1968: Columbia in Crisis

The Protests > The Faculty Responds to the Occupation: Ad Hoc Faculty Group (AHFG)

Kirk and Truman Press Conference

Grayson Kirk and David Truman at press conference in Faculty Room of Low Memorial Library, April 25, 1968.

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After a gloomy update from Provost Truman on Thursday April 25, the faculty, who had been meeting in 301 Philosophy Hall since the day before, formed an Ad Hoc Faculty Group, to be chaired by Political Scientist Alan Westin.  Initially, the AHFG consisted of faculty members that supported three resolutions: the immediate suspension of gym construction; the establishment of a tripartite disciplinary mechanism; and a commitment by participating faculty to interpose themselves between police and students should police be called to clear the campus.

Faculty Meeting in Philosophy Hall

Meeting of faculty members in 301 Philosophy Hall.

Courtesy of Gerald S. Adler, photographer, 1968

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Throughout the remaining days of April, members of the AHFG sat down with administrators, members of the Majority Coalition and the strikers themselves in an attempt to end the standoff. They met with little success.  By April 28, the AHFG put forward a set of conditions that many referred to as "The Bitter Pill Resolutions." Drafted by five members of the AHFG steering committee - Immanuel Wallerstein, Daniel Bell, David Rothman, Robert Fogelson, and Allan Silver - these resolutions included: calling upon the students to vacate the buildings in exchange for Columbia withdrawing from IDA; the cancellation of the gym construction; the imposition of tripartite disciplinary procedures; and the provision for collective and uniform disciplinary action, intended to preclude serious reprisals against protest leaders. Both the administration and the striking students rejected the AHFG’s Bitter Pill Resolutions.

Westin and Wallerstein Press Conference

Alan Westin and Immanuel Wallerstein at press conference announcing 'bitter pill" resolutions, April 28, 1968.

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The AHFG remained acutely concerned about the possible use of police force to clear the student-occupied buildings.  Hours after the violent bust that took place on the morning of April 30, the AHFG met in McMillin Theater to vote to support a student-faculty strike called for by the Strike Steering Committee and to censure the Administration. Chair Alan Westin left the meeting rather than bring these measures to a vote. The remaining group reconstituted itself as the Independent Faculty Group and voted to support the strike of academic classes.

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