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STUDENT VOICE IN COURSE PLANNING

The Mail

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

In its defense of Professor Breuning's right to give Planning 11-3b as he saw fit, the CRIMSON, in its editorial of February 10, 1969, is guilty of the same superficial analysis of the issues as those who advocate efficient riot control as a top national priority. At least one of the objections to professor Breuning's course, and the emphasis on riot control in general, is that they ignore the more fundamental problem of the elimination of the conditions which impel people to riot and to violate the basic political rights of others. Similarly, the CRIMSON's condemnation of Afro's promise to cancel Planning 11-3b by force if necessary, totally disregards the conditions which lead some students at Harvard to consider the prospect of forceful violation of the academic rights of other students and faculty. Far from recognizing that force tactics might be a response not simply to a few outrageous cases, but rather to the general policy whereby faculty members select courses, instructors, and points of view, without the representation of student opinion, the CRIMSON endorses" this general policy, arguing that "the few bad courses" which result do not justify that dangerous precedent of changing it. I suggest that just as rioters cannot be condemned with complete justification so long as their interests find no adequate voice of representation in he political system, the use of force by Harvard students to suppress course offerings cannot be justifiably condemned by the CRIMSON, so long as students have no representation in the selection of courses, instructors, and points of view.

Obviously, the creation of institutions representing students in decisions on these matters would serve a greater purposes than justifying the condemnation of those who choose to suppress course offerings by force. First, student representation in early stages of course selection would make it unlikely that a course so out of tune with students interest as Planning 11-3b would ever get so far as a first meeting. Second, such institutions would inhibit the tendency to see course offerings as imposed by an alien body and justifiably obstructed by force. Third, and most important, the limited resources of the University would be marshalled to serve the intellectual interest of students as well as faculty. Give the highly-touted diversity of the Harvard student body, there is no reason to fear that by fulfilling this responsibility to respect and nurture the intellectual interests of its students, Harvard would be obliged to neglect its additional responsibility to protect its faculty from political harassment in those academic matters which are not also political.

In light of these substantive considerations, it would be highly unfortunate if the peaceful settlement of the Planning 11-3b dispute were to divert attention from the more serious and fundamental issue of student power. A. Richard Feldman '70

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