(The following are excerpts from a statement by Dean Ford, issued Friday, April 11.)
As everybody knows by now, University Hall was occupied beginning shortly after noon on Wednesday. The degree of premeditation was indicated by the fact that the intrduders had chains for securing doors, crowbars for smashing windows if necessary, and they also had a large supply of apparently miscellaneous keys.
So far as I know, the last three officers of the Faculty to leave were Dean Elder, Dean Glimp and myself.
This was about 12:45 p.m. From that time on, there were almost continuous discussions involving the President of the Executive Council of Deans, the Administrative Board of Harvard College, and the Masters of the Houses.
So far as the decision to clear the building is concerned, I should make clear that everyone involved in reaching that conclusion felt sadness and dread at the thought of the use of police within Harvard Yard. However, I remain convinced that, all things considered, there was no real alternative. Many members of the Harvard community--perhaps a majority at present--do not share that conviction. But I should like to explain the considerations which finally determined the move in the hope that they will at least be carefully considered by everyone arguing about it.
First, let it be kept in mind that a physically repugnant and intellectually indefensible seizure had occurred. It is not possible to discuss this issue without beginning with that event.
Second, University Hall is not just another building, one which could be left occupied and isolated while instruction and research continued elsewhere. In University Hall are the confidential personal files of all members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the complete financial records and current operating accounts of the Faculty, the personal folders of all members of the Freshman class, and a variety of other materials which are either confidential or necessary for the functioning of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, or both.
The fact that the door to the room containing the financial records was broken down by the intruders within hours of the occupation is an indication that time was a real factor to consider. Furthermore, personal correspondence between members of the faculty and past and present deans was lifted from the files in my office and systematic reproduction of such documents had already begun. Excerpts from some of these files have today appeared in the current issue of Old Mole, Boston's self-styled "radical weekly."
The arguments against using police to clear the building are self-evident. If we could have isolated the invaders of University Hall, while continuing a decent pattern of existence in the Yard, this would have been an infinitely better outcome than the one we have now to discuss. As I tried to explain, however, it is my firm conclusion that such an outcome was not a real alternative open to us. If there had been reality in the S.D.S. demands of the possibility of "talking the occupiers out" that too would have had to be carefully exploited. But the demands as such were non-negotiable, in the literal sense of offering no basis for discussion; and the temporary occupants of University Hall had made clear to me and to others that they felt "the time for talking is over."
We are now faced with the predictable next chapters of what has become the state script for "radicalization" of a university. Every effort is being made to focus attention on the appearance of police and to divert attention from the short-term and long-term implications of the building seizure itself. The usual vilification of individuals is well under way. Where real villians cannot be found, we may be sure that they will be invented.
For myself, I can only say that this has been a week of sickening events and discouraging discoveries about how some minds work. If the Harvard community, students and faculty alike, do not recognize that what is not at stake is the freedom to teach, to inquire and to learn--if that community sees in the present situation only an opportunity to attack the Governing Boards, the President, or some other part of the institution--there will be little point in pretending much longer that this is a real university. The buildings will remain but the soul will be gone.
Some now insist that "storm troopers entered University Hall." This is true, but they entered it at noon on Wednesday, not dawn on Thursday.