New prod on S. Africa: students shun jobs

The latest twist in college anti-apartheid demonstrations aims to put job recruiters for United States corporations in South Africa at a disadvantage. Toting a large placard outside the headquarters of the Mobil Oil Corporation here on Tuesday, representatives of three student groups kicked off this divestment campaign by signing a statement pledging they will not take a job with any company doing business in South Africa.

``A company's most valuable resource is their employees,'' said Karen McMahon, a junior attending State University of New York at Stony Brook. ``We're making a personal statement of divestiture -- withdrawing our human capital.''

Launched a week ago by the student New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), the pledge campaign has attracted some 1,000 signatures at 18 colleges and universities in New York.

``Since companies spend a lot of money to recruit college students, we hope this will put them at a competitive disadvantage with other companies recruiting on campus,'' says Tom Wathen, an NYPIRG staff member.

Mobil officials had no comment on what effect this might have on recruitment. A spokesman, however, said Mobil was an early signatory of the Sullivan Code, whereby companies agree to desegregate the workplace. ``Rather than pulling out of South Africa, Mobil strongly believes its best role is to continue to provide jobs in its nondiscriminatory workplace, where [some] blacks supervise whites, and to finance training and community programs.''

Mobil is one of an estimated 250 US corporations in South Africa. The pledge campaign makes no distinction between companies that abide by the Sullivan Code and those that do not. Although the campaign is starting in New York, where about half the US corporations in South Africa are based, the goal is to spread it to campuses nationwide.

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