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Committee's Criteria


The following excerpt from yesterday's report by the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities includes the Committee's explanation of the criteria it used in deciding how to punish those charged in the November 19 demonstration:

In reaching its disciplinary decisions, one of the considerations weighed most heavily by the Committee was that the demonstration concerned involved the forceful interference with the freedom of movement of an individual. A distinction in degree was drawn between those most actively participating in the forcible confinement of Dean May and those who participated with their immediate presence and support. However, unlike the students charged in last April's seizure of University Hall, some of whom used force against individuals, some of whom were merely present, all of those charged here were involved in concerted activities aimed at the forcible confinement of the Dean of the College.

It is the belief of all members of the Committee that actions which abrogate an individual's personal rights, and especially those which provide a physical threat to his person, cannot be tolerated in any free association like the University if that community is to survive. Regardless of whether injury is inflicted, the use of force or threat of violence introduces an element of fear which makes it impossible for many members of the University to continue their work unhindered. The Committee also feels that an obstructive demonstration, even apart from the element of force or violence, can substantially impede the work of members of the University and contribute to a general atmosphere of intimidation.

Although it is not our place to weigh the historical context of the demonstration in which Dean May was confined, it must be observed that this incident was preceded by other disruptions of various types in the same office, at least one of which might have supported charges of obstruction had anyone chosen to make complaint. Although "obstruction of the normal processes and activities vital to the function of the University" as described in the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities is a broad charge, it is the feeling of the Committee that the elements of continuing harassment and escalation of tactics present in this incident made it an unambiguous "obstruction" in the most serious sense of the word.

The combination of these two elements.

-the forcible confinement of an individual and serious, ongoing obstruction and harassment-makes it impossible for any part of the University so treated to continue to function. Such a threat to any part of the University is an implicit threat to all of it. And, even in cases where such tactics may accelerate a needed change, the entire University pays a great price in the deterioration of the fundamental relationships between its members.

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