Stony Brook Students Stage Anti-Apartheid Sit-in

Dube’s tenure is one of students’ demands

Amiri Baraka

Contributing editor

STONY BROOK, NY — A group of students representing a “united front” of multinational organizations on this campus held a series of rallies and demonstrations culminating in a sit- and sleep-in at the administration building of the State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook.

They are demanding that SUNY Central, the Albany-based administrative center for the entire statewide system of colleges and universities in New York, must divest its millions of dollars of investments in South Africa-connected stock. Stony Brook itself has no direct South African investments, although the nominally private Stony Brook Foundation, a group that contributes private funds to special university projects, has some $14 million in South African-related investments.

Students have put forward three demands: 1) that the Stony Brook Foundation divest, 2) that SUNY Central divest. The third demand is that Assistant Professor E. Fred Dube, the South African-born psychology professor, .receive tenure as a member of the Africana Studies program at Stony Brook.

Dube tenure struggle

Dube has been attacked by local Zionists for including facts about Israeli imperialism in his course.

Dube’s tenure struggle arises (see UNITY, May 3, 1985) from opposition by Zionist forces on campus who want Dube removed because he issued a syllabus for his course, “The Politics of Race,” which stated as a possible topic for a term paper, “Zionism as a form of racism.” Even though there were alternative paper topics, the Zionism as racism theme is simply a restatement of the 1975 United Nations vote that confirmed that most of the nations of the world see political Zionism as simply a philosophical justification for Israeli Imperialism, which is most obviously and publicly racist.

Stony Brook’s President Marburger appeared before the students and declared himself also an enemy of apartheid. He even went as far as to join the students in a symbolic burning of the apartheid passbook, the South African badge of Nazi racism. This is all relatively easy, because Stony Brook has no South African stocks directly.

But when the students raised the question of Dube’s tenure, Marburger reverted to his bourgeois tap dance. He asserted that the Dube tenure decision had nothing to do with the divestiture issue. But this is a distortion. Dube has been attacked by local Zionists for including facts about Israeli imperialism in one of his courses. Israeli imperialism and South African apartheid are blood brothers.

Dube is a member of the ANC (African National Congress of South Africa), and is very actively engaged in helping to destroy apartheid. Israel is one of apartheid’s most public supporters. And while Dube has not yet completed the academic writing emphasized by universities as one element necessary for achieving tenure, Fred Dube was locked up for seven years in South Africa’s notorious Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela is now imprisoned). Dube’s uncle was one of the founders of the ANC. Dube is living history, and the South African struggle is one of the key struggles of our time!

University officials brought former U.S. Senator Jacob Javits on campus as a permanent educational resource, not on the Senator’s writings, but on the basis of his unique experience as a professional U.S. politician. Dube’s experience is invaluable, and it is generally accessible to Stony Brook students. To bring some “pure” academic, e.g., someone who has merely read books about South Africa by some other people who have never been there, is the unfortunate norm at U.S. universities.

The decision on Dube’s tenure should have been rendered by now. Apparently, university officials are waiting until the summer, till the end of the semester and after graduation, when many students return to their homes for vacation, before they render their decision. But the Africana Studies program, the Black faculty and staff association, and the student united front, are demanding tenure for Dube.

Both Marburger and the University Senate have issued positive statements condemning apartheid and urging divestment. On May 21, students and faculty went en masse to Albany to SUNY Central, to demand divestiture of South African stock. Governor Cuomo has now made a statement that he supports a bill that will make it against the law for the state to do business with apartheid firms. But if Professor Dube does not get tenure, it will be clear that both Israeli imperialism and South African apartheid have enjoyed another victory.