[Dear Friends: Welcome and thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to help establish the MIT Endowment For Divestiture.]
by Howard Branz, Alex B. Rosen, Kathy Stockton, MIT Coalition Against Apartheid
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
July 10, 1986
This mailing to people who have shown interest in the MIT Endowment For Divestiture shares recent news about the divestment campaign at MIT. This movement, which began more than fifteen years ago, has grown substantially during the last year. On December 18, a well-attended faculty meeting intensely debated a resolution calling on MIT to divest. Despite President Paul E. Gray leading the opposition, the faculty voted 3-to-1 in favor of the resolution. The MIT Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA) introduced motions in both the Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Council calling for a campus-wide referendum on divestment. About a week before the balloting, the CAA constructed and occupied a shantytown on Kresge Oval to depict the suffering of black South Africans and call attention to the crisis in South Africa and to the role of the U.S. in supporting the minority government. MIT has approximately $150 million of its $800 million endowment invested in corporations active in South Africa; despite widespread community opposition, it has no plans to change its investment policy. The letter provides context about the state of Emergency in South Africa, arrest and detention of an estimated 3,000 anti-apartheid leaders, a massive general strike, and new media censorship regulations. The letter also discusses challenges to the Reagan administration's policy of "constructive engagement." The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved legislation which calls for total divestiture of all South African holdings and imposing economic sanctions. Many city, county and state governments have adopted ordinances which forbid their funds from being invested in corporations doing business in or lending to South Africa. About 100 colleges and universities have taken a first step towards ending apartheid by refusing to invest their endowments in corporations doing business in South Africa.
Collection: Private collection of Willard Johnson