Cornell '69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University

By Donald Alexander Downs | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE DAY 5: A NEW ORDER

Barton Hall came back to life around 7:30 a.m., and the assembly discussed what students could do to affect the upcoming faculty vote. Students were urged to attend classes that were meeting (many were not) and to encourage professors to nullify. At 9:20 the gathering issued another "official release" that urged students to join the Barton Hall Community in the name of student power. "We will continue to hold Barton Hall until such time as the faculty and the administration of Cornell appropriately reconsiders the black demands. . . . All concerned students are welcome to join us in this seizure and engage in the relevant and meaningful discussions that are resulting. Barton Hall now belongs to the students--so should the University. Please join us." 1

As the morning wore on, thousands of people made the pilgrimage to Barton Hall to discuss the restructuring of the university and the elimination of institutional racism. Several professors ascended to the dais to announce their decision to vote for nullification. One observer noted, "What was significant was that these were some [faculty] members who were going to do so out of fear and lose some of their self-respect. To them, the survival of the university became more important."2 By 1:00 p.m. the crowd reached nine thousand; some came to attend the teach- in that the IFC, SDS, the AAS, and the president's office had arranged. The Barton Hall "seizure" melded with the Barton Hall teach-in to form "the crux of what has been labeled 'the spirit of Barton Hall.'" 3

Meanwhile, faculty and other students held meetings in anticipation of the faculty meeting. Three hundred students and faculty met at the Industrial and Labor Relations School; the ILR faculty was stunned to discover that the students overwhelmingly favored nullification. Once again Milton Konvitz felt despair. "The students were in no mood to listen to argument. With few exceptions they had made up their minds firmly and immovably. . . . 'If you don't do as we want, death to the

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