Activism at Clark
AT CLARK UNIVERSITY last week, in the president's office on the second floor of the Geography building, they turned off the electric typewriters and disconnected the phones, and all the clerical employees had to cram themselves into offices at the other end of the corrider. The president, Morton H. Appley, was steamed up about his normal functions being disrupted, but he made no forceful effort to remove the cause of the disruption, more than 50 students who were sitting in. After ten days the students left the offices Friday afternoon, and business had apparently returned to normal as Appley himself claimed in a sugar-coated statement designed to placate Clark's indignant alumni and trustees. For the students who had occupied and left, Appley said, the whole process had been an educational experience--they had learned from their errors.
On the face of it, the students who walked out of the Geography building last week didn't accomplish much. They had failed to win any concrete concessions from the faculty in their demands for more Marxist instruction at the school, and had also abandoned their leading demand, the tenure of a Marxist economist who had not been rehired. But even while they sat in, the students had forced a minor "left-face" from the Clark faculty--something that never would have happened if they had not dislocated Appley for those ten days.
As a direct result of the sit-in, the Clark faculty will have to consider seriously resolutions for a program of Marxist courses--a demand it has turned its back on before--and will have to deal with students throughout these considerations. Personnel decisions that have traditionally been the closeted concerns of committees were laid bare. Clark students will clearly have more control over the curriculum as a consequence of the sit-in. The only area in which the students failed was in their demand for the tenure of Alan F. Gummerson, who was not rehired partly because he is a Marxist.
The tenacity and exuberance the Clark students displayed while they say in are admirable signs of dedication at a time when student activisim has been replaced nationally by a "new mood on campus." Their actions were much more successful than the protests launched against the conservative Harvard Economics Department when it released Samuel S. Bowles and Herbert M. Gintis three years ago. Harvard students clearly are not aware of the decisions the Economics Department here is making, or of what place Marxist scholarship will have at the University. As for the Clark students, their "education" is minor in comparison with the enlightenment they forced upon a conservative faculty about a type of instruction it had attempted to block under the shibboleths of academic freedom.
Read more in NewsTHE FUTURE OF PUTNAM PARK