The Law School Faculty dramatically reversed its position late last night when it voted overwhelmingly to postpone its review of the disciplinary actions against five black students who participated in OBU building seizures last semester.
After meeting behind locked doors in Holyoke Center for more than four hours, the faculty decided to hold one or more meetings over the next three days to discuss the issues of the takeovers and the procedures leading up to the Administrative Board's decisions.
The unexpected decision came after a tense afternoon and night of meetings during which the faculty deliberated for a total of more than seven hours.
A group of more than 60 law students protesting the faculty's plan to consider the punishments gathered outside both meetings all day with the intention of disrupting the meeting if the faculty began to discuss the cases.
Derek C. Bok, dean of the Law Faculty, adjourned Tuesday's faculty meeting after a group of 30 students refused to leave.
The faculty met yesterday afternoon in a special meeting to discuss the suggestion that student representatives participate in the faculty's discussion of the five cases.
Some 60 students-at least half of whom said they would disrupt the meeting if the faculty discussed the cases-waited outside the faculty meeting for three hours to hear the group's decision.
The faculty decided to admit 11 students-three from the Ad Board, and eight from the Student-Faculty Governance Committee-to its meeting, but it adjourned before it could discuss the punishments.
The students were angry with that decision, but they were incensed when Jerome A. Cohen, professor of Law and spokesman for the faculty, announced that the faculty would not divulge the time and place for its next meeting.
"The faculty wanted to minimize any risk that other students would jeopardizetheir careers by trying to disrupt the faculty meeting, and there was the feeling that the conditions were not conducive for discussion," Bok said late last night.
After a number of heated exchanges with faculty members who refused to say where or when the faculty was meeting, the students decided to meet at 7 p.m. to discuss strategy. Several students went to follow faculty members to find the faculty's meeting place.
Bok said last night that the students at the meeting "made very strong representations about how intense the desire was among great numbers of law students to discuss the issues and the procedures." employed by the Ad Board.
Many faculty-still angry and upset by Tuesday's disruption and yesterday afternoon's uncertainity-gradually came to agree with the students that they should not make a decision, one student representative said last night.
The seven students who attended the meeting met before the faculty meeting to discuss their strategy. One student. Justin D. Simon. a first-year Law student, left the meeting immediately after reading a statement questioning the legitimacy of the faculty meeting.
Throughout the entire meeting, a group of more than 60 students gathered outside the locked glass doors on the tenth floor. The students had found the meeting by tailing a faculty member.
As Law professors made their late arrivals, walking through the group, the students discussed possible responses to a faculty decision on the cases. But after hearing that the faculty would not make any decision, the group shifted its discussion to how it could convince the students and the faculty to drop the cases altogether.
Gregory K. Pilkington, a second-year Law student who was suspended for the rest of the year by the Ad Board. was with the group all day.