The University Tries its Students: Case Histories From the CRR File

Susan Faludi:

IT TOOK LOCAL POLICE and state troopers less than an hour to clear University Hall of student protesters in 1969, battering heads with billyclubs, choking lungs with tear gas, and knocking Timothy H.S. Venn ’72 from his wheelchair onto the concrete. It took the Faculty less than one day to agree to set up a disciplinary body called the Committee of Fifteen, later the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR), to punish these student demonstrators. It took less than two months for the Committee of Fifteen to penalize 135 students, forcing 16 to leave the University–many for good.

And it has taken slightly more than a decade for the students who have taken their places to forget everything. They have forgotten that the members of the Committee of Fifteen–along with the CRR, which replaced it–conducted its hearings in seclusion behind locked and guarded doors on the penthouse-level Meeting Room K of Holyoke Center, high above the student rallies. They have forgotten that it accepted hearsay evidence; they have forgotten that it would not permit appeal outside of itself. They have forgotten that students and faculty were not equally represented on the committee panel. They have forgotten that Faculty and administrators–not to mention the police–could not be prosecuted for breaking the same rules as the students.

This month the Class of ’84 and South and Adams Houses decided to break the student boycott of CRR–a boycott started because of these conditions and because students felt the CRR existed only to stifle political expression. The Freshman Council and the Adams House Committee last week decided to place their decisions on hold while they poll their student constituencies. South House students, however, still plan to send two students to CRR, which has not met since 1975.