Dow's Return

WITH the approach of another round of recruiting interviews by the Dow Chemical Corporation, it is clear that little ground has been gained toward alleviating the conflicts and pressures which produced last Fall's bitter confrontation. The single most constructive result of the Mallinckrodt demonstration was the creation of the Student-Faculty Advisory Council. Here was a Committee which could bridge the apparent gaps between students, Faculty, and the administration, and prevent a recurrence of this unhappy chapter in Harvard's history.

Yet the sole formulation to come out of the Council regarding such protests--a request that this visit from Dow be postponed--was rejected by the Faculty last week. In its concern for asserting the principle of free recruitment, the Faculty took action which may precipitate another battle between the College and many of those students who are agonized by the war in Vietnam.

Recognizing the possibility of such a confrontation, Deans Ford and Glimp have stated that a demonstration will be considered "disorderly" or "unacceptable" not only if it physically obstructs the recruiter (or students who are trying to see him) but also if it "inhibits his movement." Glimp defined "inhibition" as putting the man in a position where he would have to do something he does not want to do--such as step on a person or push a person--in order to move freely. While this definition is certainly vague and does not account for all conceivable forms of Dow protest, the Deans are to be congratulated for clarifying which forms of demonstrations are in violation of University regulations. The absence of such rules was among the worst aspects of the Dow and McNamara incidents.

The Deans' refusal to delineate what punishments will be meted out for what offenses, however, constitutes a serious error in judgment. Exercising misguided paternalism, they argue that any formulation regarding punishments will be seen by students as threatening. The opposite is true. Under the Deans' plan, students will once again be forced to second-guess the administration over the consequences of their acts. But the absence of a clear-cut definition of punishments turns the usually sober act of civil disobedience into an undignified gamble. Students have a right to know what punishment they must weigh against the dictates of their conscience.

The Deans indicate that they want to keep a flexible policy for dealing with demonstrators. But what the Deans see as a flexible policy is, to students, merely an opportunity for repeating the arbitrary decisions which followed last Fall's incident.


In considering the advisability of participating in a further protest, students should be mindful of the potential costs. Many observers believe that severance for Dow protesters was narrowly averted last Fall and that it would be unavoidable in the event of a recurrence. The loss through severance of students whose consciences lead them to protest Dow's appearance here would be tragic to the Harvard community, especially considering the ease with which the Faculty could have avoided a return engagement. Students should carefully weigh these costs against what they consider the benefits of a disruptive protest at this time.

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