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WASHINGTON, Oct. 7--U.S. Attorney General Nicholas DeB. Katzenbach warned this evening that student demonstrations on the campus may damage the force of civil rights protests if they become instruments of coercion rather than persuasion.
Speaking to more than 1400 college presidents and administrators at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education, Katzenbach said that student grievances, "however deeply felt, are so pallid by comparison with those of the Negro that to demonstrate over them can be to dilute and debase the moral significance of demonstrations for civil rights."
Katzenbach praised the committment and concern of students protesting what he called "deadening conformity," but he suggested that student rebels often "dissipate the insight and the energy which ought better to be devoted to opposing" specific wrongs and problems.
He sighted as "valid concerns" -- in addition to civil rights -- a shortage of able instructors, absence of attention to the individual's role in the university, and "passivity that can permit mass-produced forms to mold our higher tastes."
"But at the point that it becomes coercive -- when students lie down on the tracks to block a troop train -- protest changes from essential ingredients to something alien to the liberal tradition," he said.
The Attorney General's speech served as a focal point for the conference, which was for the first time devoted entirely to the subject of "The Student in Higher Education." Ten panel discussions focused attention on topics ranging from the student's academic freedom to his role in educational policy planning.
In the afternoon, an overflow crowd of college officials, heard a panel including two University members, Clark Byse, professor of Law, and Dennis Shaul a third year student at the Law School discuss the student's legal rights.
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