A Faculty Divided
The Strike as History
Political wrangling reached its peak at Harvard in 1969. The noisiest and best-publicized conflicts took place among Harvard students, in the form of infighting between the different factions of SDS, or among moderate and radical students. But the events of that spring proved the Faculty to be every bit as capable of sustained politicking as the students who marched into University Hall. Most Faculty members stepped into politics gingerly, resisting the intrusion of political issues into their ordered world of research and teaching. But the explosion of student activism in April forced most Faculty to take sides, and to take steps they thought best for the preservation of the University.
Michael L. Walzer, professor of Government, says that when he first encountered Harvard as a graduate student in the '50s it was a serene place: he saw no widespread student dissatisfaction, but rather a "world of younger faculty and graduate students, politically and intellectually very exciting." With the advent of the mid-'60s, however, that serenity disappeared. "That world hadn't changed." Walzer recalls. "What had changed was the war and general politicization of life that flooded into the University and ran up against a fairly rigid and not terribly sensitive administrative structure."
In April, the two worlds finally collided. Students occupied University Hall, and the next morning 400 policemen marched in, clubs swinging. The two events rocked the campus, and immediately divided many Faculty members into two camps, tagged the liberal and conservative caucuses.
[Fourth in a series.]