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Disciplinary Group Emphasized Harrassment, Obstruction of May

By Mitchell S. Fishman

The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities ordered 16 students to leave the University Monday largely because it decided that demonstrators in University Hall November 19 had objectionably harassed Dean May and had physically prevented him from leaving his office.


It is likely that the nine-member disciplinary panel will decide that two subsequent demonstrations in University Hall - in which members of the Organization for Black Unity (OBU) occupied the building and barred May from his offices-were less serious violations of University regulations than was the November demonstration, which involved mostly members of SDS.

Although May also charged the SDS demonstrators with obstructing "the normal processes and activities vital to the function of the University," members of the Committee emphasized yesterday that the "elements of personal confrontation" in the demonstration were the decisive considerations in the Committee's judgment.

"May feared for his personal safety," said one committee member, who asked not to be identified. "He was hassled, harassed, and provoked. It almost amounted to a kind of persecution."

Five other members of the committee yesterday made similar statements or called attention to the panel's formal report, which says the group "weighed most heavily . . . the forceful interferference" with May's freedom of movement.

The Committee, in considering the findings of fact of its three-member hearing panels, also discussed what one member called the "political and philosophical issues" raised by those who participated in the SDS demonstration.

The demonstrators were calling attention to demands that Harvard promote workers now classified as "painters' helpers"-a majority of whom are black-and agree to employ a least 20 per cent "black and third world" workers on its construcion sites.

The Rights Committee "separated" two students from the University and required 14 others to withdraw for periods ranging from six months to more than a year for actions they committee during the demonstration. "Separated" students can return to Harvard only on a majority vote of the Faculty.

Several members of the committee cautioned yesterday against comparing the SDS and OBU demonstrations. "The circumstances are very different," said one. "The moral element in [the blacks'] action was much clearer. The SDS demonstration, if not actual violence against an individual, was just cruel," he said.

Another member said he found the SDS demonstration "even less accept-able" than he might have regarded it because "Dean May is not responsible for hiring and employment."

The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities will follow the same procedure in considering complaints against the black demonstrators that it followed in the cases of the 25 students charged with violations during the November 19 demonstration.

Each student charged will receive an individual hearing into the cireumstances of his case-probably during the first week in January-and committee members yesterday said that each individual's participation, together with his disciplinary record, will be separately evaluated.

Nevertheless, the general circumstances of the OBU demonstrations distinguish them in fact, and perhaps in principle, from the SDS demonstration.

On November 19, more than 100 members of SDS and other students sat-in in May's office-keeping him there for more than an hour-and a group of them forcibly prevented him from leaving by linking their arms and surrounding his desk.

On December 5, about 100 blacks also occupied University Hall, but they entered the building before any University officials-including May-had arrived for work.

Although the group locked and barricaded the building from the inside, May. Archibald Cox professor of Law and L. Gard Wiggins, administrative vice-president of the University, were later allowed to enter for discussions of the blacks' demands. The blacks left the building after reaching a tentative four-point agreement with Cox, who was acting as the University's representative, covering several aspects of the dispute over Harvard's hiring practices.

Again last Thursday, about 90 members of OBU occupied University Hall, and, briefly, the Faculty Club and the Gund Hall construction site on Quincy street-in support of their demands.

Again, May was not in the building at the time, and the blacks did not physically obstruct him when he returned, although they did lock him out of his office. Several other administrators and some Faculty members were allowed to remain in the building throughout. At the Faculty Club, the blacks asked several professors, Club employees, and guests to leave the building, and many did.

Observers reported no incidents of violence against any person or harassment of any University officials during the OBU demonstrations. The Faculty Club's assistant manager told one reporter that the OBU demonstrators "weren't rude, they were just to the point,"

An undetermined number of blacks were "temporarily suspended" by May Thursday afternoon after they refused to leave University Hall.

The Rights Committee-which has not yet formally received any complanints from May in the OBU caseshas not decided how it will regard the two recent demonstrations.

"All the members of the committee," according to its statement Monday, regard actions which abrogate an individual's personal rights, and especially those which provide a physical threat to his person," as intolerable in a University community.

The Committee did not, however, say that "an obstructive demonstration. . . apart from the element of force or violence," was necessarily equally intolerable; its report says only that such a demonstration "can substantially impede the work of members of the University and contribute to a general atmosphere of intimidation."

The committee, therefore, must decide how seriously it regards mere participation in the OBU demonstrations before it can agree on regular discipline for the blacks who occupied University Hall.

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