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Tufts University called in 200 police yesterday to prevent students from obstructing the construction of a dormitory. Both Tufts Afro and the administration have charged the construction company with racial discrimination in hiring.
The university faculty demanded immediate withdrawal of the police at an emergency meeting in the afternoon.
The police, many armed with tear gas guns and shotguns, surrounded the construction site before dawn yesterday at the request of President Burton C. Hallowell. Tufts had obtained a temporary restraining order Wednesday prohibiting black students from shutting down the construction, as they had Wednesday.
The campus was peaceful all day yesterday, and by nightfall the number of police had been greatly reduced.
Afro is demanding that the Volpe Construction Company, contractors for the project, employ 20 per cent minority group workers. About five per cent of the present work force is black or Puerto Rican.
The faculty called upon the administration to halt construction on the dormitory until the demand is met, but the administration rejected the proposal at the same meeting as "infeasible."
"If Tufts breaks the contract by halting construction, it could result in a lawsuit that could cost up to $2 million. We operate on a small margin: that is mostly red." President Hallowell said.
To prevent a violent confrontation between police and students about 200 members of Afro avoided the site yesterday. Later in the morning, Afro and about 500 white supporters voted to boycott classes for two days in support of Afro demands.
A peaceful mill-in is scheduled to be held in the Administration building today.
The Volpe Construction Company is owned by the family of Secretary of Transportation John A. Volpe. The firm could be black-balled from future contracts involving government funds if it is found guilty of non-compliance with regulations governing the hiring of minority group members. A hearing is scheduled for December 22.
"We are bringing every possible legal pressure to bear against the company. Meanwhile there will continue to be adequate provisions taken to insure workers access to the site," President Hallowell stated to the faculty.
Tufts University filed suit Monday against the Volpe Company to determine whether the firm's hiring practices have violated contractual agreements.
The suit could become a precedent for breaking open the construction industry's hiring pattern of minority group members, the administration stated at the meeting.
Wednesday morning, more than 200 students, most of them members of Afro, successfully blocked workers attempting to enter the site. Later that day Tufts sought the restraining order that resulted in the police action yesterday.
Tufts and the Volpe Company share legal responsibility for keeping the construction site open, according to Gordon Deefer, the attorney representing the university.
"If we had done nothing, the Volpe Company could charge protestors with criminal trespass. By taking the initiative in obtaining the restraining order we in?ured that arrested students would face the less serious charge of contempt of court." Deefer said. "Also, we prevented a violent confrontation between workers and students," he added.
Afro stated in a hand-out sheet last night. "The group considers occupation of the campus by police without consulting the student body or faculty to be terrorist action."
The Tufts administration has admitted that the company's hiring practices are illegal and immoral, yet they have decided to favor interests of the company through an injunction against its own students," Charles Yancey, co-chairman of Afro, said.
At a faculty meeting, Afro charged that many of the police had removed their badges, and that some had been stationed in what they termed snipers' positions on the roof-tops of womens' dormitories.
A proposal that the administration hire minority group workers amounting to 20 per cent of the work force and add them to the site was defeated by the faculty. A spokesman for Afro had termed the solution a "cop-out" that would deflect attention from the discriminatory hiring practices of the construction industry.
A vote was passed for adjournment before the faculty could take action on a proposal to suspend classes until police are withdrawn.
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