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RACISM AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM

The Mail

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

The statement by 113 Harvard Faculty members, purportedly on behalf of academic freedom, is disturbing. In my opinion, the professors evidence a certain near-sightedness on some important questions.

The statement presumes that students violate "academic freedom" by demanding a voice in the selection and content of courses. Students are, however, members of the academic community. As universities persist in offering courses which are irrelevant, offensive and even intolerable, students justly will be stepping up their demands for change and for meaningful student participation to guarantee implementation of necessary change. Those who argue for Faculty hierarchical; prerogatives merely are defending the status quo, not academic freedom.

The closely related and more important aspect of this issue is one the professors somehow neglected to mention -- racism.

Perhaps the professors' difficulties in grasping the scope and depth of this monstrous injustice stem in part from their teaching and working in a 99 per cent white university -- an elite, businessman-banker-controlled university, at that. Nonetheless, the realities of American society are such that a course on George Wallace's favorite theme -- "An End to Urban Violence" -- might just provoke some sharply negative responses from the intended victims!

Moreover, the Faculty members would do well to not that racism, flourishing as it does in even (especially?) the most honored places, clearly is the major underlying threat in our country to civil liberties and academic freedom. The Eastlands and Thurmonds, the bigoted and brutal police departments, the Reagans and Hayakawas constitute the real threats to cherished freedoms. What responsibilities do the professors and President Pusey in particular (whose own record against McCarthyism was far less than admirable) acknowledge in defeating these reactionary forces?

Because some among the 113 professors have contributed to other causes--such as ending the brutal war in Vietnam, it is all the more regrettable that these faculty members should join the attack on the black students. The stark reality of racism in our country requires a fundamentally different approach to questions of this kind. Arnold Lockshin   Lecturer in Biology

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