To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
It seems a widespread feeling among the Harvard community that the Jan. 14 faculty decision on the fate of the Paine Hall demonstrators was an example of unusual tolerance. A serious misconception lies in such a belief, a misconception that should be dispelled by the following letter, sent by Dean Elder after the Tuesday meeting to each of the graduate students involved:
Because of your involvement in the obstruction at Paine Hall of the faculty's scheduled meeting on the 12th of December, 1968, the Administrative Board of this School has voted to sever your connection with the School. It has also, however, voted to suspend this severance, the suspension to be enforced until you either take the Ph.D. or voluntarily withdraw from the School. The Board has further voted that if in the future it finds that you have participated in obstructing the orderly workings of any segment of the university, it will cancel the suspension and sever your connection. The judgment of the academic and professional implications of your conduct cannot, of course, be made by this board.
This letter is remarkable for the unlimited powers of judgment the Ad Board grants itself in determining what actions are "obstructive," and what areas of university life must be protected from them. "Obstructing" could include any dissenting action, whether this be giving all A's to contest the grading system, or burning down the ROTC building. It is clear that the judgment of the Ad Board and the faculty's endorsement constitute no act of clemency, but one of political intimidation and repression.
This intimidation is understood by the pointed reference to "academic and professional implications," and by the fact that a carbon of each of the letters was sent to the department chairmen of the students in question. Far from restraint of judgment, this represents a crude threat to the students' future careers.
Morevoer, particular circumstances in the country at this time make the Ad Board judgment appear in a large and sinister light. Repression of dissent is now national policy by virtue of the "ant-riot" provisions in Public Laws 90-550, 90-557, and Sec. 504 of Public Law 90-575. Is Harvard in any way to grant support for such dangerous policy? There seems at the moment every reason to believe that in issues far greater in scope and significance than the one at hand, Harvard's administration and faculty will act not only to support, but to further such policy, for, as Col. Pell and all of us are aware, Harvard acts as an example not only ot the academic community at large, and to the nation.
We feel that the decision ought to be reversed by the Faculty, and fought by everyone. Ellen Cantarow Alan Dawley Arthur MacEwen Jane Goldsmith Frank Mirer Harvard New University Conference