WHY WE HAVE DECIDED TO BEGIN TO EXERCISE OUR RIGHTS AGAIN
WHY WE HAVE SET UP THE TABLES
The meetings of the Committee on Campus Political Activity have not been negotiating sessions, It is purely a study group; none of its members regard it as a negotiating body. We have no way to negotiate the conflict between our rights and the Administration's policies. The Administration has not given us any effective voice in determining the policies which affect us.
Part of the faculty proposal now before the Committee agrees on our right to solicit members and donations at campus tables. Since the Committee is at best advisory, and has proclainied itself deadlocked on the only issue it has considered yet, there is no indication that its further sessions will help restore this right. For a month we have voluntarily refrained from exercising this right. But a month is a long time; already many organizations have been seriously hurt by this restraint.
The long history of Administrative disregard for student rights, and of "negotiations" carried on in bodies with no power, gives us strong reason to fear that if we continue not to exercise this right we will never retain it. Rights not exercised die away. Since the Administration seems unwilling to approve actual negotiations, we have decided reluctantly that the only way to show that we will not give up this right is to exercise it. We cannot in good conscience keep the tables down anymore.
WHY WE HAVE BEGUN TO ADVOCATE AGAIN
As a study group the Committee has been and will continue to be valuable. Its sessions have clarified our differences with the Administration on the subject of advocacy. We both agree that certain special forms of advocacy may not be Constitutionally protected, and may be unlawful. The FSM holds that only courts of law can determine that an act of advocacy is unlawful, and asks that freedom of advocacy on campus be subject only to such legal restraints.
The Administration disagrees. It demands the privilege to usurp the prerogatives of the courts, to pre-judge whether an act of advocacy is illegal, and to punish offenders before they have been found legally guilty. It demands this privilege as a tool to repress student social and political activity when outside pressures become great enough. At present it seems most responsive to pressures asking that it crush the Civil Rights movement. In the future this tool may be used against any student activity causing outside pressure to be directed at the Administration.
This position has been worded in several forms, but our lawyers agree that each form gives the privilege of prior jurisdiction in the area of advocacy. Some forms claim to set restrictions on tne exercise of this privilege. These restrictions are no safeguard, since the Administration claims the privilege of determining their meaning, as it has so often in the past.
We regard this claim to prior jurisdiction and the responsiveness to pressure that motivates it as shameful and unacceptable. If we are to be accused of unlawful advocacy, we ask that we be accused only in a court, and that we have all rights of trial and appeal, up to the highest bodies of appeal if necessary. The Constituion guarantees us these rights. Can the Administration give us less?
We ask for our full civil liberties as citizens, and maximum freedom of expression on campus, unrestricted by the Administration's capitulation to outside pressures. Soon we will publish our platform, which proposes changes in the regulations. It is based on three principles:
1. Arbitrary harasment and restraints of free speech and expression must not be tolerated.
2. The Adminstration must not usurp the prerogatives of the courts.
3. It is impossible for an individual's civil liberties to be adequately protected unless he has a voice in the formulation, interpretation, and enforcement of all regulations governing his conduct. The students' right to this voice has never been recognized by the Administration.
We have no way to negotiate about our rights. We see no way to get them, at this point, other than to exercise them publicly. We ask for no more than our rights; we will not settle for less. We ask your understanding and support.
November 9, 1964