Paranoia Afflicts The Faculty
The mood at Tuesday's Faculty meeting can only be described as paranoid.
Faculty members fearful of any change in the present system of discipline easily quashed a set of innocuous reforms in the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities and approved instead the CRR as it is presently constituted.
Visions of students clambering into University Hall for another occupation seemed to shimmer in front of much of the Faculty, for they seemed impervious to even the mildest calls for reform in the disciplinary process, intent instead upon keeping their defenses strong in the face of a largely imagined threat.
When Samuel H. Beer, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, summarized the reigning fears, observers could almost hear the wild-eyed activists chanting outside the gates, ready to destroy the University.
"We have been subjected to some terrible blows and we haven't defended ourselves well," Beer warned the Faculty. He went on to say that the reform amendments, introduced by William Paul, McKay Professor of Applied Physics, would "weaken our defenses."
Although Faculty discussion this Fall about the controversial CRR was initially sparked by liberal Faculty members interested in reform, the three discussion sessions also gave their more conservative counterparts a chance to voice fears about purported threats to academic freedom.
"The rights of all of us to teach and do research are in jeopardy," James Q. Wilson, professor of Government, told a December Faculty meeting. "Some of our former colleagues cannot even give a public lecture."
The Faculty upended all six of Paul's CRR reform proposals by four-to-one majorities, and endorsed instead three stand-pat amendments by similarly lopsided margins.
The conservative proposals, drawn up by the Faculty Council, endorsed the present version of the CRR and gave the Committee a blank check to "improve" its procedures as it saw fit.
The Faculty, however, did toss one bone to the reformers. The meeting unanimously approved a motion Paul introduced that called for an outside re-examination of the role of the Commission on Inquiry, which is supposed to act as an ombudsman for complaints brought by members of the community.
Some Faculty members were undoubtedly swayed when the motion was endorsed by James S. Ackerman, professor of Fine Arts and present chairman of the Commission.
Although this victory will provide some solace to the reformers, the convincing defeats on the CRR motions indicated emphatically that the reigning fears that can be traced to the 1969 upheaval have not yet subsided.