Law School students and faculty yesterday received a letter from Dean Robert C. Clark chastising student protesters for participation in a recent sit-in and threatening suspension or expulsion for "future disruptions."
Clark sent letters to students who were identified in official photographs as participants in an April 10 Griswold Hall protest for more faculty diversity. According to the letter, the sit-in prevented nine administrators and staff members from entering their offices during the day.
"I am writing to put you on the clearest possible notice that future disruptions like this one, or other violations of Law School and University rules, will be immediately subject to disciplinary action," Clark wrote in the letter, dated April 23.
Clark wrote that no future warnings would be given, and that the likely punishments for future disruptive actions include "suspension and expulsion."
In an unusual move for an administrator responding to a student protest, Clark sent copies of the letter, with an additional cover letter, to all students, faculty and staff at the Law School. That cover letter slammed the protesters, stating that they had "failed to exhibit proper respect for the rights of other members of the community and for the rules that protect those rights."
Clark also cited "an unidentified student's pushing a secretary in the Dean's Office during a demonstration," and students refusing to allow secretaries to leave the office as instances of such disrespect.
Finally, he bashed demonstrations which disrupted classes, stating, "students are not free to enter or remain in a classroom contrary to the direction of the instructor, and that disruption of classes will not be tolerated."
A copy of the University's resolution on rights and responsibilities, which calls "interference with members of the University in performance with their normal duties and activities" an "unacceptable destruction of the essential processes of the University," was appended to the letters.
Members of the Law School's Coalition for Civil Rights, which organized the protests, gathered near the Harkness Common mailboxes yesterday evening, said they would not back down to Clark.
I Am Not Afraid
"I am not afraid. I am not intimidated," said Keith O. Boykin, a second year law student, who was present at the recent sit-in.
The students voiced extreme displeasure with Clark's letter. Many questioned the veracity of his account of their behavior, calling the accusation of secretary-shoving "completely unfounded." Some said the Dean's actions violated their rights to due process and equal protection under the law.
Julia R. Gordon '85, a second year law student, particularly objected to Clark's method of identifying protesters. "For them to take pictures of us is an intimidation tactic," she said, adding that newspaper photographers had been forcibly ejected from Griswold Hall.
"If they had asked me for identification, I would have produced it," said Gordon. she also said it was unfair that only some of the protesters had been identified in the photographs.
Gordon said that sending copies of the letters to all law school students was tantamount to McCarthyism.