YESTERDAY'S SIT-IN at Paine Hall began as a protest against ROTC, and as such it will likely prove to have been a failure. The sit-in did not succeed in dramatizing the political issues involved in ROTC's presence here. And its aftermath, like the aftermath of last year's demonstration against Dow, will inevitably shift attention away from political issues altogether, and towards the more mundane administrative questions of punishments and proprieties.
It is also possible that the Faculty will now use the sit-in as an excuse to abandon the issue of ROTC completely. To do so would be a mistake. There are a great many people at Harvard who are very determined to see the University's one-sided relationship with ROTC amended, and yesterday's demonstration has certainly not changed this.
But one thing has been changed by the sit-in, and this for the good. The demonstration has indicated that there may be something very wrong with the way in which this university is governed. The tradition of closed, semi-secret Faculty meetings has been forcefully challenged, and must now be defended on rational grounds.
There are always those who will argue that these matters are best pursued through normal channels. But this presupposes that both sides are prepared to respond reasonably and fairly to the arguments of the other. When this condition is not met, the normal channels just don't work.
Last Spring, the Harvard Undergraduate Council asked for student representation on two faculty committees. The answer was no--not for any particular reason, but just because the members of these committees "weren't convinced" that students should be allowed in. Two weeks ago, anti-ROTC demonstrators got as far as the door of a Faculty meeting, and were turned away, again without a reasonable explanation. Yesterday, the demonstrators asked Dean Glimp why the Faculty could not meet in the presence of students, and he told them that it was because of the rules.
This "explanation" should be considered before concluding that the people who sat in yesterday are simply incorrigible wreckers. The explanation is no explanation at all. If the Administration cannot present real arguments for closed Faculty meetings, then the rules should be changed, and such meetings as the one scheduled for yesterday should be open to students. And no one should be surprised if, in the meantime, the Faculty's rules are not entirely respected.
Yesterday's sit-in, for all the anger and irritation which it has provoked, has not changed the facts of the ROTC question, and the Faculty should not forget about ROTC because of it. And even in diverting attention from the ROTC issue, the demonstration has subjected the tradition of closed Faculty meetings to rational scrutiny--something which, in an intellectual community, is never to be feared.