[Dear President Gray, We write to you having just recently been informed that the forum on MIT's South Africa-related investments--which we were told was being planned for this fall--has been canceled.]
by MIT Coalition Against Apartheid
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
September 29, 1986
Copy of letter to Paul E. Gray, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), signed by Steve Penn, Gretchen Ritter, Larry Kolodney, Scott Saleska, and Elizabeth Sayre. The letter criticizes the cancellation of a discussion about divestment that was to be organized by the MIT Colloquium Committee. MIT’s $150 million invested in apartheid must be divested now, as the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA) has demanded for a year-and-a-half. This demand has been joined by pro-divestment resolutions passed by the MIT faculty, by the graduate student body, and by the undergraduate student body. The black-led frontline states that border South Africa--which stand to suffer severely for their actions--have called for and imposed sanctions against South Africa. Most importantly, the blacks of South Africa themselves have, individually and collectively, continued to call overwhelmingly for the withdrawal of foreign investment. MIT had said it was in the process of re-evaluating its South Africa investment policy, and that there could be a meeting with the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR). But the decision was made that the ACSR would meet privately with three Coalition members on December 11, the second to last day of classes. At this point, we built a symbolic South African "Township Alexandra" to dramatize the plight of the South Africans and to show solidarity with them in their struggle. We also brought our concerns directly to the MIT Corporation at their March 7th meeting. Over 100 Coalition members requested that two of their number be allowed into the meeting to present their case directly to those who make MIT's investment decisions; instead, Vice-presidents William Dickson and Constantine Simonides led the Campus Police on a dawn raid which resulted in the destruction of Township Alexandra and the arrest of eight MIT students. The CAA continues to be open to any meaningful discussions that would allow the MIT community to participate in a re-evaluation of MIT's investment policy, but not in meaningless committees or in meetings behind closed doors. The MIT community is invited to join our rally on October 3 to again bring this issue to the attention of the MIT Corporation during its Fall meeting.
Collection: Private collection of Willard Johnson