Selective divestment of holdings in companies that do business in South Africa and a condemnation of apartheid were approved during the weekend by the College of William and Mary's board of visitors.

In setting an investment policy for the first time, the board of the Williamsburg college endorsed the so-called Sullivan Principles as an "appropriate response to apartheid by companies doing business in South Africa." Developed by the Rev. Leon Sullivan of Philadelphia, a member of General Motors' board of directors, the principles ask that companies recognize the right of Africans to form and belong to trade unions and assist in the development of black business enterprises. A year ago the principles were expanded to call for an end to apartheid.

Although the William and Mary board adopted guidelines that could lead to divestment, the board said that it "does not feel that its investment portfolio should be used to participate in political matters, regardless of the merits of the issue."

Henry L. Tucker Jr., chairman of the board's financial affairs committee, said an exception to the policy was agreed to because of the interest in the South African situation and in recognition of the strong concern of student, faculty and other interest groups.

About $42 million worth of stocks, bonds and cash is under the control of the board and the W&M Endowment Association. There are five known stocks of companies that have not signed the Sullivan Principles.