Cox Panel Spreads Blame For Uprisings at Columbia
In its 222-page report released Saturday, the five-man Columbia investigative commission, headed by Archibald Cox, professor of Law, blamed everyone--administration, students, faculty, and police--for what happened at Columbia last spring.
The commission's report criticized the "excessive force" used by the raiding police, the "attitude of authoritarianism" which the Columbia administration displayed and which "invited distrust," the "opposition between the administration and the faculty as rival bodies," and the "disruptive tactics" of the students who occupied five Columbia buildings.
Besides Cox, who was U.S. Solicitor General from 1961 to 1965, the commission's members were Dr. Dana L. Farnsworth, director of Harvard's University Health Services, two lawyers--Anthony G. Amsterdam and Simon H. Rifkind--and Hylan G. Lewis, professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College.
The "liberal and reform-minded students," the report stated, "can save or destroy the institution." The commission said that the "survival--literally the survival--of the free university depends upon the entire community's active rejection of disruptive demonstrations." For, it said, "resort to violence or physical harassment or obstruction is never an acceptable tactic for influencing decisions in a university."
The Cox Commission was established on May 4 by the Executive Committee of Columbia's Faculty to develop a chronology of the rebellion at Columbia and to determine the underlying causes. It held 21 days of hearings and heard testimony from 79 witnesses. However, members of Columbia Students for a Democratic Society and the Student Afro-American Society boycotted the hearings.
The report, entitled "Crisis at Columbia" and secretly printed by Random House in eight days, will go on sale today. It will cost 25 cents at Columbia, and $1.95 everywhere else.
The commission members "reject the view that ascribes the April and May disturbances to a conspiracy of student revolutionaries." The report said that "the grievances of the rebels were felt by...probably a majority of the students." This support, it said, was felt even before the violent confrontations with the police. "Support for the demonstrators," the commission wrote, "rested upon broad discontent and widespread sympathy for their position."
The Commission said it was "impressed" by three basic causes of this discontent:
* The authoritarianism of the administration that in part "resulted from style," but also, in part, "reflected the true state of affairs."
* The "quality of student life," which was "inferior in living conditions and personal associations."
* The "extraordinary difficulties that faced black students in the transition from a society permeated by racial injustice to one of true equality of opportunity," which "Columbia, like other universities, has scarcely faced."
The three central demands of the student rebels at Columbia--the cutting of Columbia's ties with the Institute for Defense Analyses, the halting of construction on the gymnasium in Harlem, and the granting of amnesty to six students who had participated in an earlier demonstration aimed against I.D.A.--were called "inadequate causes for an uprising, when stripped of their context and symbolism."
But, the report said, the three issues symbolized the students' "intense moral indignation against the Vietnam war," feelings towards "Columbia's relations with its poorer neighbors and society's treatment of racial ghettos," and the whole issue of free speech and free assembly