Joseph A. Rhodes Jr. yesterday assailed President Nixon for his treatment of the Commission on Campus Unrest, charging that Nixon's recent letter on the Commission's findings is "just another maneuver."
"The letter really doesn't say much about the substance of our report," said Rhodes, a Junior Fellow at Harvard and member of the Commission. "We urged the President to deal with the fundamental issues in a way that will be a reconciling force... The campaign was his basic statement on the report. This letter is just another maneuver."
In a letter dated Dec. 10 to William W. Scranton, chairman of the Commission, Nixon stated that responsibility for maintaining order on campus "rests squarely with the members of the academic community themselves."
'As Deep As Any'
The Commission's report, released last September, had put much of the blame for campus violence and national polarization on the Administration. It also termed the divisions in America "as deep as any since the Civil War."
Nixon's letter-which deals almost entirely with the specific issue of campus unrest-stated that "moral authority in a great and diverse nation such as ours does not reside in the Presidency alone. There are thousands upon thousands of individuals... to whom segments of the nation look for moral, political, and intellectual leadership."
Speaking more directly of those who have blasted campus disorders, Nixon added, "High in that category I would place the Vice-President of the United States. History will look favorably, I believe, on these men and women."
No Veto Power
Noting that students comprise only four per cent of the national population, Nixon's letter added that "no minority, no matter how united, how vocal, or how articulate, has veto power over a President's decision to do what he believes is right in the nation's interest."
Nixon agreed with the Commission's statements condemning campus violence and denying that the federal government should assume primary responsibility for ending specific disorders.
"Campus unrest is not the main problem facing America today," Rhodes said yesterday. "There is something deeply wrong with the way the President is comprehending his role. His list of real problems and real solutions is really out of phase with most people in this country."
Rhodes also charged that Nixon's conduct in the 1970 elections was "diametrically the opposite of what we recommended in the report. The President had concluded that the campaign would build on the divisions in America and amplify them."
Rhodes added that he would comment further on the report after discussing it with the other members of the Commission.