The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) held hearing last week for six students charged with violating the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities in the course of a sit-in at Mass Hall last May.
Isabel G. MacCaffrey, chairman of the committee and Kenan Professor of History and Literature, announced at the close of the hearing last Wednesday that the committee would inform the students of its decision by mail within seven days.
In a complaint filed by Stephen S.J. Hall, vice president for Administration, the students are charged with impeding movement in Mass Hall and preventing the normal functioning of the administration.
If the students are found guilty of violating the resolution the committee can impose punishments ranging from an admonition to expulsion from the University.
The six defendants were among 16 students who sat in the reception room of Mass Hall for five hours on May 2, demanding a meeting with President Bok to discuss their proposals for the DuBois Institute.
The students, members of the DuBois Institute Student Coalition (DISC), left the building peacefully at 3 p.m., because, a spokesman said at the time. "We felt our point had been made."
In their defense, the defendants pointed specifically to a section of the resolution that says administrators are responsible for giving "a full and fair hearing to reasoned expression of grievances" and to "consult with those affected by [their] decisions."
The students said they were forced to undertake protest actions because the administration had rebuffed their attempts to act through legitimate channels.
The resolution, however, goes on to say that the failure of an administrator to fulfill his responsibilities "should not be interpreted as justifying any violation of the rights of members of the University."
Carrell J. Morris, McKay Professor of Sanitary Chemistry, who presented Hall's case against the students, charged at the hearings that as a result of the sit-in-the main door of Mass Hall was locked from the inside while a group of policemen and DISC supporters crowded against it outside.
He also charged that the noise of the chanting, singing and drum playing in the reception room prevented normal functioning within the building.
Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, who was in Mass Hall during the demonstration, testified at the hearing that the noise was "clearly audible throughout the first two floors of Mass Hall," and it was "impossible for anyone to function" at the reception desk.
Steiner said that his fear of what the protestors might do, an "indirect effect" of the demonstration, caused him to lock all files in the building, and that several secretaries left Mass Hall around noon because of noise and nervousness.
The defendants said they were never asked to be quiet, and the door to Mass Hall was blocked only because the police chose to lock it.
"We wouldn't have gone only into the reception room if our intention was to disrupt the administration." Peter S. Hogness '76 told the committee.
David W. Price '77 said "We gave no indication of wanting to leave the reception room. We were waiting to see the president."
The defendants said they were never told they were in violation of any University rule, and they would have left the building if they had been given such a warning.
Before the hearing opened last Tuesday the students requested a one week postponement because they were unable to secure legal counsel who could attend last week's hearings.
The committee has the right to judge whether the defendants appearing before it have a right to counsel.
In refusing the request for a postponement MacCaffrey said. "The committee will not deny counsel, but considers that you had sufficient time to secure counsel."
"It is to the advantage of all concerned to continue today," she said.
The six defendants were identified from photos taken during the sit-in by a University photographer, from a photo that appeared in The Crimson on May 2, and from administrators who recognized them during the demonstration.
DISC charged at the hearing that the six were victims of selective prosecution on the basis of race and class.
Four of the defendants are black, although nine of the 16 demonstrators were white, and none of the six seniors involved in the sit-in was prosecuted.
Morris denied the charge, saying that the administration could obtain positive identification of only these six protestors.
The CRR was established in 1970 to handle politically motivated violations of the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities