Black Harvard Officials Ask For No 'Reprisals'
The Association of Black Faculty, Fellows, and Administrators of Harvard University has approved by majority vote a statement strongly supporting OBU's demand for a 20 per cent minimum of black and minority group workers on University construction sites.
The group also asked the University "not to take reprisals against black students who had demonstrated their commitment to end radical injustice in the construction trades" by sit-ins during December.
The statement charges that the University, faced by OBU's just demands and restrained radical action, "retaliates with its unilateral power, couched in legalities, to suppress the very protests that spurred it to at least acknowledge the injustice of its former policies."
The Administration proceeded during Christmas vacation toward discipline proceedings against 36 OBU members and four white supporters for their actions during the occupation of University Hall on December 11.
Two of the white students, affiliated with the November Action Committee, were notified to pick up copies of charges against them today at the offices of their Senior Tutor.
A third received the following notification of changes pending against him and was asked to appear before a hearings panel of the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities on January 13:
"The Dean of Harvard College complains that on December 11, 1969, [the student]-
"Subjected the Dean of Harvard College to harassment by following him closely and shouting, thus interfering with his freedom of movement and freedom of speech.
"Such conduct was in the judgment of the Dean of Harvard College a violation of clause b and e of the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities..."
Yelling in Yard
The harassment allegedly occurred in the Yard when Dean May was reading a warning to the black students inside University Hall.
The white students charged have not yet decided whether they will appear at the hearings.
OBU leaders were not available for comment yesterday on whether the organ-ization's members had received copies of charges against them or on whether they would attend the hearings.
The four-page statement from the association of black Corporation appointees grew out of a Dec. 16 meeting of the newly-formed group. On that date, according to the statement, "a majority of Harvard's black faculty, fellows and administrators met and ratified the [Association] Steering Committee's position," which is outlined in the statement.
It was released with the signatures of acting co-chairmen Jean C. Watts, lecturer on Education, and Derrick A. Bell, lecturer on Law.
The statement charges that, although Harvard admits "complicity" with racial discrimination in construction trades, it "refuses compliance with student demands" that it take a role of leadership in ending discrimination.
"We are appalled at the prospect that an institution with which we are so closely identified may, through its intransigence and insensitivity to a matter of basic concern to black people, precipitate student protests that will have lasting consequences for them, for us and for Harvard," the statement said.
"We will not remain silent spectators in this crisis, but state our position as rationally as our minds will permit and as calmly as our emotions will allow," it continued.
The statement calls Harvard's history of complicity with the construction industry's discrimination "a definite example of institutional racism."
The Administration insists that a figure six to nine per cent lower than OBU"s demand for 20per cent would be more reasonable, the statement said. "but the University has never moved to implement its proposed percentages at other employment levels, including administration, faculty, staff and students."
"It ill becomes Harvard to seek the easy road to atonement for its participation in past racial injustices." the statement said.
The statement also presents justifications for the OBU occupations to force Harvard to accept the 20 per cent figure. "Experience has shown that Harvard, like other segments of American society, will not move aggressively toward just goals except in the face of radical action.".
The statement compares OBU's actions to freedom riders in the South and asks;
Will it not also be considered that the black student protests were designed to be and were inconveniencing and not destructive, that they were aimed at structures and not people, and were intended to and did focus attention on Harvard's involvement in and responsibility for racist practices which all concede were abhorrent?"
The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities cited alleged attacks on individuals as a basis for the severe punishment, including suspension or dismissal of 16 students, following a November 19 sit-in at Dean May's office.
May Avoid Firing
The repented absence of such attack soon December 11 has led to speculation that the Committee will avoid expelling OBU members.
"The University has a very detailed procedure for trying and disciplining those students and faculty found guilty of involvement in disruptive acts. It seems to have no such sensitive apparatus for recognizing and efficiently correcting the traditional social and racial injustices in which it participates," the statement said.