THE RESPONSE OF THE PRINCETON COALITION FOR DIVESTMENT TO PRESIDENT BOWEN'S REMARKS ON UNIVERSITY INVESTMENTS IN COMPANIES DOING BUSINESS IN SOUTH AFRICA

by Princeton Coalition for Divestment
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
May 7, 1985
6 pages
Type: Statement
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents: The response to Princeton University President Bowen addresses six points. 1) President Bowen argues that corporate withdrawal might not contribute to the end of apartheid in South Africa. • 2) President Bowen questions the efficacy of divestiture as a pressure on corporations to withdraw from South Africa. He argues that "companies are much more responsive to reasoned argument … than to apparently dramatic actions." • 3) President Bowen argues that in moral terms divestiture is a "self-congratulatory" washing of hands. • 4) President Bowen contends that the fiduciary responsibilities of the University trustees preclude divestiture. • 5) President Bowen argues that divestiture from companies involved in South Africa isolates a particular issue and thus violates the principle of fairness and consistency in judging corporations by their performance over a broad range of issues. • 6) President Bowen asserts that the use of divestiture as an "economic pressure" to influence the policies of corporations would open the University to "economic coercion by those outside the University" to conform to their ideas as to how the University should function. • 7) President Bowen asserts that to divest would be to advocate "a particular political strategy" and thus compromise "the openness of, the University to a range of viewpoints on all matters." • 8) President Bowen contends that the debate over divestiture has deflected energy on this campus from the pursuit of other political options in regards to U.S. policy on South Africa and the University's primary educational goals in regards to these matters. • The statement says the Princeton Coalition for Divestment disagrees notes that Bowen asserts that the University’s autonomy precludes any involvement in economic and political matters, yet he confirmed that the University is neither morally nor politically neutral in regards to its investment in corporations doing business in South Africa. Since 1978, there has been an increase in violent repression in South Africa; in the past nine months, over 400 Black South Africans have been killed by the military and police. While U.S. banks now rarely loan money directly to the South African government (in order to avoid the stigma of complicity with the oppressive regime), the increase in U.S. bank loans to the private sector in South Africa from $1 billion in 1981 to $4.3 billion in 1984 has played a pivotal role in financing South Africa's massive $12 billion balance of payments deficit. These trends have given rise to a national movement to end U.S. economic and political support for the apartheid system. Over the past year, states, municipalities, trade unions, and churches have divested over $12 billion from companies operating in South Africa. Also, a number of distinguished universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Brown have cautiously divested tens of millions of dollars from companies that do not conform to the Sullivan Principles or from banks that still lend to the South African government. Massive student protests for divestment have spread to hundreds of colleges and universities - from Berkeley, UCLA, and Santa Cruz to Grinnell, Madison, and Oberlin, to Cornell, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Columbia University. At Princeton, in the past month thousands of students, faculty, and staff have vocally demanded stronger actions from the Board of Trustees. Further educational efforts, divestment from banks lending directly to the South African government and a moratorium on further investments in companies doing business in South Africa are all options that the University must consider as first steps toward total divestment. In consultation with students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the Trustees and President should seriously re-think the University's investment policy. The statement also mentions unions, workers, the Reagan administration, the Congress, economic and diplomatic support for the apartheid regime, sanctions, the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan African Congress (Pan Africanist Congress, PAC), the United Democratic Front (UDF), the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the Federation of South African Trade Unions, the Council of South African Trade Unions (Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU), the South African Students Organization (SASO), former South African Prime Minister John Vorster, and President Botha (P.W. Botha). Note: According to The Daily Princetonian of May 8, 1985 this statement was produced after the May 7, 1985 forum addressed by Bowen. [This document is included in "The Princeton Coalition for Divestment: A Case History, April - June 1985."]

Used by permission of Thomas J. Knock. 
Collection: Thomas J. Knock papers