Princeton Retains Investments; UCLA Meet Disrupted
Undated (AP) _ Princeton University’s trustees have voted to keep $350 million worth of investments in companies with ties to racially segregated South Africa, but resolved to take a close look at the issue.
The trustees on Monday assigned a subcommittee to determine to what degree the companies’ practices in South African support or discourage apartheid, said university spokesman Justin Harmon.
In Los Angeles, meanwhile, a brief but noisy protest and a bomb scare disrupted the University of California regents as they pondered whether to withdraw university investments in companies doing business in white-ruled South Africa.
The 38-member Princeton board asked for a report from the subcommittee at its next meeting in October.
″We thought we had a responsibility as trustees to continue to pursue these questions in a careful, deliberate way,″ university President William G. Bowen said. ″This does not mean Princeton won’t divest in the future. One of the misunderstandings is we have never said never.″
″I think it’s an important first step,″ said Jenny Price, a member of the Princeton Coalition for Divestment. ″It’s basically what the coalition has been asking for a long time.″
In 1969, the trustees agreed to a policy of ″selective divestment″ to exclude from its portfolio any investments in companies with more than 50 percent of their holdings in South Africa.
The trustees in 1978 adopted a policy declaring apartheid to be ″morally repugnant,″ but stood by an investment policy of not taking positions on ″external issues.″
The university has also used its proxy votes on resolutions to discourage direct bank loans and new corporate initiative in South Africa.
Ninety people, Ms. Price among them, were arrested during an anti-apartheid blockade of the school’s administration building on May 23. School officials dropped the charges against the students, junior faculty members and alumni arrested, but officially reprimanded student and faculty participants.
The coalition has been demanding that the school sell $350 million of its $1.2 billion endowment invested in companies doing business with South Africa.
At the meeting in Los Angeles, about 75 chanting and drum-beating demonstrators mostly were kept out of UCLA’s Royce Hall, where the meeting was held Monday. The bomb threat turned out to be a hoax and the regents heard testimony from dozens of student, faculty and employee representatives.
The regents are scheduled to vote at a meeting June 20 and 21 on whether to sell off the $2.4 billion of the university’s $5.5 billion portfolio that is invested in companies doing businesss in South Africa.
UC President David Gardner said he will submit a recommendation to regents before that meeting. He declined to disucss his own feelings on the matter.
Meantime, regents were told that divestiture could cost the university $100 million, about one-fifth of that in stock-brokerage fees.
″If divestment were cost-free, there would be no serious question,″ said Donald L. Reidhaar, the regents’ attorney.
Reidhaar also warned that total divestment might lead to litigation, not just against the board but against individual regents.
Professor Kenneth H. Simmons, a representative of UC Faculty for Full Divestment, urged a gradual plan for withdrawal of all UC investments unless apartheid is dissolved.
He was preceeded by Kayleen Kott, head of the Student Body President’s Council, who said students were willing to be arrested over the issue of apartheid and believed no action short of total divestment will send an adequate message against racisim.
During a lunch break before the disruption, Gov. George Deukmejian, who was at the meeting as a regent, said he was still undecided on the issue.
M.G. Buthelezi, chief minister of the Zulu tribe of South Africa, termed apartheid ″the scourge of the earth.″ But he cautioned that American withdrawal from the economic marketplace in South Africa would hurt the large population of young blacks who need jobs.