Mass Gathering Votes for Strike Against U. S. Invasion of Cambodia
A mass meeting of more than 2700 members of the Harvard community last night voted to call a University strike on the following demands:
That the United States government "unilaterally and immediately withdraw all forces from Southeast Asia."
That the U. S. end "its systematic oppression of political dissidents, and release all political prisoners," including Bobby Seale and other members of the Black Panther Party.
That the "universities immediately end defense research. ROTC, counter-insurgency research, and all other such programs."
A coalition of anti-war groups and other Harvard organizations-ranging from the November Action Committee to the Young Democrats-had called the meeting to decide whether Harvard would join the growing movement to shut down the nation's universities to protest President Nixon's escalation of the war.
The meeting's co-chairmen-Carol R. Sternhell '71, managing editor of the CRIMSON, and Charles G. Gross '57, lecturer in Psychology-ran the meeting from Sanders Theatre, but overflow crowds also filled Memorial Hall and Lowell Lecture Hall. All three rooms were linked by sound equipment. The chairmen generally succeeded in keeping the heated meeting in order.
The meeting also voted to endorse a Boston-wide request to use Harvard Stadium at 4 p. m. Friday to discuss a city strike.
Although the anti-war coalition had presented a proposal calling for the election of a 15-member strike steering committee, at 11:30 p. m. too few people had remained in Sanders to vote on this suggestion. The strike coalition will consider the selection of a representative steering committee in the near future, especially the issue of how many women and Harvard employees should serve on the committee.
The most fiercely contested vote came on the demand that the universities immediately end ROTC, defense and counter-insurgency research, "and all other such programs."
Mare J. Roberts, assistant professor of Economics, argued against this demand, stating that students should use the strike to try to persuade people in the general community to fight against the war. He said that this demand reflected "a kind of youthful romanticism when we believe that the university is the central battie ground-what matters is Cambodia."
Roberts added that it is "important to raise issues about university research." but that "the time has come for those of us who want to go out into the community" to do so.
Hilary W. Putnam. professor of Philosophy, said that part of the strike should be directed against programs like ROTC and the Center for International Affairs in order "to concentrate on the class nature of the University."
Putnam stated, "We can't win by allying with Harvard deans" who "servethe class" that has committed aggression in Southeast Asia and oppressed blacks. He added that students should make "imperialism and racism" the main issues, and that a "phony" University-wide strike "would lead to defeat."
Two NAC spokesmen-David C. Plotke '71 and Dean Sheppard '71-supported Putnam's argument in favor of the demand calling for an end to university activities which they called instrumental to the war effort.
Plotke said that "We must make the connection between what's happening in Southeast Asia and in Shannon Hall, the OG AND CP, [Office of Graduate and Career Planning]. and the CFIA." He said that the universities' "recruitment and training" of junior officers for Vietnam was an important part of the war effort.
The issue passed on the slimmest margin of the night: 1770 students supported the demand while 900 voted against it.
The meeting voted to allow two unscheduled speakers to participate: Dean May and Douglas F. Miranda of the Black Panther Party. May read a statement written by the student members of the Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life recommending that students who wish to be free to act against the escalation of the war be permitted "to defer their academic obligations until the Fall."
Speaking for himself. May added that the "University had been wounded last year" and that he was "concerned that we may rip those wounds open again."
Miranda spoke on behalf of the strikers' second demand, which calls for the end of the "systematic oppression of political dissidents." He told the meeting that "the outside world is in a state of revolution" and that it was ready "to assassinate the first public enemy of the world: the U. S. government."
Citing the plight of blacks in America and the recent deaths at Kent State University in Ohio, Miranda denounced what he called "the frivolous attitude of the meeting." He added, however, that he believed the political consciousness of white students was catching up with that of "Niggers."
Mrs. Elizabeth E. Butterfield, assistant registrar of Harvard College and the CSAS, spoke vehemently in favor of the strike, stating that "The war can end only when the people of Middle America leave their desks" and stop "business as usual." She called for the shutting-down of "all business at Harvard: every building should be closed and every office should not function." Mrs. Butterfield asked that University employees and workers be represented in the strike statement.
After the meeting broke up. some SDS members led a march to Shannon Hall (ROTC headquarters) on Divinity Avenue. By 12:30 a. m. 500 persons had gathered there. Some members of the crowd urged that students trash or burn the building, but a clear majority were opposed to such action. Two windows were broken.
The group then began marching to President Pusey's home on Quincy Street, but found that the gates around his home were locked and that University police were standing inside. The crowd began dispersing around 1:15.
SDS has called a meeting for 7:30 p. m. tonight at Lowell Lecture Hall "to discuss militant action against ROTC," and Harvard's alleged "racist" hiring practices, and today's trial of James Kilbreth '69 and John C. Berg.
NAC is holding meetings today in all the Houses to discuss the strike, with most of the meetings being held at 1:30 p. m. NAC has also called for strikers to gather at 10 a. m. today at University Hall for picketing.