Report to the Antioch Community on the March 14, 1964, Demonstration

from
The Student Personnel Committee
June 9, 1964

A subcommittee of the Student Personnel Committee, charged to investigate the demonstration of March 14, 1964, met eight times. At the first two meetings members attempted to arrive at a common understanding of Antioch standards in the area of student social and political action. In this nay the subcommittee hoped to avoid having its perception of standards biased by its findings of fact. Three meetings then were devoted to hear­ing witnesses to and participants in the demonstrations. In the first of these meetings Roland Smith, Shop assistant, Behavior Research laboratory, who was chairman of a noon meeting in the Antioch Auditorium on March 14, gave his interpretation of the development of the situation. His testi­mony was supplemented at various points by other persons at she hearing who had been participants in or spectators at the demonstration. At the following meeting Hardy Trolander, member of the Yellow Springs Human Relations Commission, who had been in close touch with the situation as it developed, presented his interpretation of the events. At the last of these meetings, Joseph Brady, rector of development for Antioch College, and observer of the March 14 meeting and demonstration, reported his observations and perceptions Dean of Students J. J. Dawson, Associate Dean Walter Sikes, Community Manager Philip Schaeffer, past Community Manager Steven Parry, and professor Howard Johnson told about those aspects of the demonstration and its development with which they had had direct connection. The final three sessions were devoted to the formulation and discussion of their report, which was revised and approved by the Student Personnel Committee on June 9, 1964.

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This report has three main sections. These deal with (1) the standards relating to groups as they were perceived by the S.P.C.; (2) situations surrounding the demonstration that relate to the perceived standards; and (3) results of inquiry.

I. Standards Relating to Groups

The general regulations and statement of standards in relation to social action are set forth in the Community Handbook.* In its discussion the subcommittee looked at four areas of application of these standards: the consultation process, the decision-making process, the preparations for demonstrations, and the conduct of demonstrations.

a, The Consultation Process

The consultation should take place with the persons directly responsible for planning, organizing and leading a proposed demon­stration or activity. it should take place at the earliest possible tine in the planning in order to allow careful consideration and mutual deliberation. The intent of the code provisions is that consultation should take place at a time and in a manner to make possible maximum benefits both to the group and to the institution. In keeping with this principle consultation should include the following: clarification of the objectives of ,he proposed demonstration, appraisal of the legal situation, publicity and public rela­tions problems for the group as well as the college, evaluation of alternative modes of action, consideration of appropriateness of the chosen means to the desired ends, precautions against violence, anticipation of undesired actions and planning for response to them, group training and information, and proper notification of authorities. The reporting of the consultation back to the group will vary

*The statement is appended to this report.

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in importance with the seriousness of the activity and the state of planning. When the discussion raises serious questions about the plans, those consulting are responsible for communicating such questions to the group prior to the final decision.

b. The Decision-Making Process

When a demonstration or other activity is to involve a group of Antioch community members, both the initial decision and the final approval of the plans for the activity should be made on the basis of reasoned deliberation. To this end it is essential that as accuracy and as complete information as possible be provided the group by its leaders and by resource persons. Although strong feeling is usually present when important issues are at stake, it is a prime responsi­bility of the group and its leadership to insure that the atmosphere of the meeting be such that rational consideration and deliberation are possible.

c. Preparations for demonstrations

The preparation for the demonstration should include consideration of the kind of factors mentioned under 1(a). Preparation should include the briefing and training of the demonstrators in the plan of action, anticipation of possible emergencies and planned responses, and precautions against violence. reparation also should include efforts to assure continuity of leadership and appropriate means for communication with the public and lair enforcement authorities.

d. Conduct of Demonstrations and Activities

The objectives of demonstrations and similar activities should be kept in mind by all participants. Leadership of the action should

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be aware of all developments and should be prepared to take appropriate action when the demonstration has served its end, or when its continuance no longer serves its end. It is important that safeguards be followed in order to avoid irrational and violent behavior that can arise in group activities and demonstrations,

II. Situations Surrounding the Demonstration

The S.P.C. recognized that as a result of the repeated frustration of attempts to secure legal action against Lewis Gegner following the Appellate Court decision, the Antioch Committee for Racial Equality and its supporters had broadened their concern to include village and county officials. Conflicting attitudes and interpretations by those within and without clearly contributed to the misunderstanding, frustration, and mutual distrust that were evident on Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14. It is only against this background of tension and strong feeling that the matter of the injunction can be interpreted. Under the circumstances, both in cording and in timing the injunction was open to adverse interpretation as a partisan action of the court against the civil rights cause in the question of integration, and it was so interpreted by those most active in the movement. It is also in this context that the high level of emotion in the situation must be evaluated.

The subcommittee, charged with the review and evaluation of A.C.R.E.'s adherence to community standards in the events leading up to the Demonstration of March 14, felt that it was not in a position to consent either on the results of the demonstration or on the legal aspects involved. The subcommittee accepted the charge and agreed to limit its inquiry chiefly because it realized that the areas ruled out were largely irrelevant to its purposes, which were to examine the actions in the light

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of community standards. Important as the ends or results of a particular social-political demonstration may be, the means used must be of critical concern in the community evaluation.

A.C.R.E., followed consultation requirements very well until the Friday, March 13, meeting. The new circumstances created to the injunction, the timing of its issuance on the day before the pre-planned demonstration, and the speed with which new problems and considerations arose and were dealt with led to a breakdown in the process of consulta­tion at a tine when the process would nave been of the most help and importance. From S.P.C.'s point of view, there seemed to be inadequate consideration by of questions relating to preparation in light of the chanted circumstances.

The decision at the Friday meeting of specified that the Saturday meeting would make the final decision to demonstrate or not to demonstrates or to stage a demonstration that would not violate the injunction. However, the leadership failed to develop for presentation to the group that met on Saturday the action plans for these alternatives. There was no plan for continuity of leadership if the initial leaders were to be arrested. The decision to lock arms was made quickly on Saturday and there seemed to be little consideration of the effect this action could have on the officials charged with enforcing the injunction and on the outcome of the entire demonstration.

If the Saturday meeting was to have been a deliberative one, every precaution should have been taken to preserve an atmosphere in which reasonable deliberation would be possible. However, the performance of the Freedom Singers created an atmosphere that made it difficult to have a deliberative assembly. What is at issue hero is not the result, which

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might have been the sane in any case, but that such emotional influences do not lend themselves to sound decision-making procedure.

The final decision to demonstrate was not a decision of the sponsoring group but of an ad hoc group with no institutional standing or responsi­bility. The Central State and Wilberforce students, who played a vital role in the decision, were not included in the consultation process and therefore received information and counsel only from their own analysis and from the Saturday noon meeting. In view of tine seriousness off the contemplated action and the possible consequences to those arrested, careful planning and deliberation should have beer. carried out even when there was pressure of time.

In regard to the conduct of the demonstration, the policy of locking arms and sitting in the street is not regarded by the S.P.C. as having been within the spirit of avoiding irrational and violent behavior. It tended to increase the elements of hostility and increased the likelihood of the outbreak of violence over and above the risks present in normal demonstrations. The S.P.C. recognizes, however, that the alleged violence that took place during the demonstration was brought on by several factors, including: ill preparation and defiance by demonstrators; poor preparation and injudicious actions by some police; a lack of differentiation and separation between demonstrators and onlookers; and a lack of control and dispersion of hecklers and supporters. The violation of the injunction did not necessarily have to lead to disorder, but those partaking in the demonstration must realize the part they played in precipitating the disorder both by their actions and by insufficient planning and preparation.

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III. Results of inquiry

a. The S.P.C, both recognizes and accepts the fact that Community Standards are to a degree ambiguous, just as all general statements of policy must be. However, ambiguity of standards places the responsibility for careful consideration and clear -thinking squarely upon those who contemplate action within the context of the applicable standards.

b, The S.P.C. feels that the shortcomings pointed out above were serious and might have had much rare serious consequences. The lack of adequate planning and decision-making for the demonstration together with the lack of adequate consideration of the possibility of violence and of the necessity for continuing leadership in the conduct of the demonstra­tion were the critical errors that the subcommittee noted.

The S.P.C. finds it difficult to allocate specific responsibility to particular individuals in this case. It is clear, however, that the official leaders of A.C.R.E, share heavily in the responsibility for these shortcomings because of their roles in the organization. However, it is also clear that the actual leadership was more diffused, and others in addition to the stated leaders must bear a considerable measure of responsibility for the stated shortcomings.

c. The S.P.C. recommends that the following proposals be considered for inclusion in our community standards:

1) That the word "Antioch" should not appear in the name of any independent group in such a way as to imply official college sup­port except as applied to a local chapter of a national organization.

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2) That, although non-community members may be used as resource persons by an independent group, or be invited to participate in its programs, they may not hold regular membership with voting privileges.

2) That any further requirements for membership in independent groups

3) be clearly defined and stated on the registration sheets filed with the Community Manager and the Dean of Students.

4) That in decisions requiring consultation the leaders shall be ready to report the degree of group support to the Community Manager or the Jean of Students on request. (n.b. This does not require the reporting of an individual's vote, but the number of yeas, nays, abstentions and the total group membership.)

5) That consideration be given by the Community to a more careful analysis and definition of the principles of non-violence.

d. The Student .Personnel Committee recommends that this report should be made public. if anything is to be learned from the events that took place around March 14, then the reflections and considerations of those who have evaluated those events with some care should be made available for the consideration, reflection and discussion of the community in general.

The Student personnel Committee Spring quarter, 1964

Urma Adams Eric Raimy*
Adrian Bennett John Sissala
John Hogarty Stephen Straker*
Howard Johnson Richard Yalman

J. Dudley Dawson, Chairman
Miriam L. Dickinson, Secretary

Appendix

The following is the statement :.which appears on page 23 of the Antioch community Handbook 1963-64 regarding social and political activities:

The following administrative policy of the College is designed to aid the student in exercising the functions of citizenship.

Each student should keep these conditions clearly in mind:

1. That social and political activities are expected to be within recognized legal limits.

2. That all possible safeguards should be followed to avoid irrational and violent behavior that can arise in group activities and demonstrations.

3. That the student's role is always as an individual citizen and not as a representative of the College or of his co-operative employer. In effect this is often difficult to achieve, because he invariably is identi­fied with the College and, in a sense, represents the College however he may try to avoid it. However, an Antioch student can and should sake pains not to involve himself in the name of the College or of his co-operative employer.

4. That, as a student, whether at College or on the job, he is subject to the same responsibilities and standards of acceptable conduct and good taste that he knows the College expects. 1f a student goes out of reasonable bounds in his social or political action, he will be subject to review by College authorities and his tenure could be jeopardized. (For students under 21 years, there nay be legal situations where parents become involved, so that due consideration should be given to this factor.)

The College policy regarding social and political activities on and off campus does not restrict the student from exercising his convictions and rights as a citizen subject to the conditions stated above. He must, however, consult in advance with the Community Manager and the dean of students (see the Civil Liberties Code in the Appendix.).