Summary of Princeton University student meeting with President
Harold T. Shapiro
(Dow Board member and a member of Dow's Environmental, Health, Safety and Public Policy Committee)
On Friday morning, 12 May 2000, a group of five met with President Shapiro
during his office hours to discuss the 1984 Bhopal tragedy in light of the merger between
Dow Chemical Corporation and Union Carbide Corporation and President Shapiro's position as
a Dow board member. The group consisted of Sai Gopisetty (GS), Donna Riley ('93,
post-Doc), Zia Mian (RS), Liam Mahony (GS), and Sanjeev Shukla (GS).
President Shapiro seemed defensive in addressing the group. His first reaction was to point out that he did not speak for the company and that he could not comment publicly on cases presently in the courts. He further stated that he could not discuss his interaction at Dow's board meeting in Michigan (11 November 2000).
He suggested that the group's concerns be taken up with Dow directly saying he did not want to be a conduit for such dialog. While seeking to project a neutral public stance by distancing himself from dialog, he suggested his proclivities with comments questioning the relevance of the tragedy 15 years in the past, where Dow was not involved, and which was settled in Indian courts. It was pointed out that Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) is evading criminal proceedings in Indian courts. He added that he does not know the legal requirements in such situations.
Because of his relatively cold reception to a dialogue on the issue, one member suggested: "We are not suggesting that you represent Dow. What we are wondering is, hypothetically, if we were to engage in a dialog and convince you of the moral claim that exists in this case, then given your position as Board member and decision-maker, might it not be logical that you could represent these concerns to the board?"
His somewhat begrudging answer was, "Yes, that might be conceivable."
He also made another statement that his primary responsibility of overseeing PU will limit the time he has for other issues.
While willing to entertain future meetings, he was unwilling to do in his capacity as a Dow board member. A dossier containing the Princeton University petition, the press release of the class action suit against Dow, a report by International Medical Commission on Bhopal, and a few newspaper accounts was handed to Shapiro near the end of the meeting. (See
President Shapiro said that he will respond to our petition at a later time. The meeting lasted around 10 minutes.