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Walkout at Columbia Graduation; 247 Arrests in California

May 16, 1985 GMT

Undated (AP) _ More than 200 anti-apartheid protesters were arrested on California campuses, while in New York students and teachers opposing Columbia University’s investment in firms operating in South Africa walked out on graduation ceremonies.

At the University of California at Santa Cruz, 183 people were arrested Wednesday and cited for blocking the school entrance. Among those arrested was Santa Cruz City Councilman Michael Rotkin.

Two men were slightly injured when a car rammed a line of protesters at the school’s main entrance. The 75-year-old driver was cited for reckless driving, university spokesman Tom O’Leary said.


At the University of California at Berkeley, 47 rabbis and others were cited and released in peaceful ″controlled arrests″ at University Hall, the administration center for the nine-campus UC system. About 650 people have been arrested at Berkeley since demonstrations began more than a month ago.

A University of California regents meeting in Berkeley today and Friday will include discussion of the university’s $2.4 billion investment in firms doing business with South Africa. The meeting is expected to draw huge numbers of protesters.

Police and university officials’ predictions of at least 2,500 to 3,000 demonstrators are much lower than those of the students, who say they expect up to 25,000 supporters for the largest protest here since the Vietnam War.

About 400 anti-apartheid demonstrators at UCLA held a send-off rally Wednesday as 65 of their colleagues boarded a bus for the Berkeley meeting.

In Goleta, 75 protesters occupied Chancellor Robert Huttenback’s office in Cheadle Hall after an anti-apartheid rally by 250 students at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

The demonstrators left after Huttenback agreed to sign his name to a poster that he would deliver to the UC regents meeting at Berkeley on Thursday. Later, Huttenback said he would throw away the poster because he was coerced into signing it.

The walkout by about 150 Columbia University graduates and a handful of faculty members punctuated ceremonies in which Columbia graduated 7,200 students but withheld diplomas from 15 seniors who joined in an April blockade during an anti-apartheid protest.

The protesters silently rose and left the outdoor ceremony on the central campus plaza as University President Michael I. Sovern began his commencement address. It was the first such graduation-day protest since the student unrest of the early 1970s, said university spokesman Fred Knubel.

The protesters ″said they weren’t going to disrupt the commencement. They didn’t,″ Knubel said.

″The students have been trying to communicate with the administration since 1977. And we’re still trying to make our voices heard,″ said Alan Holt as he and the other protesters walked past applauding onlookers.

Sovern did not depart from his prepared text, but briefly referred to the issue in his commencement address.

″This is a day of coming together,″ he said. ″We have had our differences at Columbia. That is the way of universities, of humankind. Let no tryant take comfort from these differences.″