Students Plan to Picket Controversial Law Class
A controversial Law School civil rights course will be greeted with "non confrontational picketing" when it gets underway this week. The picketing is part of an effort by a coalition of minority students to promote a scheduled boycott of the course.
A spokesman for the Third World Coalition, which has called the boycott to protest what it sees as inadequate representation of minorities on the Law Faculty, predicted yesterday that no more than 20 students and no minorities would attend the class.
"To my knowledge, not a single minority is still enrolled in that course or has the intention of taking the course," Ibrahim Gassama, the spokesman, said.
Two school officials, however including Dean James I. Vorenberg '49, said yesterday they expect almost all the 59 students who initially signed up for the class to take it.
Gassama said coalition members intend to picket the 8 30 a.m. course "as long as necessary," explaining that the duration of the boycott hinges "on the reaction of the Faculty" to it once it begins. The course begins Wednesday.
But Vorenberg, asked it the Law Faculty might take up the issue if the boycott persisted with any success, said. "No further action is contemplated."
Referring to a recent vote by the faculty that broadly endorsed efforts to diversity itself, Vorenberg said. "The Faculty reaffirmed its strong commitment to affirmative action My understanding is that that's what the Third World Coalition says the issue's about."
And Mary D. Upton, dean of students, dismissed the concept of ongoing picketing until the faculty acts. "I don't understand what they're saying we can't hire minorities between Wednesday and Friday," she said.
The coalition has sponsored the boycott because it feels the course--taught by two visiting professors, both of whom are white--should have been used as an opportunity to bring another full time minority professor to the school.
The school's faculty of 66 tenured professors currently includes one minority.
The choice of the picketing tactic was revealed in late December in coalition sponsored posters that appeared around the school.
The posters which carry a cartoon depicting white Law School professors barricading the door to the school to bar minority faculty, also announced an open forum Wednesday at which coalition spokesmen will repeat their call for more minority professors.
Gassama said the coalition decided to stage the picket outside Pound Hall, where the course will be taught, after deciding against disrupting the class. "We considered it, but we are taking measured responses," he explained.
Vorenberg and Uptown both stressed that the school has no intention of hindering the picketers. "As long as it's done in a form that is simply communicating a point of view, it's in the finest tradition of First Amendment communication," said Vorenberg.
Upton, however, said picketing "absolutely must be outside the building," adding. "There's a lot of traffic going on within Pound Hall We can't have classes obstructed."
Gassama predicted that more than a dozen and possibly more than 30 students would picket Wednesday morning.