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October 03, 1978 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-03

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Page 4-Tuesday, October 3, 1978-The Michigan Daily
be 3ibian maiIu
Eighty-Nine Years of Editorial Freedom
Vol. LIX, No. 23 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
In order to vote you must

A moral responsibility to
cut ties with South Africa

By Joel Samoff


- the time is now

F STUDENTS ever needed a
reason to register and vote, we've
sure got it now.
As we all learned in seventh grade
social studies, voting is one of the
moral, if not legal, obligations of
citizenship. Voting means doing our
part to keep democracy strong, we
were told.
That may or may not be the case.
But this election, college students all
over the state have much more per-
sonal stakes in the fall election. First,
and most obvious, is the ballot issue
which would deny 18 to 21-year-olds to
right to legally purchase alcoholic
beverages. The new prohibition would
reverse a . law in effect since 1972,
which extended this right of adulthood
to most college-age Michigan residen-
But the regressive dry law is only
one of many initiatives on the Novem-
ber ballot which would directly af-
fect students.
The Tisch tax-slashing proposal, for
examplZ, could have a devastating ef-
fect on higher education funding
across the state. If passed, it could
mean skyrocketing tuition and
declining educational quality for all of
These two proposals have the most
direct effect on students but there are
none other issues on the ballot this
What this means is, if you don't vote,
you're hurting yourself. There's one
technicality, though. If you don't
register, you can't vote. And, time is
running out.
Here are the fafts you need to know
about voter registration: The deadline
for registering to vote is Tuesday, Oc-

tober 10-one week from today. If
you've never voted before, or if this
will be your first election in Ann Arbor,
you've got seven days left to get your
name on the voter lists. Local
Democrats are maintaining
registration tables on the diag and on
the first floor of the Michigan Union
tomorrow, Thursday, next Monday
and Tuesday.
Markley and Alice Lloyd residents
can register in dinner lines tonight.
West Quaddies can sign up at lunch
today and tomorrow, and East Quad-
dies, at lunch today. For Bursley
residents, registration tables will be
set up at dinner time tomorrow and
Thursday nights. Inhabitants of South
Quad may register at lunchtime Thur-
sday and at dinner on Friday. Couzens
residents may register at lunch
Friday, and Oxford Housing residents
at lunch on Sunday.
In addition, regular registration
sites at the Ann Arbor City Clerk's Of-
fice and in the Public Library are
City Hall, some seven blocks off
campus at Huron and North Fourth.
Avenue, ,will be open today through
Saturday from 8 to 5, next Monday the
same hours, and Tuesday until 8 p.m.
The Public Library, at William and
Fifth Avenue, is open for registration 9
to 9 until Friday, and 9 to 6 Saturday.
Next week, the library is open from 10
to 9 on Monday and 9 to 9 Tuesday.
All Secretary of State branch offices,
including the one in the Church Street
Arcade, are also available for
registering to vote.
There is much at stake. Let us not
allow someone else to decide our future
for us. Register and vote.

Although the debate about whether or not
the University should sell its stocks in
companies with substantial operations in
South' Africa has been going on for several
years, there remains a good deal of confusion
on what the key issues are. As a result, often
those who favor selling the stocks and those
who oppose the sale are talking about
different things. Since neither is able to
persuade the other, all that is left to do is
shout (though, as the record shows, those who
shout louder and more persistently do not
always prevail).
Since this debate is likely to continue for
some time, it seems useful to try to set aside
some of the major confusions, and thus focus
the discussion. the sale . of
stocks-divestment-has two major
purposes: education (both of oursevels and of
others) and pressure for change. The primary
focus of divestment is us: what we as a
university community, in Ann Arbor,
Michigan, are going to do do identify and
challenge racism.
South Africa, of course, is a country where
racism is institutionalized. It is not the only
place where racial discrimination, exists, but
it is one of the very few where segregation by
race is legally defined and legally required.
Since there are many good sources for more
detail on racism in South Africa, there is no
need to repeat that detail here. But it is
important to note the importance of conflict
organized by race at the globhl scale. As
religious wars were formerly prominent in
international relations, so racial wars are
now. Unfortunately, there is every reason to
expect them to expand.'
South Africa, though distant from us here in
Ann Arbor, does not live in isolation. There is.
now ample documentation of the foreign role
in South Africa's economy, polity, and
society. Though the United States does not
control South Africa, its substantial influence
is clear. And though universitities, like the
University, do not set U.S. policy, so too is
their influence clear.
Major Confusions
Now for the major confusiqns. First, it is
often pointed out that the withdrawal of U.S.
investments will not destroy the South
African economy. Quite so, but irrelevant.
The goal of sanctions is notdestruction, but
liberation. (Note, too, that the withdrawl of
investments-disinvestment by companies,
as distinguished from divestment by
stockholders-is only one possible outcome of
a successful divestment effort.)
Divestment is intended, in part, to press
companies to curtail and withdraw their
operations in South Africa, but it is absurd to
anticipate dramatic and large-scale
disinvestment. Divestment applies
increasing pressure on companies to change
their behavior. Modest changes in the
companies' behavior in turn apply increasing
pressure on the South African government to
change its behavior. That change is likely to
occur long before massive disinvestment
could be accomplished. There ae, in fact,
already some examples of progressive
changes within South Africa as a result of
external pressure. Those changes are indeed
modest, and for most South Africans thus far

those foreign companies who are expanding
their South African operations. Both Africans
and white liberals in South Africa have been
eloquent and persistent in their view that the
isolation of South Africa has been a stimulus
for change.
THIRD, IT IS claimed that the University,
whatever it does, cannot really have any
impact. That is correct, if impact refers to
destroyng the South African economy. But as
noted above, that is not the point. There are
many signs of the concern of U.S.
corporations about possible divestment,
particularly by institutional shareholders.
Simply the threat of divestment, and the thus
far small stockholders' challenges, have
pushed major companies into defending their
actions in South Africa and into adopting
programs that they can claim are fulfilling
their social responsibility to challenge
racism. Many companies sign the Sullivan
principles (a set of commitments to greater
equality in the workplace) not only because
they mean little change and are
unenforceable, but also becatise the
companies must have something with which
to respond to stockholder demands for more
aggressive action. Several major banks,
threatened with the withdrawl of large
deposits, have curtailed lending in South
Africa. Precisely because of the University's
prominence as a university, its behavior does
not go unnoticed. There is also the possibility
of substantial cooperation among
institutional investors, thus increasing the
collective leverage. And in any case, it is hard
to justify supporting racism on the grounds
that we, all by ourselves, cannot end it.
FOURTH, THERE IS the claim that divest-
ment, if it produced withdrawal of foreign
investment, would hurt African workers. In
part, to the extent that disinvestment occurs,
that is correct. But it is also the case that
disvestment by U.S. companies is likely to
have a more rapid impact on the vitality of
the South African economy than on the
African labor force. And recall that that we
are talking about increasing pressure, not
cataclysmic withdrawal. It is reasonable to

. , 1 .... _ _. .._




More than just a dream

employment bill is one of the most
important pieces of legislation yet to
be decided by the Senate this year. It is
a bill from which every American will
derive benefit. President Carter said
Saturday he was confident the Senate
will approve the bill if it is allowed to
come to a vote. But herein lies the
problem; big business lobbying is
stalling the Humphrey-Hawkins bill.
What the controversial bill would do
is set a national goal of reducing the
overall unemployment rate to four per
cent by 1983. The legislation, named
for its co-sponsors the late Senator
Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.) and U.S.
Rep. Augustus Hawkins (D-Calif.), is
not as powerful as originally written. It
now lacks specific funding levels and
means of implementation.
The bill is strongly supported by the
Congressional Black Caucus. This
group met with President Carter and,
Vice President Mondale last week to
express their concern for passage of
the legislation. After somewhat stormy
negotiations, the President put
passage of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill

we do not become neutral. Rather we
encourage the very policies th we say we
SIXTH, THERE IS the feat that if the
University acts responsibly b challenge
racism in South Africa, we migt be pressed
to take similar action in other cirumstances.
As I noted above, the institutioialization of
racism makes South Africa stinctively
different from other cases. But ;urely it is
unacceptable for us to say that ie refuse to
take action to challenge racisn on the
grounds that some members of theuniversity
community might jeekto address dher social
problems. The hypocisy of tha response
ought to make us squrm. One o the most
exciting characteristic; of a majoruniversity
is the multiplicity ,f its activities, its
involvement in many hings simulaneously.
That diversity is somehing to encourage, not
Seventh, some worn that the costs of
disvestment, both for sock transactions and
for the informatin-gathering and
management requied, -would b
unacceptably high. That eed not be the cas
at all. The transactio costs of orderly
divestment should b quite modest.
Cooperation among instutional investor
and the availability of epertise within th
University could make the infqrmation
gathering and managemet costs quite low.
we ought to regard the ocal costs as an
educational investment-te learning (about
the U.S., about the intertional economy,
about South Africa, abou global conflict,
about racism, and aboutthe University)
potential is enormous. Evenvithout the focus
on divestment, the educatioal opportunity is
too good to pass up.
Finally, there is the noon that' if th
University were to divest, it would los
leverage with the companies volved. Not so.
We would be committed to acuiring stocks i
companies with progressive olicies towar
South Africa. That could be n incentive to
some companies whose stockwe do not now
hold. And companieswhose tocks we sold
would know that we wod again be
interested, once their policies hd changed. In
any case; what is the evidenc that prior to
the campaign for divestment v did use our
stockholdings as leverage for cange in South
Divestment and the U iversity
That brings us back to the %rting point.
Divestment at the first level is aned at us, as
a university commuinity. Th process of
divestment involves us in an educational
effort whose benefits can be subtantial. Fo
us, and the other communities e reach, to
become better informed about Suth Africa,
about racism with international onnections,
about the links among the ecomy, the
polity, and the society, about ;he global
political economy, and about the ructure of
power in the United States, is no sirple task.
At the next level, divestment isaimed at
joining with others in applying icreasing
pressure to challenge institutionalid racism
in South Africa. Over time, SouthAfricans
will themselves determine their on'future.
Our choice is between assisting prgressive
change or getting in its way. All th talk of
crippling economies and geerating
widespread unemployment serves o divert
us from doing what we can do, anddoing it
By way of postscript, I want to no that to
regad the University's links with South Africa
racial segregation as largely a matter of
buying and selling stocks is also diversion.
The University's portfolio and the leverage it
permits are not unimnportat. But an
educational institution is in trouble when it
permits its role as a stoctholder to become
paramount. Why have we ot yet proceeded
to explore systematically oter links between
the University and South Africa? And why
have we not yet begun o pursue other
avenues for understanding aid clarifying the
South African situation, anc for influencing
the course of events? Ve should be
embarrassed by our inactivity

during the current legislative session
on his "must" list.
Critics, including the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, argue that the bill is
useless - it only sets a goal, it doesn't
provide the means of attaining it. They
also say whatever funds needed for
implementation of the bill would have
to be raised through a tax increase.
With Republicans trying to milk the
alleged tax revolt, their opposition to
Humphrey-Hawkins is expected,
especially since blacks and other
minorities would benefit most from the
If the bill is as weak as its critics
suggest, it wouldn't be under such
intensive lobbying efforts by the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce and others.
Second, Humphrey-Hawkins was
designed to help all Americans. If it is
of particular aid to blacks and other
minorities, all the better. Full
employment will benefit everyone in
this country whether black, white, rich
or poor. The initiative has not come
from the private sector. We can wait
no longer. The Humphrey-Hawkins bill
could begin working now.

The University's portfolio and the leverage it permits are not
unimportant. But an educational institution is in trouble when
it permits its role as a stockholder to become paramount.


inconsequential. But they do demonstrate
that external pressure can force changes, and
that as the pressure escalates, so the changes
occur. We should all be clear that external
pressure, by itself, cannot reorganize power
'within South Africa. South Africans must do
that themselves. But just as the international
links of the minority government enable it to
stay in power yet a bit longer, so the
disruption of those links can reduce the white
regime's staying power. Foreign investors
cannot make change, but they can surely
assist or block it.
IN ANY CASE, it makes little sense to talk
of destroying economies. Large scale human
institutions rarely crumble overnight. Even
revolutionary change is more likely to be
spasmodic than cataclysmic.
Hence, all the talk of the inability to destroy
the South African economy is a distraction: It
has little to do with what divestment is all
Second, it is claimed that withdrawal of
investment by some U.S. companies cannot

expect that many changes would occur long
before there was a significant displacement
of the African work force. It is also important
to note that most African leaders in South
Africa have encouraged the economic
isolation of South Africa. It is true that there
are some Africans in South Africa, most of
them holding positions of authority within the
current arrangement. who have opposed
disinvestment. Yet, what is most striking is
the constancy and breadth of the support for
disinvestment over quite a long time-from
Nobel-Prize winner Chief Luthuli to the
militant Soweto students to the officers of the
Christian Institute.
Fifth, it is asserted that foreign policy is not
the business of a university. That is incorrect,
both in theory and in practice. Universities
must be concerned with policy-making, and
often we claim to be educating the future
policy-makers. Many University units are
currently involved in the policy process, not
only studying it but influencing it. That
involvement .ranges from work for AID

Managing Editors

gtttt + tti1

Arts Editors


NIGHT'I'EiI'f'( Is: Jeff F'ranik,(Gary Kicinski. Geoff Larcorn.
Brian Martin. Brian Miler'. Hilly Nefl. lDan ll('mrinl. lDave
I{('ntal'ger. B111 Y satin. Ii''oIshiluniri. .JainieT' luroc'i. Bob
Wa r'mn.

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