As the women at the Boston Women's Center at 888 Memorial Drive spent yesterday preparing to resist a possible bust by Cambridge police, two representatives of the women's group met unofficially with Mary I. Bunting, President of Radcliffe, to discuss the three demands issued last Sunday.
"I'm not a bit optimistic about negotiations with any group taking over a building by force," Bunting said last night. "I don't think Harvard wants to negotiate with anyone who has taken over the building. I don't think the situation is very optimistic. The last thing Harvard wants is a bust, but there don't seem to be many other options."
Bunting stressed that she was not at the meeting as a representative of Harvard. "I had simply been invited by them to discuss the demands and was interested in seeing what they really wanted," she added.
Last night, Harvard representatives and an attorney for the women's group held a closed, informal discussion, according to one of the participants in the discussion.
However, Archibald Cox '34, University crisis manager, firmly denied in a statement released yesterday at 5 p.m. that any official negotiations were taking place. The statement read:
"The University continues to hope that good sense will prevail and the occupants of 888 Memorial Drive withdraw from the building, as ordered by the Superior Court. A number of interested persons, in an effort to help, have discussed possible ways of bringing about this result. Their efforts are appreciated. No one has been authorized to negotiate on behalf of the University and, to the best of my knowledge, no one has."
Informed faculty sources said last night that Cox-who all along has had authority to request a police raid-received a vote of confidence from other high officials to order a bust without further consultation.
The sources hinted that Cox would order the raid within a day.
Two meetings have been held since yesterday with Cox, Charles P. Whitlock, assistant dean of the College, and the House Masters to discuss whether the bust would be advisable.
One House Master, who does not wish to be identified, said that Whitlock had telephoned him last night to ask what he thought student reactions would be to bust at the women's center.
The Master said, "I don't think there will be a bust tonight," adding that "the proceedings will be very cautions."
A tutor in another House confirmed that a call had also been made to the Master of his House concerning student reaction to a bust.
The three demands issued by the
women's group last Sunday are that Harvard:
Build low-income housing on this site according to the Riverside community's demands;
Provide a women's center to serve the needs of Boston-area women; and
Give the women full use of the Memorial Drive Building until it is torn down to build low-cost housing.
Meanwhile, inside the occupied building, the mood was tense as the group of about 60 women prepared for the expected bust-especially at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the rumored police bust seemed most imminent. Meetings were held throughout the morning to discuss tactics to be used against the police.
As the day wore on, tension decreased and the Center's activities proceeded on schedule. Auto mechanics classes and karate classes were held as planned; food was cooked; children were cared for.
Waiting for Godot
Throughout the day a small crowd, waiting for the bust, milled outside the entrance of the Memorial Drive building. The largest number-about 70 people-gathered at 10 a.m. when the police were most expected.
A mailman momentarily became the center of attention when he appeared at 11:15 a.m. with a letter addressed "Women's Liberation Front, 888 Memorial Drive."
Curiosity prevailed and the women nominated a male "secretary" to accept the letter for the group. Apparently the letter was innocuous and was later brought into the building.