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It is crucial that everyone be absolutely clear on the issues that deadlocked the Committee on Campus Political Activity last Saturday. The differences between the FSM-supported position and that supported by the Administration seem technical, but we depend upon the intelligence of all concerned to see through the technicalities, to see that the first position protects civil liberties, while the second denies them.

FSM Position on Advocacy

The range of civil liberties and political freedoms of any member of the university community or anyone else which are constitutionally protected off the campus should be equally protected on the campus. By the same of course, speech or conduct which is in violation of law and constitutionally unprotected, should receive no greater protection on the campus than off the campus. In the area of speech and political conduct the University may not regulate content, and must leave to the appropriate civil authorities the sole right to punishment for any transgressions of law. While we recognize the need for appropriate regulations regarding the time, place, and manner of exercising constitutional rights, based upon maintenance of the appropriate function of the University and its peaceful operation, such regulations may not either directly or indirectly interfere with the right to speech or the content of such speech.

The Lawyers of the American Civil Liberties Union

Support the Above Position

Administration-supported position on advocacy: (This was the most liberal position of the several taken by the Administration in the Committee.) (It is not clear that they remain willing to grant even this much.) If unlawful acts directly result from campus advocacy, for which unlawful acts (deemed finally and conclusively unlawful in a court of law) the speaker or his organization can fairly be held directly accountable under prevailing legal principles. By virtue of this on-campus advocacy the University should be entitled to impose appropriate disciplinary action against the speaker and his organization.


The Differences Between the Positions

(In questions of advocacy, two distinct acts are involved: the act of advocacy, and the act that is advocated. For example, if someone speaks on campus advocating a sit-in and the sit-in does occur, that person's speech is the act of advocacy and the sit-in is the act advocated.) The Administration position is unacceptable in two respects.

1. It allows the University to pass judgment on the legitimacy of the act of advocacy itself (although it gratuitously allows the courts to determine the legitimacy of the act that is advocated). It is not within the competence of the University to make such judgments. Only courts of law are competent to make them.

2. It allows the University to impose punishments for acts of advocacy that it deems illegal, This would be unacceptable even if the judgments as to the legality of the act of advocacy were left to the courts. Just as the civil authorities are the only ones competent in these cases, they are also the only ones competent to impose punishments. For the University which is an arm of the State to punish the same act that the courts punish is, in fact, double jeopardy.

The Practical Effect of the Administration-Supported Position

The practical effect of giving the University the power to judge the legitimacy of acts of advocacy and to impose punishments on the basis of these judgments is to give the University a weapon. This weapon would be dangerous and potentially lethal to effective political action on this campus. It is clear that the University is subject to great external pressure. The power of this pressure was illustrated last spring when the University attempted to take disciplinary action against student demonstrators participating in sit-ins at the Sheraton-Palace Hotel and the auto agencies. The University proposal would give the administration the power to impose disciplinary action against students for advocating off-campus political and social action.

Further, the Administration would have the power to take away all the on-campus rights of the organizations that sponsored that advocacy on campus. It would, if accepted, now give them a weapon in the future to crush any student movement on this campus that had become effective enough in the outside community to bring pressure on the University to repress.

Both in principle and in effect the Administration-supported position constitutes an intolerable infringement upon political rights. That is why we voted against this proposal in the Committee. We made clear at that time that we were willing to continue discussions on other issues in the committee. We regret the Administration's unilateral dissolution of that body.



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