial Discrimination, School Business Relationship, School Funds, Social Attitudes, Standards
Harvard University, Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Harvard Univ., Cambridge. Office of the President.
Identifiers: Divestiture; Harvard University MA; South Africa
Note: For related documents, see HE 011 985-987; Supplement to the Harvard University "Gazette," April 6, 1979