President Pusey Meets the Press

"I don't see how any young person could be alive in the world today and not be worried."

(In the days since April 9, President Pusey has appeared in public twice to explain his views on the causes and effects of the Harvard crisis. The first was an April 24 symposium at the Business School, where Pusey told an audience in an outdoor tent that force has no place in a university community. The second was last Sunday's "Meet the Press" television program, where Pusey answered questions from four newsmen for half an hour.

Following is a transcript of the show. The questioners are Lawrence Spivak and Sidney Lazard of NBC, Haynes Johnson of the Washington Star, and Thomas Winship of the Boston Globe. The program's moderator was Edwin Newman of NBC.)

NEWMAN: The disruption and violence that have struck many of the nation's campuses this year finally engulfed Harvard, America's oldest university.

Our guest today on Meet The Press is the president of Harvard, Nathan M. Pusey.

SPIVAK: Dr. Pusey, you've come in for great criticism because you called the police to clear out University Hall.

Now with the benefit of hindsight and for the benefit of other university presidents who may be in the same position as you were, do you really think that was the best way of handling the situation?

PUSEY: Well, I did at the time, and I must say I still do.

But you have to recognize that it was one of various possible alternatives. The others seemed clearly to be more productive of long range harm than calling the police at that time.

The question was whether or not we could survive such an action and still get the university back to its regular activity in a reasonable length of time better that way or by letting the thing drag on.

Had it dragged on and brought very large numbers of people from all over the area and the region into the Yard, I think probably the results might have been worse.

I think it would have divided our community very, very seriously. Certainly I think it would have been productive of long range damage.

SPIVAK: You're saying then that despite the fact that the police helped unite the SDS radicals and the moderate majority and a good part of the faculty, that if you had to do it all over again you simply would have done exactly the same thing?

PUSEY: Well, I hope I'm never put in a position where I have to make that kind of decision again.

But we did reckon at the time that some 2000 or more of our students would show an immediate sympathy with the SDS because the police were called.