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Charges

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

HARVARD SHOULD NOT be surprised by the failure of its efforts to get criminal charges dropped against those students who sat in last week at University Hall. Neither Judge Edward M. Viola nor the people of Cambridge take kindly to seeing Harvard use outside police as a kind of private army, to do the University's rather than the community's bidding.

Even if the arrested students should eventually be acquitted, that will give Harvard no excuse to discipline them by its own processes. The demonstrators were subjected to police action, including the threat or actuality of brutal action, thrown in jail, and obligated at least to seek legal help. In short, Harvard placed them on the in-basket of the judicial process, under circumstances where the University's power to extricate students was both practically and logically compromised.

The idea of an internal system of University justice assumes that students will not be subjected to the manifold risks of the outside system. There are, perhaps, arguments for and against the whole idea of insulating Harvard from outside justice. But no good argument can be made for subjecting a student to the threat of criminal prosecution, forcing him to fight it as best he can, and then, should he escape, confronting him with Harvard's own punitive action. The principle of double jeopardy may not legally apply here, but the common sense behind that principle remains compelling. When President Pusey called in the police Thursday morning, he abdicated his and therefore the University's authority, as Judge Viola has clearly demonstrated. Whatever else it does, Harvard cannot now impose its own discipline on the arrested students. This is the only fair conclusion for the Faculty, the Corporation, and the so-called Committee of Fifteen to reach.

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