Of the many surprises of the last 19 days, none has been more unexpected than the Faculty's spectacular display of unity under the pressure of events.
In five crucial votes over the course of two weeks--on the original resolution establishing the new Faculty Committee, on election procedures for the Committee of 15, on the Wilson Report, on ROTC, on Black Studies--the Faculty spoke four times with a nearly unanimous voice.
Only in its consideration of the Afro proposal did the Faculty split, and even then, it made its decision by a margin of nearly 100 votes.
But the Faculty's unanimity was not all it appeared to be. Behind tranquil debates in the plushly upholstered Loeb Drama Center lay strongly held political differences and hectic Faculty efforts at reconciling groups which did not agree on how to respond to the crisis.
Two groups in particular posed the greatest threat to Faculty cooperation, but at the same time worked hardest to prevent a disastrous splintering of the Faculty. Widely termed the conservative and liberal caucuses, these two coalitions of like-mined Faculty members functioned throughout the crisis like combinations of political parties and traditional Faculty committees: sometimes campaigning actively among independent Faculty members in support of a position, at other times simply discussing the issues and feeding resolutions onto the meeting floor.
Since together the caucuses never represented more than one-third of the Faculty, they could never determine together or separately the outcome of any votes. But in at least one instance--the formulation of election procedures for the Committee of 15-- negotiations between the two caucuses prior to the Faculty vote proved crucial to the outcome.
The political differences between the two groups were real and dangerous. "They exhibit," muses Stanley Hoffmann, professor of Government and de facto leader of the liberals, "almost all the characteristics of the eternal left and the perpetual right."
But like all political coalitions, their differing politics stem at least in part from the differing temperaments of their members and their different histories.
Neither Faculty caucus took formal votes, and neither had elected leaders. But a leadership corps seemed to emerge in each case: among the liberals, Hoffmann and Michael L. Walzer, associate professor of Government; and for the conservatives, John T. Dunlop, Wells Professor of Political Economy; George B. Kistiakowsky, Abbot and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry; Rob- ert G. McCloskey, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History and Government; and Ernest R. May, professor of History.
It is difficult to make any simple statement of the political bias of either of the two groups. "What distinguished the two groups, at least as much as their place on the political spectrum," says Paul M. Doty, Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry and a participant in the activities of both at various times, "was simply the polarization about two ways of getting thing done."
The conservative group consists almost entirely of senior Faculty members who share, as Doty puts it, "a sense of how to get things done" using traditional institutional mechanisms.
Consistent with its bias toward using traditional channels, the group is secretive in effect, if not in intention. Its members, according to Doty, share a sense that "one doesn't broadcast too much until one has a consensus developed."
During the crisis the conservative caucus usually met off-campus at the house of one of its members. Even leaders of the liberal caucus often did not know exactly where their conservative counterparts were gathering. While conservatives sometimes attended liberal meetings, liberals never visited the other caucus. According to McCloskey, his caucus met in at least 12 different Faculty homes during the crisis.
Certain other factors have contributed to the apparent isolation of the conservative group. First, it is relatively small in number. Average meetings have been attended by about two dozen professors, while a total of 45 to 50, by McCloskey's estimate, have been associated with the caucus at one time or another.
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