Synapse: November 8, 1984

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From 30 Years Ago:

Vol. 29, No. 10, Nov. 8, 1984:

Today, the most prominent divestment movement at UCSF is to withdraw from fossil-fuel companies. A generation ago, it was divestment from South Africa in protest of apartheid that was front and center.

Thirty years ago, the Synapse published two lengthy articles on this topic, both by Charles Piller. One article, "The racist policies of South Africa," provided a wide-ranging look at the discriminatory policies of South Africa and its large disparities in health, housing, education, and economic opportunities.

The second, "Schmid's Africa trip - pros & cons," responded to then School of Medicine Dean Rudi Schmid's fifth trip to South Africa. According to the article, Schmid ardently criticized apartheid and argued that such trips were important for interacting with apartheid opponents in South Africa. Piller also presented the counterargument that boycotting South Africa, including academics refraining from traveling there, was the best course.

These articles reflect a UCSF in which apartheid was a topic of active discussion, but there was not yet the university-wide response sought by many. It would not be until 1986 that the University of California regents would agree to begin divesting from South Africa -- driven strongly by massive protests at Berkeley in the spring of 1985.