McGill South Africa Committee

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Duration: Unknown, apparently existed in the mid-1980s
Location: Montreal, Canada

The McGill South Africa Committee was formed in the early 1980s as a special committee of the Student Society (student government) of McGill University. The initial purpose of the McGill South Africa Committee was to study the question of divestment. The group eventually became a coordinating committee for anti-apartheid activity at the university. In the early 1980s, the focus of the group's work was campaigning to get McGill University to divest from companies doing business in South Africa. This work involved gaining the support of various university constituencies, such as the Student Society, the faculty and others. There was ongoing work to educate students on campus about the situation in South Africa and also Namibia and the Frontline States. This involved inviting speakers, writing letters and articles in the student newspaper, and organizing demonstrations. The McGill South Africa Committee worked with other university anti-apartheid groups in the city of Montreal. The pace of the work accelerated in the fall of 1985 as public focus on South Africa intensified. After a demonstration at the South African consulate in October, a group of McGill students briefly occupied the offices of senior university officials but withdrew after the Board of Governor's secretary agreed to place the issue of divestment on the agenda of the next Board meeting in November. At the November meeting, the McGill South Africa Committee organized a very large (and quite loud) demonstration outside the building where the Board was meeting; at that meeting the Board voted in favor of divestment. In the wake of divestment, the McGill South Africa Committee continued its work of educating students about the ongoing situation in South Africa and undertook a new project of supporting the ANC's Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) in Tanzania. The McGill South Africa Committee organized benefit concerts for SOMAFCO in the spring of 1986 and 1987 and possibly 1988. (Source: Peter Nixon, a former member of the McGill South Africa Committee.)