The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News May 11, 2007

Divestment Activists Build Shantytown

In early May 1986, anti-apartheid activists found some new, creative venues to broadcast their protests to the administration. In order to encourage divestment from South African companies, students-turned-architects helped adorn the campus with a slew of impromptu structures.

—The News Team

May 2, 1986

A week after the first four shanties went up, five more shanties and a “Shanty Memorial Arch” have been built around the Cox Administration Building, renamed “Dube Hall” by anti-apartheid activists last year. Students have occupied the shantytown day and night all week.

A rally and “build-in” were planned for this afternoon to generate more student support for the protest of Oberlin’s continued investments in South Africa-related corporations. A “sleep-in” is planned in and around the shantytown tonight. Shanties&hellip;will be built in Wilder Bowl, where Mayfair is to be held tomorrow.

Students involved in the demonstration demanded that the Executive Council of the Board of Trustees move the divestment issue from the bottom to the top of the full Board’s June agenda&hellip;

President Starr said Tuesday that as long as the shanties are not infringing on people’s rights to do their jobs or study, the administration will not ask students to take the shanties down. “I don’t see any big issue over this,” he said. “The important thing is people’s ability to get their work done.”

But according to Schur, security officers approached activists Tuesday afternoon and told them that the shanty closest to Wilder Bowl will have to be moved by May 19. “They were very careful not to say ‘taken down,’” Schur said. “But most of us want to defend the shanties when it comes to it.”


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