Former Prof. Speaks on '69 Protest

Rosenblatt Discusses University Hall Takeover by Radical Students

It was 28 years ago yesterday when Nathan M. Pusey '28, then president of the University, sent police into University Hall to retake the building from a rowdy group of anti-war protesters.

In a speech before a crowd of 150 in the Graduate School of Education's Longfellow Hall last night, Roger Rosenblatt--who served on the committee that decided the punishment of those students--said the kind of radical ideology they espoused has had a lasting, negative effect on society.

In a speech sponsored by the Harvard Education Forum, Rosenblatt, former professor of English at the College, recounted the events, describing the aftermath of the takeover as "a real atmosphere of chaos and destruction."

After the arrest of the students who occupied University Hall, Rosenblatt served on a committee of 15 Faculty members and students whose job was to decide what disciplinary action the College should take against the protesters.

Rosenblatt, who is currently a contributing editor at both Time and The New Republic magazines and author of Coming Apart: A Memoir of the Harvard Wars of 1969, said he became involved in the events because of his liberal stance and his reputation in Dunster House as a tutor who was receptive to student concerns.


Rosenblatt said that when the list of Faculty members who were to serve on the committee was read over an intercom, each name was greeted with boos by the students, except one.

His received cheers.

"I knew from that point I was a dead duck," he said.

Rosenblatt knew that as much as he sympathized with the students' liberal ideas, their extreme actions warranted some type of disciplinary action.

The committee's subsequent decision to suspend only the students who had forcibly ejected some of the deans from University Hall touched off a fire storm of controversy on campus.

But to Rosenblatt, the decision was a clear one.

"Ambiguity is fine if you're talking about [poet] Wallace Stevens, but ambiguity is not fine if you're talking about shoving people down stairs," he said.

Rosenblatt said he can still remember the students' angry screams when the decision was announced.

"It was the howl of a generation that was about to come into its own," he said.

Rosenblatt said "the idea that liberals were the enemy" was one of the worst results of the radical politics of the 1960s.

The current backlash of the extreme right stems from the forsaking of moderate liberal ideology in the late '60s, Rosenblatt said.

"The total effect [of the 1960s] has been lousy," he said

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