Brass Tacks The Aftermath
ASIDE FROM MEMORIES and a few tattered red fists pasted on obscure walls and garbage cans around Cambridge, what remains of the Harvard "crisis" lies buried in rather long, turgid reports sent out through the mail to almost all members connected with the University and in still unfinished committee hearings that are expected to drag on into the Fall.
In the aftermath of the Student strike, the string of investigating committees began to proliferate. First the Faculty appointed the Committee of 15, composed of both students and faculty, with the triple purpose of investigating causes, disciplining students, and recommending changes in Harvard's governance. Immediately after, the Freund Committee, headed by Law Professor, Paul Freund, began to study the possible "misconduct" of 14 teaching fellows or faculty members arrested during the take-over of University Hall.
Primarily out of liberal faculty members' desire to achieve fairness, the already numerous committees spawned even more. The Committee of 15 split into three working groups. A Joint Committee, composed of three faculty members and two members of the Harvard Corporation, was established to review the investigations of the Freund Committee on Faculty misconduct. In disciplining faculty members, the Freund Committee has been the equivalent of a Grand Jury, the Joint Committee, a trial, and the Corporation decision, the verdict, one committee member explained.
So far, all this academic searching for the Truth has produced many promises of reform, but only one concrete result: a confirmation of the University's power to punish rebellious members of its community.
Rushing to meet the deadline of Commencement, the Committee of 15 disciplined the 138 students arrested in University Hall using five new categories of punishment. One hundred and two have been placed "under warning" that "in the event of any subsequent misconduct, his disciplinary status will be more grave." This ill-defined admonition, supposedly a step more severe than the now useless "probation" may become a major source of controversy in the event of further disruptions. Twenty students received suspended "required to withdraw" penalties placing them on probation for one year with near certain dismissal for "subsequent misconduct."
Only 16 students have actually been forced to leave Harvard as a result of the Spring events. Eight have been required to withdraw for one or two years, but may be readmitted afterwards with the consent of vet another disciplinary committee expected to replace the Committee of 15. Five students have been "separated" from the University for one or two years, but can return on a majority vote of the Faculty. Three students have left the campus for good, dismissed on a two-thirds vote of the June 9 Faculty meeting.
AFTER THE COMMITTEE OF FIFTEEN completed its disciplinary proceedings, the Freund Committee and the Joint Committee began considering the case of 14 Corporation appointees arrested in the April occupation. Last week. the Joint Committee announced what is likely to prove its most controversial decision. Jack Stauder, Instructor in Social Relations, and head of the radical course Soc Rel 149, had his two-year teaching appointment reduced to one year, with the stipulation that he cannot teach during the first semester of his remaining term as instructor. Twelve of the other 13 arrested are either not returning to Harvard or not planning to teach this year. The other Corporation appointee made a full confession and was permitted to teach, though placed on a year's probation.
Because of his popularity and because he was the highest ranking faculty member investigated. Stauder's case might well become the rallying point of student discontent, radical and otherwise, over the Spring and summer proceedings. Radicals in particular have interpreted the Corporation decision as a complete firing from the University with the extra year at Harvard as time to find a new job.
The background of the case tends to reinforce this conclusion. This is, after all, the first time a faculty member has been demoted for political action since the McCarthy era, and the only tampering with contracts since that time aside from the dismissal of Timothy Leary in the early sixties. In addition, the Joint Committee did make a point of stating "We hope that the Corporation will make unequivocably clear that any such conduct by anyone holding a Corporation appointment will here after invariably be deemed grounds for immediate termination of that appointment."
Members of the Joint Committee, however, claim that their decision has been misinterpreted. Calling it the mildest alternative open to the group, one of the members emphasized that there is nothing in the report to prevent Stauder from teaching during the Spring and receiving a new appointment from the Soc Rel department next May.
Realizing that this is the first disciplinary hearing since McCarthy, the Committee gave Stauder another year, in part to find another job, but more important because, as the report stated, "the responsibilities which go with a Corporation appointment.... have been obscured by the failure to take disciplinary action in cases where faculty participation in or encouragement of disruptive activities were widely believed to have occurred."
AS IT TURNED OUT, the Joint Committee decisions did not conclude the University's proceedings against Corporation appointees. The names of four teaching fellows not arrested in the occupation were brought before the Freund Committee, but the Committee found no reason to "indict" the four fellows and recommend them for further prosecution.
The "prosecutor" for the administration during the hearings, however, had read the four names in the newspapers and decided their cases should not have been dropped. In what amounted to an overruling of the Freund Committee and a denial of the due process so carefully constructed for discipline proceedings, President Pusey and the Corporation asked the heads of departments in which the four teaching fellows taught to "review" their position within the University. In making its request the Corporation had, in effect, exerted the full range of its powers to discipline the alleged offenders.
The heads of both departments involved-Government and Economics-recommended the four tutors for reappointment, despite their "review" of the tutors position. Not content with this decision, the Corporation asked another reconsideration of the cases. Once again the departments have resubmitted the names and the Corporation approved them Monday: probably to avoid making an unprecedented encroachment on departmental autonomy and opening the issue of academic freedom.
Though the disciplinary proceedings growing out of last April's occupation have now been all but wrapped up and packed away, promises of University reform remain nothing more than promises, and vague ones at that. The Friendly Committee report, as yet unreleased, presents only a broad analysis of the Spring crisis. The Overseers have, however, recognized that the overriding issue of University governance must be decided by a representative spectrum of the University. Reliable sources indicate that the report will recommend an unprecedented committee composed of students, faculty. Overseers, and Corporation members to revamp the entire decision-making process.
The Committee of 15, however, did release, along with its punishment decisions, some comment on the crisis and some hints of long-range changes.
In response to Harvard's new situation, the Committee of 15 issued a short "Resolution of Rights and Responsibilities" which the Faculty passed overwhelmingly at the same meeting during which it punished the students. As it turns our, the statement plays rather heavily on the responsibilities, while leaving the "rights", which supposedly "apply equally to students, officers of instruction, and officers of administration." somewhat ill-defined.
The document is also very specific on the punishment incurred for violation of responsibilities, but hazily refers violation of rights to the Committee of 15 for consideration. Plainly, there are no processes binding on an administrator who violates a student's "rights." For instance, what does a student do when a Dean ignores "his right to a full and fair hearing and prompt response."
THE REPORT elaborates five specific kinds of responsibilities which cover every major protest staged at Harvard since the McNamara incident in 1966. One specifically warns against "obstruction of the normal processes and activities essential to the functions of the University community." The question arises, of course, does this include refusing to pay term bills, or hissing in lectures, not eating in the right dorm or any number of forms of protest.
Asked what kinds of dissent used in the past might be acceptable, a faculty member on the committee could only cite one: the mill-in at University Hall last spring. In any case, the Committee of 15 will soon recommend a Rights and Responsibilities Committee to assist the Ad Board in punishing violations of the new rules.
Recommendations for changes in the governing of Harvard-the moderate students desire to open channels to administrators-were also included in the Committee of 15's mandate and the first of the recommendations is expected during the Fall term. In addition, the Fainsod Committee on restructuring the governing processes of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will make its report early this Fall, which might also open selected Faculty committees to students. The trend of the changes, however, might not increase the accessibility of President Pusey, where, as was demonstrated when police entered Harvard last Spring, much real power lies.
"Whether or not Nathan Pusey is more accessible." one of the faculty members on the Committee of 15 said, "those responsible for major decisions will be." Perhaps so, but in the interim, while the channels of communication are being opened, almost any kind of protest can potentially bring swift and heavy punishment. Students, in effect have been asked to trust the Faculty to come up quickly with far-reaching reforms that will make forcible protests unnecessary.
If reform comes, it will significantly narrow the chasm which the events of the summer and spring opened. The dismissals during the summer were a show of force with the promise of reason to follow. Without the kicker, the events of April will leave a legacy of force without reason.