Graduation Protest Supported By SDS
Approximately 140 SDS supporters last night decided to stage a walk-out--complete with picket signs and chanting--at Harvard Commencement on Thursday.
The group also voted, however, that their tactics "should not embitter" anyone else planning action during commencement. The SDS co-chairmen were given authority to negotiate over the tactics of the walkout with the Ad Hoc Committee on Commencement, which is planning a silent walk-out from the ceremonies. A meeting off all seniors interested in action during commencement was tentatively scheduled for this evening.
The SDS decisions came after more than two hours of debate in a meeting held on the steps of Memorial Church--a last minute choice after the group had been unable to find another site.
Much of the debate centered on the question of whether SDS supporters should go along with the ad hoc committee's walk-out. Some SDS members termed the ad hoc committee's walk-out pledge which does not specify support of the SDS demands--"bad politics," but arguments that SDS should not alienate potential allies won out in the end.
About 70 seniors have signed the Ad Hoc Committee's walk-out pledge, and organizers of the committee say that about 250 seniors may sign before Commencement.
The SDS meeting did turn thumbs down on M.I.T. linguistics professor Noam Chomsky as a speaker for the rally which the ad hoc committee is planning to hold outside the Yard after the walk-out occurs. Chomsky had told the ad hoc committee that he would speak at the rally only if his presence was acceptable to Harvard SDS.
Chomsky was rejected almost unanimously after the SDS meeting heard speakers denounce his alleged positions in favor of restructuring universities (an SDS bete noire) and against the Dow sit-in.
The meeting also decided to have pickets outside the Yard during commencement, and to collect tickets to commencement from seniors so that those SDS supporters who are not seniors would be able to gain entry to the Yard for the commencement action.