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THIS AFTERNOON the Faculty will be asked to consider two resolutions relating to the war in Vietnam. The Faculty should pass both resolutions and give its support to efforts at ending an intolerable war.
The most serious objection to approval of the resolutions concerns the propriety of the Faculty's voting on political motions. Both resolutions, of course, are avowedly political. One asks that the Faculty affirm "its support of the October 15 day of protest against the War in Vietnam"- the so called Vietnam Moratorium: the other requests that the Faculty formally call for "the immediate withdrawal of U. S. troops" as the most reasonable way to end the Vietnam conflict.
Most people would agree that under normal circumstances it would be undesirable for the Faculty, as a body of scholars gathered for the purpose of teaching, to express its opinion on political matters which have no direct relation to its academic functions. But these are not normal circumstances, and normal procedures and inhibitions are not appropriate.
The Vietnam war, with its legacy of a decade of senseless death and suffering, has created a unique situation, one in which conscience demands that individuals and groups use every possible opportunity to press for its immediate cessation. Because the circumstances are unique, the Faculty's decision to consider political questions today would not set a precedent for future votes on more mundane issues. But because the war is so abhorrent, the Faculty cannot fail to consider these two resolutions in formal session.
Though the substance of the resolutions will not satisfy all members of the Faculty, the motions should be acceptable to the great majority. Some Faculty members fear that a vote supporting the Moratorium would trespass on the right of students who want to attend classes. But the resolution now before the Faculty would do no such thing. No Faculty member would be committed by his vote to cancelling his class. On the other hand, the Faculty would have given its support to a peaceful demonstration of disgust at current government policies on the war. Whether or not the resolution passes, it is the duty of Faculty members who oppose the war to cancel classes on October 15. The Moratorium can be effective in mobilizing public pressure only if huge numbers of people observe it. Instructors can plan additional evening or Saturday classes with those who oppose taking the day off.
THE RESOLUTION asking that the U. S. withdraw its troops poses greater problem than the Moratorium resolution; making a tactical recommendation on how to end the war is a more difficult and complex question than making a statement of opposition in principle to the conflict. Nevertheless, it should be plain that unilateral withdrawal is no longer a radical peace proposal and has become instead the only reasonable way to end the war quickly. All the theories which informed our intervention- "communist aggression," "the domino theory" and "containment"- have been officially abandoned, but the killing continues. Our "prestige" and our Presidents' sense of history do not justify the loss of hundreds of lives each week, and the support of a corrupt and repressive Saigon regime.
It is quite likely that neither resolution will have any effect on the U. S. policy in Vietnam, even if passed unanimously. The Nixon administration has heard peace suggestions from many prestigious quarters and has been no more responsive than its predecessor. The resolution on the Vietnam Moratorium, if approved, cannot be any more influential than the Moratorium itself, and the Moratorium has crucial flaws. Its platform has been poorly-defined, its turnout will be difficult to estimate, and it can be easily dismissed or ignored by the administration.
But it is the fall of 1969, and there are not many forms of non-violent protest left. The Faculty can't afford to let these slip by.
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