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The Administration:
Bungling Friend or Deliberate Enemy?

      The issue is free speech.

      Early this semester we were confronted with administrative rulings drastically reducing political activity on campus. The rights to solicit members, to collect funds, to advocate action in off-campus projects, rights students have always had at Cal, were abolished by administrative fiat. The rulings were the response of a single individual, Chancellor Strong, to rightwing political pressure. They had absolutely no basis in law, reason, tradition, or general Regents' policy.

      Administration officials frustrated all our attempts to explain that these rulings were unacceptable restrictions on our freedom of speech. Rights unexercised are lost, so we finally disregarded the new restrictions and continued normal campus political activity. In retaliation, the administration singled out eight participating students and suspended them. When Chancellor Strong ordered Jack Weinberg's arrest, our protest spontaneously grew to a massive sit-in around the police car. Under the pressure of this demonstration, Clark Kerr finally agreed to meet with student representatives, and thirty-three and one-half hours after Jack's arrest an agreement was signed.

      In order to understand the meaning of that agreement, it is essential to consider the circumstances under which it was reached. The administration had repeatedly announced to the press, even while the negotiations were in progress, that it would not accede to the students' demands and that it would not compromise on any aspect of the new restrictions. Our minimum demands were that the eight suspended students be reinstated, that Jack immediately be released, and that the administration meet with us to discuss the new rulings. The administration could not meet our demands without losing face, we could not accept the new rulings and the administration's punitive actions without betraying our commitment to free speech. However, the situation of Friday evening was explosive. Hundreds of policemen, armed with clubs, were ready to move in on the crowd of demonstrators and make mass arrests. An agreement had to be reached.

      Since the administration could not lose face, the agreement had to be worded to allow intermediate agencies to make the concessions we demanded. Thus the cases of the eight students were to be turned over to the Student Conduct Committee of the Academic Senate and acted on within a week, Jack was to be booked but then released, and a joint faculty-student- administration committee was to be set up to review the new restrictions and make recommendations to the administration. President Kerr assured us that he would consider carefully our recommendations for members to sit on this committee and told us that we had to have some trust in the administration.

      Now, what has happened to this agreement? The cases of the suspended students were supposed to be referred to the Student Conduct Committee of the Academic Senate, but no such committee of the Academic Senate exists. In fact, the cases were referred to a committee appointed by Chancellor Strong. The duration of the suspensions was to be decided within a week. Almost two weeks have passed and the students have not had a hearing before any committee at all. President Kerr promised to consider student recommendations for the joint faculty-student-administration committee, yet when the Free Speech Movement to contact him during the weekend with its recommendations, he was consistently unavailable. Monday morning the names of the committee members appeared in the newspapers.

      President Kerr had demonstrated bad faith even before this. As the students, in compliance with the agreement, dispersed from around the police car, Kerr was holding a press conference. He smeared and red-baited the entire Free Speech Movement. He said the students used "Communist tactics," whatever those are. Forty per cent of the leadership, Kerr said, were non-students (they were, of course, students suspended by the administration). He even was quoted in the Examiner of October 3 as saying that 49 per cent of the students "followed the Mao-Castro line"!

      President Kerr told us that we should trust the administration. His statements and actions, from the moment the agreement was signed, have betrayed our trust.

      The agreement is broken, but our demands remain. How can we achieve them now? It is ridiculous to think that an administration-appointed committee, whose recommendations will finally be approved or rejected by the administration, will upset the administration's rules. Why then has the study committee been set up?

      The answer is simple. Committees mean delay, and delay, even for so short a time as until midterms, means the death of large-scale student protest. Furthermore, because the joint committee has no power and is ostensibly a neutral, objective body, it serves as a buffer between the students and the administration. The recommendations of a committee two-thirds composed of administration and faculty will be a compromise of our demands. The administration will then compromise with this compromise. We cannot sit back and allow a third party, however neutral, to negotiate in our behalf. We cannot settle for less than our full rights as citizens.

      As long as we allow the administration to maintain the initiative, any concessions to free speech will be a dispensation, not a restoration of our rights. We therefore cannot afford to participate in their committees, under their rules and their control.

      The issue is free speech.


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