News

Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line

News

At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions

News

Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists

News

‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam

News

‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6

91 OBU Members Leave Building After Injunction

By Scott W. Jacobs

Ninety-one members of the Organization for Black Unity (OBU), arms linked and chanting "Black, black power to the African people," filed slowly out of University Hall yesterday after occupying the building for nearly five hours.

The demonstrators walked out under the glare of television flood lights at 4:45 p.m.- two hours after a Cambridge court issued an injunction against the students and three hours after Dean May temporarily suspended all students involved in the demonstration.

The brief occupation followed a similar occupation of the Faculty club for three hours yesterday morning and an earlier demonstration at the Gund Hall construction sue on Quincy Street.

Yesterday was the second time in a week that OBU has moved into University Hall to dramatize its demands for a 20 per cent quota of non-white workers on all Harvard construction projects and equal pay for painters helpers.

Noon Entry

The black students numbering between 50 and 70, broke into a basement door of University Hall shortly afternoon.

All doors to the building had been locked before they arrived and University police had been stationed inside to keep demonstrators out. After trying unsuccessfully to break the window of the door with a chain, one of the students climbed onto a railing and clutching one of the Ivy vines on the side of the hall kicked the window open.

The demonstrators pushed past five University policemen who tried to block their way and filtered upstairs into the offices of the deans.

Dean May was at a class at the time. He had, however, called five Faculty members at 10 a.m. asking them to come to University Hall at noon in the event of a take-over.

According to Edward T. Wilcox, director of the program of General Education, the students informed the building personnel of the takeover and said they were free to stay or go as they pleased. No deans were physically removed from the building and there was no damage to Dean May's office.

May Reads Statement

Dean May appeared inside University Hall at 1:45 p.m. to read a statement to the demonstrators warning them of their suspension and the injunction.

"The University wishes, insofar as it can to handle this demonstration as a purely internal University matter. At the same time, we cannot accept the continuation of this or any other obstructive demonstration." he said.

The temporary suspension named five students specifically Mark D. Smith '72, Lesley F. Griffin '70, Roderick J. Harrison '72, Bruce L. Smith, a graduate student, and Bennie Lee Carter-" and all other students participating in this obstruction."

May said last night he did not know what form the temporary suspensions would take. He is now compiling a more complete list of students involved in the take-over.

The Subcommittee of Six-a disciplinary body of the Committee of Fifteen-will meet at 9 a.m. today to clarify the meaning of the temporary suspensions.

Novel Discipline

May's action yesterday was the first time the University invoked temporary discipline on University students. Dean Ford last month left the form of punishment up to the subcommittee.

The subcommittee could forbid the students involved to take exams, revoke their bursars cards or conceivably require them to vacate their University rooms.

It appeared unlikely last night that the subcommittee would invoke harsh penalties, particularly since Christmas vacation begins next week. But subcommittee members declined to speculate about what steps they might take today.

In any case, the temporary suspensions will be in effect only until regular disciplinary hearings on yesterday's actions are finished. Discipline proceedings must begin within seven days of any alleged violation.

Phillip N. Lee, a third-year law student and spokesman for OBU, called last night for a meeting with Cox and L. Card Wiggins, administrative vice president of the University, at 2 p.m. today to negotiate the OBU demands with mediators from the Massachusetts Council for Discrimination.

At a press conference last night, Cox said he had not heard of Lee's request for a meeting He added "I assume if an official state agency asked us to go, we would go."

Commenting on the breakdown in negotiations with OBU Wednesday, Cox said "We had agreed to binding arbitration (on the painters' helpers issue). I think OBU has now rejected this."

Cox also expressed "disappointment" at yesterday's OBU action and reiterated the University's willingness to hire a percentage of non-white workers equal to the 9.3 per cent non-white population in Boston and Cambridge.

The day of protest began at 8 a.m. yesterday morning when about 100 black students marched through the Yard to the construction site for Gund Hall, which will be the location of the new offices of the School of Design.

The students entered the construction site, locked the gates and told arriving workmen to leave. The men left peacefully after checking with the construction foreman.

About 9 a.m., a group of 60 students raced down Quincy Street and entered the Faculty club through a back door. A sprinkling of Faculty members eating breakfast, 15 club employees, and eight guests were asked to leave.

"They weren't rude, they were just to the point." Richard J. Silveria, assistant manager of the club, said.

Roused from Bed

One of the guests-Hans D. Klingemann, a professor at the University of Cologne-was roused from bed by the students. After a brief bilingual conversation with the students, Klingemann left, telling reporters the students were "very polite."

At 11:15 a.m. Smith, spokesman for OBU and one of the students named in May's suspension statement, emerged from the building to read a statement to the press.

"OBU has moved from the Gund Hall construction site to occupy the Faculty Dining Club, a place where Harvard Faculty members relax in leisure and comfort and dine-in elegance ignoring the fact that black people are suffering at the hands of Harvard's racist policies," he said.

Thirty minutes later, the students left through the back entrance of the club, many covering their faces with scarfs and coats, and rushed across the Yard to University Hall.

Secretaries left the building as soon as the students arrived. Although chains were strung on all doors, the outer lobbies of University Hall were open throughout the day.

Wilcox, Dean Watson, Samuel H. Beer. professor of Government, and a few other professors and administrators remained locked in Dean May's office with the demonstrators.

Through the afternoon, the demonstrators sang, played cards, and talked informally with Faculty members in the building. A few students played conga drums.

The Administration obtained the temporary restraining order at 3 p.m. after a 45-minute hearing before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Thomas Spring.

The order named six members of OBU and Harvard Afro Griflin. Phillip N Lee, Gregory K. Pilkington, teach fellow in General Education, Edward Sanders-Bey '72. Harrison, and Smith. It applied to all other persons in University Hall as well.

The restraining order, which went into effect immediately and will be in effect until a hearing next Tuesday, bars occupation of University Hall, the Gund Hall construction site, the Faculty Club, or any other Harvard building. In addition, it enjoins "inciting, promoting or participating in any riot or tumultuous assembly, or making any loud and excessive noise that interferes with the conduct of normal activities on Harvard's premises."

After May warned the demonstrators at 2 p.m. that the injunction was being sought, the black students held a short meeting to decide whether to stay.

Although most demonstrators were willing to risk arrest for trespassing, they agreed to follow the injunction after it was issued to avoid jail sentences for contempt of court.

The jail sentences-which are often for 30 days-would have put most of the OBU members in jail at a time when they have vowed to escalate their protest.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags