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Mrs. Green's Dilemma

Brass Tacks

By Thomas P. Southwick

PRESIDENT PUSEY listened to a couple of sharp lectures from members of Congress last Thursday when he testified before the special House subcommittee of the Committee of Labor and Education. But even the toughest lectures he got were only a small indication of the real mood in the nation's highest legislative body. Congress is angry and it is very likely that some form of what Rep. Edith Green (D-Ore.) calls "overkill" legislation will pass, at least in the House.

The problem Mrs. Green's education subcommittee now faces is how to meet the overwhelming Congressional pressure to "crack down" on student disorders, without damaging the massive system of federal aid to education her committee has helped to enact in the last two decades.

The education subcommittee represents some of the most liberal sentiment in Congress. Mrs. Green, 59, was supporter of Adlai Stevenson for President and later ran Robert Kennedy's unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign in Oregon. Most of the other members of the committee are of a similar bent. The aim of the hearings was largely to amass evidence that colleges would be best left alone to handle campus disorders. Only Rep. William Scherle (R-Iowa) gave a foretaste of the real mood of the House when he told Pusey that unless "college administrators have the guts to adopt a get-tough policy, Congress will have to act."

By Congressional action, Scherle meant the type of bill proposed by Rep. William H. Harsha (R-O.). That bill, introduced on April 15, recommends a cut-off of federal funds to colleges which "fail to take corrective measures within a reasonable time" after experiencing campus disorders. The determination of just what those corrective measures are is left largely up to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

But the bill does set up some guidelines for the Secretary. It calls for the cut-off of funds when there is a "substantial disruption of the administration" or if "students, teachers, or officials are prevented from pursuing their studies or duties." The bill says that the Secretary can resume granting funds when:

* The disorders have terminated;

* The institution has adopted a plan which provides reasonable assurance that such disorders will not recur;

* The institution has assured the Secretary that it will in good faith prosecute those persons involved in violation of any law arising out of such disorder, riot, seizure, or violent demonstration.

Pusey's testimony was discouraging for liberals hoping to head off repressive legislation. He and other administrators who testified were unable to promise anything better than a hope that they will be able to deal with future disorders. Jacques Barzun of Columbia actually told the subcommittee: "Colleges have shown that they can't deal with the crisis."

WITH THE mounting pressure of Congressmen like Scherle and the disappointing situation portrayed by Pusey and Barzun, Mrs. Green has predicted that some form of legislation in "inevitable."

Now she and her committee must decide what type of bill they will recommend to the House. If they do recommend a bill--probably one along the lines of Mrs. Green's proposal for a Federal Arbitration Board for the colleges--it will either be defeated or changed beyond recognition on the hostile House floor. If on the other hand the committee decides not to propose any bill at all it will be in the defensive position of having to fight any measures like Harsha's on the floor. These measures will very likely be introduced as riders on the appropriations bills due before the House in the next few months.

In a defensive fight, the liberals will have certain tactical advantages. Parliamentary rules are on the side of the opposition in the House. But the adoption of a defensive fight will put the committee in the embarrassing political posiiton of having proposed nothing to curb the disorders. Mrs. Green will probably introduce a bill of her own making, and hope that any of the "overkill" amendments tagged on to it will be defeated in the Senate.

Last year Mrs. Green lost such a battle with her proposed extension of student loans. The House voted overwhelmingly for the amendment of Rep. Louis Wyman (R-N.H.) that Federal funds should automatically be cut off to students refusing to obey a "lawful regulation or order of the college ... tribution to the disruption of the university." The conference report of the House and Senate made any cut-off hinge on a conviction in court.

The 1968 measures which were enacted into law have been ignored by the Administration, largely because Secretary of HEW Robert Finch feels that Federal interference is what college administrators need the least. But the laws remain on the books, and under a more repressive Secretary would narrow the options of college administrators, forcing hasty overreactions.

MRS. GREEN shares Finch's belief that federal interference will only further tie the hands of college administrators trying to deal with disorder. She expressed the opinion that SDS will interpret measures like Harsha's as a challenge to prolong confrontations.

It is clear to those involved in college life that Mrs. Green's arguments are telling. However, it is also clear that many Congressmen, pressured by the folks back home to "crack down on long-haired rebels," will choose to ignore Mrs. Green and bend with the political winds.

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