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September 07, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

eeps So

By RENE BECKER
The Regents voted unanimously last
March not to sell University-owned
stocks and bonds in corporations which
operate in South Africa, despite moun-
ting protest against the investment
policy at this University and others
across the.nation.-
The South African investment issue
las been gaining momentum on
American college campuses for several
years. The debate moved to the fore at
this University in the spring of 1977
.when Denis Ondeje, then vice-president
of the African Student Association
( ASA),.asked the Regents to cut all ties
with the South African government.
ONDEJE AND MANY others charge
that American corporations operating
In that country, by their presence, lend
support to the John Vorster regime and
its repressive practice of apartheid-a
system of segregation and discrimina-
tion indigenous to South Africa.
' The ASA, along with the Washtenaw
County Coalition Against Apartheid
(WCCAA), the South African
Liberation Committee (SALC), the
Revolutionary. Communist' Youth
Brigade' (RCYB) and the Black Student
Union 'say the University is supporting
apartheid by its investments igi those
American corporations doing business
in South Africa.
According to the latest estimates, the
University has invested more than $73
million of a total investment pool of
$235 million in corporations with South
African operations. The return on the
entire investment portfolio accounts for
only three per cent of the University's
total operating revenue.
A REPORT written last tall for
James Brinkerhoff, the Uni ersity's
chief financial officer, states the
University would lose up to $1 million in
affecting the change in their portfolio if
the University divested. This would be
a one-time cost.
But if the University chose to divest,
according to the report, the Regents
would be obligated to refuse monetary
gifts from those corporations with
South African operations. This could
cost the University up to $3 million an-
nually.
A report to the U.S. Senate's Foreign
Relations Committee by the Subcom-
mittee on Africa lent credence to the
accusations of those supporting
divestment..
AFTER A YEAR of detailed study
the- committee reported that "collec-
tively, U.S corporations operating in
South Africa have made no significant
impact on either relaxing apartheid or
in establishing company policies which
would offer a limited but nevertheless

important model of multinational
responsibility."
"Rather," the report continues, "the
net effect of American investment has
been to strengthen the economic and
military self-sufficiency of South
Africa's apartheid regime, under-
mining the fundamental goals and ob-
jectives of U.S. foreign policy."
Although considered by most to be
the hottest controversy on college cam-
puses since the Vietnam War, the South
African investment issue has deep roots
at this University. The Students for a
Democratic Society (SDS) raised the
issue at the University in March 1965.
IN LIGHT OF persistent protest over
the years the Regents, in 1970, voted to
alter the University investment policy
to include some adherence to moral
responsibility. The Regents would not'
give in to demands for divestiture or
stop corporations which do business in
South Africa from recruiting on cam-
pus.
That investment policy stood until the
issue gained national attention when
church groups around the country
began urging American corporate
withdrawal from South Africa. Then
concerned groups and individuals on
campus re-examined the University's
investment policy.
In the summer of 1977, University
President Robben Fleming put in
motion the mechanism to re-establish
the University's Committee on Com-
munications to deal directly with the
South African problem.
THE COMMITTEE, which was
established in the late sixties to handle
"controversial issues," had been inac-
tive for several years due to lack of in-
terest, according to Fleming. The
committee is intended to be a tool
through which all members of the
University community can express
their opinion.
But due to the lengthy process of
choosing the two faculty members, two
administrators and two students who
would sit on the University panel, the
Committee did not begin to function un-
til late November.
By that time the Michigan Student
Assembly (MSA) had removed its
monies from the University investment
pool. MSA said it withdrew the funds to
protest the University's ties to South
Africa and urged the University and the
Board for Student Publications (which
manages The Daily's finances) to
divest.
THE ADMINISTRATION attached a
great deal of importance to tWe Com-
mittee's work. Richard Kennedy.
Secretary of the University, said -in
November of 1977 that all positions

uth
must be aired through Committee fun-
ctions before the administration makes
a recommendation and the Regents
decide the issue.
The official administrative recom-
mendation was formulated by the
Senate Assembly Advisory Committee
on Financial Affairs - a ten-member
faculty panel under Brinkerhoff's of-
fice.
As the Committee was just beginning
to choose a chairperson in November,
the ASA held its own consciousness-
raising seminar on South Africa. The
ASA sponsored a week-long forum on
South Africa which included several
University professors and two black
South Africans attached to the United
Nation's Center Against Apartheid.
BY THE END of December the
Committee on Communications had
laid a rough plan for a University-spon-
sored forum to occur sometime late in
January.
The high point of the. Committee's

ican inv

The Michigan Daily-Thursday, September 7, 1978-Page 5
estments

forum was a onb-on-one debate between
a white and a black South African. Deon
Erasmus, of the South African Con-
sulate in New York, defended his
government's policy of "separate
development" to Fred Dubey, a
representative of the Pan African
National Congress.
Outside Rackham Auditorium, where
the debate was held, about 60 protesters
carried picket signs and chanted "U. of
M., USA, out of South Africa right
away." Inside the auditorium,
Erasmus was constantly heckled while
making his statement.
THE FORUM was concluded by a
"summing-up -session" designed to in-
corporate the views of the University
community. On the basis of the last
session, the Committee later reached
the conclusion that the majority of the
community favored divestment and
therefore the University should
"liquidate" its investments in cor-
porations operating in South Africa.

On March 3, the faculty Advisory
Committee released its recommen-
dations to the Regents. The Advisory
Committee suggested the University
Regents terminate all business with
banks which make or renew loans to the
South African government.
But the Advisory Committee recom-
mended against selling University-
owned stocks and bonds in corporations
with South African operations.
DESPITE PROTEST from more than
200 picketers outside the Michikai
Union where the March meeting was
held, the Regents decided on a solution
to the South African investment con-
troversy far less stringent than the
recommendation made by the Advisory
Committee.
The Regents voted unanimously not
to sell stock or bonds in corporation
with South African operations. The
Regents' resolution also stated that the
University need not divest holdings in
banks which make loans "conditioned

on (South African) governmental ac
tion which shall tend to end the system
of apartheid."
At the meeting the Regents all voicei
the opinion that the University, as a
stockholder, could use its position tc
work for progressive change in Sout
Africa through American corporate
presence.
THE REGENTS' decision was no'
well received by the groups demanding
that the University divest. They al
promised continued protest until th
Regents cut all ties with the South
African government.
The WCCAA kept their promise at thc
June commencement ceremony. Abul
60 protesters outside Crisler Arena
carried signs and chanted anti-apar
theid slogans as the graduating studep
ts entered the building. Roughly twenty
students interrupted Vice-Presideni
Walter Mondale's commencement ad
dress with sign waving and heckling..,
agreement
the University had entered into a "bad
agreement." The University, Baker
continued, had "given away some of th.
prerogatives of the Board of Regenfs:
That is wrong. . . we have given away
the right to manage the Univer'
sity ... once you let the federal govep
nment in, they will call the shots.
Fleming told the Regents, "I woulc
not agree that we have given anythin
away," and said he thought the con
ciliators "acted entirely within theli
authorization."
The OCR agreement remained intact,
despite the objections

RESPONDS TO FEDERAL.

FUND CUT THREATS:

'U' signs new affirmative action

by ELISA ISAACSON
In response to a threatened federal
funding cut-off due to alleged deficien-
cies in its affirmative action policies,
the University signed a conciliation
agreement with the U.S. Office of Civil
Rights (OCR) last January.
A research team from OCR, a
division of the Department of Iealth,
Education and Welfare, had visited the
campus in December 1977 and informed
University President Robben Fleming
in a letter that the University was not
complying with Federal affirmative ac-
tion guidelines. OCR gave the Univer-
sity until January 16, 1978 to draft a
reformation plan.
INCLUDED IN the University's
delegation sent to conciliate with OCR
were Gwen Baker and Deagelia Pena,
Affirmative Action Program director
and associate director, respectively,
and Virginia Nordby, attorney and
Academic Affairs policy coordinator.
After signing the agreement, the
University's Affirmative Action Office
began gathering and analyzing data
and preparing timetables in implemen-
tation of the new plan. OCR granted ex-
tensions of certain deadlines and some
deadlines the University has already
met, according to Pena, who is serving
as acting Affirmative Action director
while Baker is on a three-year leave in
Washington.
During the first week of July, Pena
said, the Denartment Office of Federal

Contacts and Compliance, a division of
the U.S. Department of Labor, nullified
the January agreement.
"IT'S MORE A matter of format than
figures," Pena said of the Labor Depar-
tment's objections to the pact. Pena
said she expects the Department's
modified plan will be "essentially" the
same as the original.
"Regardless of whether or not it (the
agreement) is enforced, we will still do
what we feel is right for affirmative ac-
tion," Pena asserted. "Between now
and October (when the Department of
Labor will officially take over the
agreement) we will be reviewing what
we have done already and what we
should be doing in the future." As of
July, Pena said she was uncertain
whether she and her colleagues would
continue to follow the guidelines of the
OCR agreement while waiting for the
Department of Labor's revisions.
The provisions of the OCR agreement
included detailed analyses of all
University departments. The Affir-
mative Action employees were to
collect listings of salaries, job titles,
promotion and tenure statistics and
firings. They were to analyze the data
for any discrimination against women
or minorities in hiring, salaries and job
ranks, and the University was to make
amends if any discrimination was
discovered.
OCR ALSO required the Affirmative
Action Office to monitor the depar-

tments to insure their compliance with
the University's policy of non-
discrimination. If Baker and Pena's of-
fice gathered and analyzed statistics
from all departments and monitored
their hiring activities, the University's
affirmative action program would
become centralized.
Both Baker and Pena said they felt
many of OCR's recommendations were
valid.
IT WAS AT January's Regents
meeting that the agreement met with
opposition. Regent Deane Baker said

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