BOSTON UNIVERSITY is beginning to cave in on its president, John R. Silber. Groups of both professors and students have called for his dismissal, and more than 500 professors from neighboring colleges--including Harvard--have pledged to withhold administrative courtesies from B.U. until Silber is removed as president.
Silber richly deserves this fate. In his eight years as president he has systematically subverted academic freedom and violated the rights of students, professors, and staff.
He used tenure and promotions as political tools to punish his critics. Often overriding departmental recommendations, the central administration has frequently denied salary increases to Silber's critics.
Because of Silber's determination to stifle criticism, the administration adopted a new publication policy under which student activity fees cannot finance student publications. The B.U. News and Commonwealth magazine both folded partly as a result of this policy.
Most recently Silber began proceedings to fire or suspend five activist professors because they refused to cross picket lines of striking clerical workers, contending that they violated their contracts.
THE CLEAR RESULT of these policies is to discourage dissent and erode academic freedom. The B.U. administration argues that persons at other universities should not interfere with its internal problems, but to accept that reasoning is to turn one's back on the extraordinary and indisputable violations of the rights of students and professors.
Of course, Silber's administration is not without its achievements. His organizational skills and reputation for academic brilliance initially gave B.U. a facelift and injected it with new credibility. But the authoritarian atmosphere at B.U. has overridden these gains and the tension and turmoil have at times made a shambles of the educational process. The extraordinary situation at B.U. can be repaired only under a new president. We urge the B.U. trustees to listen to the university's student body and faculty and dismiss John Silber.