WORCESTER-Students who have occupied the president's office at Clark University here for the last eight days to press their demands for increased Marxist instruction began negotiating yesterday with a committee of faculty and administrators.
The students continued their occupation of the second-floor offices of Clark President Morton H. Appley after a two-hour session yesterday afternoon at which they presented resolutions for the establishment of a tenured position in Marxist economics to the ad hoc committee.
Between five and ten of the students also are continuing a hunger strike that about 50 of the protesters had begun Monday to emphasize the urgency of their demands.
At the center of the controversy is Alan F. Gummerson, an assistant professor of Economics denied tenure last year.
A group of about 100 students calling themselves the "Tenure Alan Gummerson" committee first occupied the economics department offices in late March to protest the department's refusal to reverse its decision, then began the current sit-in last Wednesday.
"The issue is Marxism, there are no other terms," Robert A. Machson, a Clark senior who was suspended during the takeover, said yesterday.
During yesterday's negotiations, students apparently abandoned their demand of tenure for Gummerson and centered their demands on the establishment of Marxist instruction at Clark.
The chairman of the Economics Department said last night that his department would meet this morning to discuss the student demands for a tenured position, and Machson said last night that he fears their request that a "full load" of Marxist courses be offered next year will be "fucked over."
John C. Blydenburgh, chairman of the Government Department and a member of the ad hoc faculty panel, said yesterday that a resolution to tenure Gummerson would violate the "basic norms of the university," by threatening academic freedom.
Blydenburgh, whom students privately called "sneaky" but whom they addressed as "John," said later that he would "work to implement" any resolutions the negotiations produced and wondered aloud whether such a commitment would induce the students to leave the building.
Appley, who was out of town yesterday, last week said the takeover, which has forced him to a temporary office, would hurt his performance as president, then stated before the faculty that he can use any means necessary to remove the students.
Marcia A. Savage, dean of the college, said yesterday that Appley was "frustrated" but that he did not mention calling in the police as an alternative. Appley relayed a message to The Crimson yesterday that he regrets the fact that students had undertaken a hunger strike.
One group of students has circulated a counter-petition urging the occupiers to end the sit-in because it has disrupted the normal functions of the university.
Machson, an occupier, said that "90 per cent" of the more that 2000 students at the university do not understand Marxism and that "if a small group doesn't maintain itself and be strong, they'll never learn about it, they'll be afraid of it."
Gummerson, who said that he had "changed horses in midstream" after coming to Clark six years ago by switching his focus to Marxist economics, said yesterday that he would continue his own demand for tenure.
Roger Van Tassel, chairman of the Economics Department, last year wrote that Gummerson's interests were "peripheral" to the "thrust" of the department, but he also cited alleged deficiencies in Gummerson's teaching and writing as grounds for the tenure decision.