October 14, 1993

Swarthmore seeks reinvestment in South Africa following the end of apartheid

In making the case for reinvestment in South Africa, President Al Bloom stated:

“As I expressed to the faculty and to the student body and to the Board, I believe the College should respond to Nelson Mandela’s call to begin again to invest in companies which do business in South Africa. Such a move would both be a visible sign of our support for the constructive directions which are being pursued in South Africa and would free the college to invest in ways it deems most appropriate to fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility to guarantee the best education it can to this and future generations of students. The original decision to divest resulted form a community expression of moral outrage at the Apartheid system and I believe the decision to discontinue that divestment must also be a decision that represents the collective commitment of the the community.”

The ban on ethical divestment makes Bloom’s statement ring hollow. How could Swarthmore claim to “support” the post-apartheid government while maintaining a policy that would have kept the College invested in apartheid? How could the decision to reinvest represent “the collective commitment of the the community” if the community was kept in the dark about a policy banning divestment?