On a door marked 219 on the second floor of the Jonas Clark building at Clark University is taped a faded italic newspaper headline reading "Clark Won't Change" and next to that a white index card labelled, "Dr. ALAN F. GUMMERSON."
Gummerson is a Marxist economist and his "hassle" at Clark, he says, has been with an Economics department that has three times tried to release him. Each time Gummerson, an assistant professor, has protested the decision, but this time, when tenure is at stake, the department shows no signs of backing down.
"You've just got to struggle against them," Gummerson says. "You just can't say, I'm going to go someplace where I'm wanted, because no one wants you."
The Economics department has said that Gummerson's Marxist concerns are "peripheral" to the "thrust" of the department, but it also cites his teaching and publishing as deficiencies justifying the tenure decision.
One of those who came to Gummerson's support in his latest appeal was Samuel S. Bowles, a Marxist economist who was not granted tenure at Harvard but has found a haven at UMass.
Also enlisted in Gummerson's cause were more than 100 students who called themselves the "Tenure Alan Gummerson" group which sat in first at the Economics department and then for ten days at the president's office. Gummerson says that he did not instruct the students in their actions.
The students came up against a faculty determined to protect what it called academic freedom and its liberty from having any tenure decisions dictated to it.
John C. Blydenburgh, chairman of the Government department and a faculty member who negotiated with students this week before they left the president's office, said that pushing through Gummerson's tenure would violate the "basic norms" of the university.
Blydenburgh said that such a demand was "unrealistic," and students circulating a petition against the sit-in said that the occupiers' insistence on tenure for Gummerson was an issue that would polarize the campus.
The occupiers conceded this week by abandoning that central demand and carrying on more general negotiations for more Marxist instruction at the school.
Gummerson, who wandered over to the sit-in Wednesday afternoon during the first negotiations, only smiled when he heard that his own cause has been dismissed for the broader concerns.
"Only by focusing on Gummerson can you focus on Marxism, and now that Gummerson stuff is divisive," he said, pausing on the stairs of the Geography building. "It shows the power of the dialectical process: Feedbacks."
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