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November 26, 1969 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1969-11-26

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Page Eight

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, November 26, 1969

Pag Eiht HEMICIGA DILYWedesayNovmbr 2, 196

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Students

use

courts

to

(EDITOWS NOTE: The following
article is reprinted from the mid-
western edition of the WVall Street
Jo"n"a".)
MAGNOLIA, Ark. -- When a
movement began at Southern
State College here last year to
set up a biracial human rights
group, officials wondered whether
the school was ready.
Dean of Students Donald Haef-
ner was openly concerned. T h e
proposed group called itself Stu-
dents United for Rights and
Equality (SURE).
"In this day of the SDS," says
Haefner, "you ask what t h ey
mean by 'rights'aand 'equality.'
School President I m o n E.
Bruce was upset because SDS lit-
erature appeared on campus last
fall when SURE was organizing,
along with strangers on campus
"whose appearance is what we'd
normally call hippy." But SURE
was approved after long discus-
sion.
It was soon put on probation by
Bruce for criticizing a white Bap-
tist church near campus t h a t
turned away black students.In
March, the group was suspended
after inviting two controversial
speakers to campus in defiance of
Mr. Bruce's order to withdraw the
invitation.
At m a n y colleges, the battle
would have ended there - or an-
gry students might have taken to
the streets. But here students
chose another course. They hired:
a Little Rock lawyer -and are su-
ing Bruce, Haefner and all the
school's trustees. The Federal suit
alleges violations of various Con-
stitutional rights, including free,
speech.
The SURE c a s e points up a
striking new development in stu-

dent dissent. Throughout the where are urged to do as an al-, wiii be able to keep track of all
country, college and even h i g h ternative to violence." the cases."

school students are testing wheth-
er the courts offer an alternative
to disruption as a remedy for their'
asserted grievances.
T h e result is an explosion of
student - rights litigation t h a t{
alarms many school officials andI
heartens many civil libertarians.
The Southern State case is one,

Not surprisingly, Southern State
officials see the case in a different
light. "The question is whether
the students are going to run the
school," says a college spokesman.
The college won the first round in
Federal district court in El Do-
rado, but the students are appeal-
ing to the circuit court.

Experts see various reasons for
the trend. "Students are more ac-
ticist and don't accept the idea
that the dean of students is chief
and that students don't have
rights," says Prof. Steele.
"Also, there's been a tremen-
dous increase in free or cheap le-
gal counsel. If you or I had
marched as students 10 years ago,
we couldn't have found a f r e e!
lawyer.
Students are losing most of their
cases, but lawyers say that's not
unusual in an embryonic area of

wind
der a vague charge of "miscon-
duct."
The case may be appealed to the
Supreme Court, although Wiscon-
sin officials now are leaning
against any appeal.
But even if it isn't appealed,'
the Supreme Court may soon face
squarely the issue of vague pro-
hibitions of misconduct as dis-
ciplinary weapons. It has agreed
to review a circuit court case in-
volving students of Tennessee

e galti
pus party where marijuana was
found.
The legal victories being won by
students reflect a change in the
attitude of the courts toward stu-
dents. Traditionally, the law has
given to school administrators
some of the status of parents, thus
allowing them broad powers to dis-
cipline and regulate students.
But most lawyers say the con-
cept of "in loco parentis" is
crumbling. Doyle, in striking down

0S
far greater legal protection than
their counterparts in private
schools. This is because the Con-
stitution protects citizens against
arbitrary action by their govern-
ment (in this case, state-financed
schools> but not against the same
actions by private citizens or _or-
ganizations.
"We're light years away from
progress in private schools," says
Miss Norton of the ACLU. "First
we must establish a foothold in the
public schools."
But some courts are siding with
private-school students, ruling
that a private school may become
public in some sense by such acts
as accepting Federal aid.
A state court this year ordered
a 19-year-old student reinstated at
Boston University, a private col-
lege, after he was expelled for al-

It's a two-way street
University officials as well as students are turning to the
courts for help in the disputes raging on campuses.
The administrators mainly have sought injunctions against
demonstrating students. Columbia University, for example, got
court orders last year forcing students to disperse or face con-
tempt-of-court penalties.
Earlier this month Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.,
got a court order restraining an all-black campus group from dis-
rupting "athletic, social or academic events." The order came af-
ter wide student unrest over suspension of a Negro student.
Among the sternest court actions instigated by a university
was one that took place last May at Dartmouth. Officials obtain-
ed an injunction against students and others who had seized the
administration building in an attempt to pressure the college to
drop ROTC.
State police then arrested the sit-in demonstrators when they
refused to obey the injunction. Fifty of these, including 40 Dart-
mouth students, were sentenced to 30-day jail terms and fined
$100 each for contempt of court.

A&I State University who passed the misconduct rule at Wisconsin,
out leaflets criticizing the school criticized the "parent" concept and
administration, noted that the mean age of Amer-
They were expelled under what ican college students is more than
th" t~ra~tc-mmiaiori t~n ,,21 andi that "nmonx them are mmor

law. "Winning isn't as impo
right now as educating the c
to the problem," says Fred C
a professor of criminal justi
the State University of New
in Albany. "You win a half
here and a foot there."
But students have already
ieved some notable victories.
eral judges have granted stu
in state-supported colleges
right to hear controversial sr
ers, to demonstrate peaceably
to be disciplined only accordi
strict rules of "due process" U
the 14th Amendment.
The procedural rights
firmly established include r
to a written notice of charge
impartial hearing a n d a1
script of the hearing as we
the right to testify and pr
witnesses and to hear all ad
evidence.
One of the most far-rear
student victories came only a
weeks ago. The U.S. circuits
in Chicago upheld a decisio
district Judge James Doyle
makes it unconstitutional f
university to punish a studen

rtantUthe suaents compiained was an
ourts unconstitutionally vague rule for-
ohen, bidding "disrespect" and "any
ce at other infractions . . . that require
York severe disciplinary action." The
-inch circuit court upheld the school
rule as well as its procedures.
1'

61 a. lu L.,.. A1A. AL flf L e1A* flife !hi re
over 30 years than under 18."
Changing court attitudes have
encouraged the National Student
Association (NSA), which repre-
sents some 400 student govern-
ments, to launch a major legal
riahte III-ml-am A nnsr iic i

The Supreme Court's decision in;ii5IU program. Among sunL legedly cheating on a biology test.
ach- the Tennessee-and possibly the has entered is one challenging th The c id the expulsion as
Fed- Wisconsin-case could have broad 1968 law that cuts off Federal aid "neither fair nor just" because,
dents impact. One attorney notes the to students taking part in disrup- among other reasons,sthe student
the Tennessee case will be the first tive demonstrations. NSA claims wasn't present when his professor
vean- ruling by the court on discipline the law is unconstitutionally testified against him.
adthat results in the severest aca-' vague.
ng to demic penalty, expulsion. Scores of student governments More sweeping victories have
under If the court upholds the stu- recently have hired attorneys to been won at public schools, how-
dents' view, administrators fear it advise them on everything from ever. In the area of free speech,
most could mean all public colleges marijuana arrests to demonstra- Auburn University students con-
'ights would have to draft highly specific tions. When Indiana State Uni- vinced a Federal court that their
s, an "criminal codes" of prohibited versity students encountered an president had no right to bar a
tran- activity. administration veto of a new campus speech by William Sloane
ll as "It's expecting too much of a school constitution passed by stu- 1 Coffin Jr., the Yale chaplain con-
esent university to force it to spell out dent referendum, they hired Nuss- victed of conspiracy to counsel
verse what it menas by misconduct," baum, a Washington lawyer, to draft evasion.
says Robert Moore, dean of stu- negotiate the impasse. The biggest free-speech victory
ching dents at Arkansas State Univer- "My presence, I think, had a for students came this year in the
a few sity. tremendous psychological impact," first student-rights case that the
court Moore is being sued by a student he says-a view confirmed by U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to
n by suspended for "conduct unbecom- school officials. The administra- hear in several decades. Three Des
that ing to a student." The student, tion recently approved the new Moines high school students, all
or a who is attacking the vagueness of constitution, containing a student members of a family named Tin-
t un- the charge, attended an off-cam- "bill of rights" and most provisions kei, were sent home from school
originally sought by students. for wearing black armbands pro-
* Many universities, fearful of testing the Vietnam war

of dozens of suits that could set
important precedents.
"The case involves the right of
a student to participate in stu-
dent life," says Walter Steele, a
young law professor at Southern
Methodist University. SURE's at-
torney, Burl Rotenberry, argues:
"These students are being pun-
ished for doing what students else-

Whatever happens, it's c le a r
that students have found a new
weapon to discomfit their elders.
"Student rights litigation h a s
grown overnight," s a y s Eleanor
Norton, a legal staff member of
the American Civil Liberties Un-
ion in New York. "And it's going
to burgeon the way civil rights
cases did. By next year, no one

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suits, are revising their disciplin-
ary procedures. But some find thatr
elaborate new ground rules, such
as allowing lawyers to represent
students at hearings, can be used
to frustrate the administration.
Charles Bleck, an assistant at-
torney general of Wisconin recalls
a recent University of Wisconsin,
attempt to discipline a student{
who allegedly threw a desk in a!
classroom during extensive dis-
orders there in February.E
"He showed up with a lawyer at
his hearing who promptly filed 15
technical objections," says Mr.
Bleck. After two weeks was spent
resolving them, the student's at-
torney then moved for a recess to
produce more witnesses. "At this
point the regents were just worn
out," he says. "They dismissed the
case and let the kid go back to
class."
Attorneys stress that students
in state-supported colleges have
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The High Court ruled the
school's action unconstitutional,
declaring, "In our system, state-
operated schools may not be en-
claves of totalitarianism."
But the case left major questions
unanswered. The Supreme Court
noted that violence or disruption
caused by protest wasn't an issue
in the case. It implied that a
strong threat of violence might be
ground for a school ban on such
"symbolic speech." But it added,
"Undifferentiated fear or appre-
hension of disturbance (on the
part of school officials) is not
enough to overcome the right to
freedom of expression."
A further test of how far the
court will permit dissent in schools
may come as a result of a Dallas
School Board decision to send
home any student who wears an
armband during the current Mora-
torium protests
Superintendent Nolan Estes
claims he has evidence the arm-
bands threaten "disruption and
violence" and thus don't come un-
der the Supreme Court ruling in
the Tinker case. The school board
is being sued in Federal court by
the Dallas ACLU over the deci-
sion.
But college newspapers editors
got a big boost from a Federal
court in Alabama that sided with
Garey Dickey, editor of the Troy
State College newspaper.
When Dickey proposed to criti-
cize Alabama legislators in an
editorial, his faculty adviser re-
jected the article and suggested a
substitute editorial on "raising
dogs in North Carolina." Dickey
refused the substitute and printed
only a blank space crossed by the
word "censored."
The editor was expelled from
school for "insubordination," but
the court ordered him readmitted.
It said that a school can't punish
free speech that "does not mate-
rially and substantially interfere
with requirements of appropriate
disciplne in the operation of the
school.
Copyright 1969 Dow Jones Co.

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