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Students to Stage Silent Protest During Speech

By Ira E. Stoll

Campus activists said yesterday that they plan to conduct a five-minute silent protest during Commencement exercises tomorrow.

The activists intend to rise from their seats at the beginning of outgoing President Derek C. Bok's convocation and remain quietly standing for the next five minutes, said Jeanne F. Theoharis '91.

The demonstration is designed to show that Commencement "is a time for celebration but also for reflection," Theoharis said, as well as to call for an examination of "the sort of progress that we have not made."

She said that the protest is being coordinated by Linda Singer, a third-year student at Harvard Law school. Singer did not return recorded phone messages left yesterday.

Theoharis said that the students planning the protest have no common ideological platform. Instead, she said, they have a number of unresolved issues in mind, including Harvard's low rate of minority and women faculty hiring, the College's lack of a women's center and the University's relationship with the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers.

The planned protest is likely to be the last visible confrontation between Bok and the activists who have dogged him throughout the later stages of his two decades as president.

Early in his career as a Harvard administrator, Bok became known for his skillful handling of student protesters. He is frequently credited with having helped calm the campus unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s.

But relations between Bok and his student critics have at times been highly acrimonious. Last fall, protestors angry about the condition of the Afro-American Studies Department interrupted a panel discussion featuring Bok, then followed him to his car.

Theoharis said the students planning tomorrow's protest have no plans "to interrupt or disrupt at graduation."

She said that the protest's organizers expect graduating students from the Law School and other Harvard graduate schools to participate in the protest along with graduating College students. She said she was unable to estimate the number of protesters expected.

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