To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The professors who signed yesterday's statement protesting the incident in Hunt Hall prefaced their declaration by saying "in the absence of a full and reliable account of what occurred there, we have no desire to pass judgment upon the incident." However, the facts of the incident make their defense of academic freedom meaningless.
Guerrilla troops of Afro members did not converge on Hunt Hall ready to attack Professor Bruening if he refused to change his course topic. About a hundred members did come to the class meeting and one read to statement clarifying Afro's objections to the course. Afro did not protest the original course syllabus only because of ideological differences. The syllabus indicated that the material taught in the course might directly endanger the lives of black people who, because they live in ghettos, could easily become involved in a "riot". The syllabus offered city planners a chance to study "the spatial relationships within and between buildings," so as "to determine their effects on the formation and control of riots."
Afro did not force Bruening to change the syllabus. Bruening understood their objections to it. He acknowledged that he had been mistaken in describing the course as he had. Meeting with Afro and several Design School students in the afternoon, he worked out a new program which was acceptable to everyone, including himself.
Academic freedom is obviously of great importance. But it was not the issue here. Bruening understood that it was more important for him to come to a friendly understanding with Afro--which he did--than to shelter himself behind his academic dignity and refuse to change his syllabus.
Bruening made it clear through his responsiveness that he did not feel his academic freedom was being threatened. It would make more sense for the indignant professors who signed yesterday's statement to ascertain "a full account" of what happened in Hunt Hall than to protest the incident in a dangerously ignorant way. Frances Lang '69