NEW YORK -- A dozen Yale University students carried signs and chanted in an anti-apartheid protest Thursday outside a Park Avenue bank where the Ivy League school's governing board met on the college's South African investment policy.
The board, called the Yale Corporation, met in closed session to hear a report on a recent fact-finding tour to South Africa, which one member of the tour called 'deeply troubling.'
The tour was led by former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, a board member who brought nine other Yale representatives to South Africa last month to examine conditions in the white-ruled nation.
Yale has $400 million in corporations doing business in South Africa.
Student protesters said Thursday's march, which drew only mild curiosity from the hustling midtown lunch crush, was the first time in the anti-apartheid campaign that a protest was held off Yale's New Haven, Conn., campus.
The protesters are critical of the board's 'selective divestment' policy, which tries to bring about social change through its investments. It was revised and strengthened in March.
'As far as we're concerned, any policy short of divestment is just a facade,' said student protestor Sarah Chinn, 18, a Yale sophomore. 'Unless they totally divest, they're still exploiting the system of apartheid for what it's worth.'
Protesters carried signs reading 'Support ANC' for the black African National Congress independence movement, and chanted 'Apartheid Kills -- Yale Pays the Bills' and 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, there's blood on your portfolio.'
The peaceful protest was staged outside the Park Avenue headquarters of Manufacturers Hanover Trust, where Vance has an office and the board members met for the trip's briefing.
On Monday, Vance and Yale President Benno Schmidt Jr. have called a news conference at Yale to describe what was learned on the trip.
'Our trip to South Africa was deeply troubling,' said corporation member Maxine Singer, a biochemist at the National Cancer Institute. 'It's a terrible place. I learned the situation is a lot more complicated than I thought it to be.'
Singer called the apartheid issue 'complicated' but said the board members, because they already have invested in companies doing business there, 'have to deal with it.'