Black Law Students End Dean's Office Sit-In

Settlement With Vorenberg Promises Action on 7 of 12 Demands

The 50 Black law students who Tuesday occupied the office of Law School Dean James Vorenberg '49 ended their demonstration yesterday afternoon, after reaching a settlement that protest leaders said addressed their concerns about minority representation on the faculty.

The demonstrators yesterday afternoon spilled out of the dean's office--where they had been camped for nearly 24 hours--to a rally at Harkness Commons. At the rally, leaders of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) announced that they were pleased with the progress made in a morning meeting with Vorenberg and Associate Dean Andrew L. Kaufman '51 and would not return to the office.

"The sit-in is over for now," Robert D. Wilkins, BLSA president, said at a rally yesterday afternoon. "We've accomplished what we can."

Under the terms of the settlement, announced by Vorenberg yesterday at a faculty meeting and released as a statement, the dean said he will act on the proposals made by the protesters that were "consistent with the school's long-standing policy of increasing the numbers of minority members of the profession."

Specifically, Vorenberg said the school agreed to:


.examine the possibility of creating a graduate fellowship to encourage minority students to teach law;

.ask Byrne Professor of Administrative Law Clark Byse to advise minority students interested in teaching law;

.address concerns of minority professors about living in the Boston area, and "continue to give high priority to minority hiring";

.consider ways to increase student involvement in faculty appointments, without allowing students to sit on appointment committees.

At the rally, Wilkins said, "We put together 12 demands which will institutionalize their commitment. In negotiations with [Vorenberg] and Dean Kaufman, we got them to agree to take specific action on seven of those 12 demands."

While the sit-in had been marked by the unusual cooperation between protesters and adminstrators--with the dean's secretary showing protesters how to use the office coffee machine--Vorenberg "regretted that the students had sat in, even if only briefly, since they had met together a month ago with the dean and some faculty and had agreed on an ongoing process," the statement said.

And in an interview yesterday, Vorenberg said the terms of the agreement were not the result of pressure from the protest, but rather the reiteration of the Law School's existing commitment to improve minority representation on the faculty.

"I don't think it was a compromise because I think we're all looking towards the same goals," Vorenberg said. "We have a special search committee for minorities. We already have a requirement that the appointments committee report every year to the faculty on the prospects for the hiring of women and minorities."

Kaufman agreed, saying "It was more a recapitulation of the discussion of what could be done."

However, five of the BLSA demands that called on the school to meet specific minority hiring goals--including the appointment of Professor of Law Derrick Bell as Vorenberg's successor--were dismissed in the settlement. "Matters related to specific faculty appointments are confidential and could not be discussed," Vorenberg said in the statement.