November 1,1965

Answer to list of reasons submitted by Vice President John A. Fuzak for the denial of my readmission to Michigan State University as a graduate student and as a candidate for a degree.


I have received a list of reasons for the denial of my readmission to Michigan State University for the summer term, 1965. The document, dated October 22, 1965, submitted to me in accordance with the opinion of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, by John A. Fuzak, Vice President for Student Affairs, Includes eight numbered paragraphs. I will reply to them in the same numerical order in which they have been set down by Vice-President Fuzak:

  1. I am charged with "openly and defiantly" violating a regulation prohibiting door-to-door distribution of literature in University residence halls. While the charge is unspecific with respect to time and place, I understand from previous communications with Vice President Fuzak and Eldon Nonnamaker, Dean of Students, that this charge refers to my distribution of the Committee for Student Rights (CSR) newsletter, "Logos," in Case Hall on April 23, 1965.
  2. Although I was aware on April 23 that the Faculty Committee on Student Affairs had on or about the same day recommended a new rule prohibiting the door-to-door distribution of literature in student dormitories, it was and is my understanding that the new rule would not become effective unless and until approved by University President John A. Hannah or the Board of Trustees.

    The first notice that I received that the new rule had been approved and bec ALIGN="JUSTIFY"ome effective was on May 11, 1965, some three weeks after the incident occurred, when the following information was conveyed by the "State News":

    "President John A. Hannah approved (May 10) the new printed material distribution policy in a letter to the Chairman of the Faculty Committee on Student Affairs.

    "The proposals by the Men's Halls Association and Women's Inter- resident Hall Council can now be considered official University policy, said Charles Titkemeyer, associate professor of anatomy and committee chairman."

    Until President Hannah approved the new distribution rule, the official policy of the University was to the best of my information and belief, that set forth in a letter from President Hannah to Mrs. Roy Emery, Secretary of the Lansing Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, dated February 24, 1965, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit A:

    ...The University has provided no ban or bar to the distribution of their (CSR) publications, which have been distributed through the dormitories and else-where, and it is not planned to inhibit in any way such distribution by them or by any other group."

    I deny that the new distribution rule is desirable or necessary, but regardless of my lack of sympathy with or respect for the rule, I have complied therewith since its approval by President Hannah. I have made or caused to be made no distribution of literature in the halls or the dormitories since April 23, 1965.

    My distribution of "Logos" in Case Hall on April 23, 1965, was performed in a way that would not annoy or harass the residents, by quietly sliding the pamphlets under room doors.

  3. As above stated, I violated no existing rule of the University in the distribution of "Logos" on April 23, 1965, or at any other time.
  4. I admit that I argued in the April 23, 1965, issue of "Logos," a copy of which is attached as Exhibit B, that the proposed new distribution rule was badly conceived, should be rescinded before its implementation, and that CSR opposes the rule. I deny that I "ridiculed" the rule, if such allegation be material, but instead say that my article in "Logos" was a serious effort to demonstrate the unsoundness of the rule, for the purpose of persuading the University's administration not to adopt or implement the proposed rule. I pointed out in the "Logos" article that the new rule raised First Amendment issues of freedom or press: that it inhibited communication; that it would have little effect upon the maintaining of quiet and privacy in the dormitories; and that it appeared to be directed primarily at CSR.

    My right to continue my education at the University cannot and should not be denied on the basis that I publicly disagreed with a proposed change in University policy. I don not believe that the proper functioning of the University requires that students either publicly express approval of proposed or existing rules or remain silent.

  5. I am charged with having a "defiant attitude," which even if true is not a proper basis for denying my right to continue my education at the University in the absence of improper conduct. I deny that I have a "defiant attitude" within any normal meaning of those words. Instead, my attitude is one of earnestly and scholars and teachers. This, I believe, can be done only by criticizing aspects conscientiously attempting to help improve the University as a community of of the University which need improvement and offering proposals to bring about that end.
  6. I am charged with making an "open attack" upon a "reasonable regulation." But my right to criticize the new distribution rule cannot depend upon whether that rule is "reasonable" in the view of the Administration. Although my public criticism of the rule may have encouraged others to make similar criticism, I have at no time advocated disobedience of the rule, but instead urged in "Logos" that the rule be rescinded (See Exhibit 8). Indeed, I have urged students to not violate the rule.

  7. I am charged with refusing "to recognize and abide by a regulation . . . requiring student organizations to secure recognition form the institution," and, by my conduct, encouraging other students "to disregard said regulation." It is further alleged that this rule "was essential to the orderly conduct of student affairs."
  8. I deny that CSR is or was in violation of any University rule in falling to seek or obtain "recognition." Section 13 of the regulations promulgated by the All-University Student Government, releasing to recognition of student organizations, provides only that "A defunct organization (one not chartered by Student Government) shall be considered nonexistent and shall have no rights or privileges as an organization." The University has never interpreted the "recognition" rules as prohibiting student membership in CSR or any other unrecognized group. CSR has continuously and publicly functioned since fall, 1964, and function today, yet to my knowledge no officer or member thereof has been advised by the University that he is in violation of the rules. To my knowledge, no member of CSR other than myself has ever been disciplined in any way on the basis of such association.

    I spoke to Vice President Fuzak two or three times during winter term 1965. I was never advised or informed, verbally or in writing, that, by virtue of being the editor of "Logos," I was in violation of a University regulation requiring the registration of student organizations. As shown by Exhibit A President Hannah recognized the right of CSR to function on campus without recognition.

    On information and belief, this fall at least two representatives of CSR, Gary Sommer, Executive Secretary, and Gary Sawatski, On-campus Coordinator, personally discussed with several officials of the University issues of concern to CSR, including distribution of CSR literature, but were not advised that they or CSR are in violation of any University rule.

    Even if University rules require CSR to be "recognized," I neither have nor had authority to apply for such recognition on behalf of CSR.

    The rules of the All University Student Government, if construed so as to make membership in CSR unlawful, are in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, in that they arbitrarily prohibit free association, assembly, speech and press. CSR in a loose association of students and others formed for the purposes, iner alla, of improving the climate at the University for discussion and debate of public issues improving University library facilities; improving and clarifying the rules affecting student conducts; and bringing about equal housing opportunity for all students in the East Lansing community. The right to associate for these purposes cannot be made to depend upon the approval of Student Government or the meeting of the intricate requirements of the "recognition rules" set forth at pages 2-9 of "Sparta Guide," Fall 1964 Edition, a copy of which is attached to Exhibit [sic].

    I deny that the application of the of the "recognition" rule to CSR is essential to or helpful in the orderly conduct of student affairs. If the application of the rule is to notify CSR through its offerings that it must seek recognition, rather than arbitrarily denying my readmission without prior notice that such action would or might result from membership in CSR. Such penalty is wholly unnecessary, is unduly harsh, and is discriminatory.

  9. I deny the charges that I indulged in a "defiant course of conduct" or that I have at any time attempted to discredit the University, its administration, the faculty or the student body. I object to this charge being made without specifics as to how anything I have ever done since becoming a student at the University in the fall quarter of 1963 has brought discredit to the University or any segment of the University community. If this charge relates to the charges in paragraphs 1 through 4, I deny that the distribution of "Logos" on April 23, 1965, my editorial in the April 23 issues of "Logos" criticizing the new proposed distribution rule and suggesting an alternative thereto, and my membership in an organization that has sought University recognition, have brought, or are bringing, discredit to the University.

On the contrary, my participation in CSR has had the purpose and effect of bringing credit to the University and of making the University an institution that may be held in higher repute throughout the country. I have vigorously advocated in "Logos" and elsewhere the improvement of University library service facilities; I have attacked the unreasonableness of University off campus housing rules, which through the efforts of myself and many others were modified and made more reasonable this year; I have attacked the arbitrary [sic] of discipline by University officials not based upon any clearly defined University rules or policies; I have attacked the restrictions and inhibitions upon free speech and free discussion placed by the Universities administration, such as those brought to bear upon me in this case; and I have vigorously urged that the University publicly state its support for an ordinance in East Lanising that would assure equal housing opportunities for all persons in the University community regardless of race or religion. It has been and is belief that the University has not acted with credit to itself in the aforementioned areas and that if the University changed its policies and rules in these areas, it would achieve greater status and respect in the community of universities and colleges.

To be sure, CSR has subjected both individuals and practices to criticism, feeling critical evaluation to be our inalienable right and duty. However, our aim has never been to simply ridicule and demean, but to hopefully induce the types of changes that would benefit Michigan State University - that would enable it to better fulfil the promises of an educational institution and its own stated ideals.

Perhaps it is unnecessary to belabor this point, but I think that what is "discrediting" to a University is usually a matter of opinion, and rarely a matter of incontrovertible fact. I am informed and believe that in July, the Michigan State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sent a letter to President Hannah, urging him to reconsider the decision not to readmit me. The AAUP listed three reasons for this position. One of these was that this action by the administration would hurt the academic reputation of Michigan State University throughout the country. In other words, in the opinion of the AAUP, the action taken by the administrative officials of Michigan State University had tended to discredit the University. See, also, the Statement on Faculty Responsibility for the Academic Freedom of Students," AAUP Bulletin, Autumn 1964, pp. 254-257, attached as Exhibit [sic].

I am anxious to resume by studies at Michigan State University. I wish to pursue a program leading to a Master's degree, and perhaps to a Doctoral degree. I do not wish these [sic] from a discredited institution.

I deny that "the bringing of discredit to the University" is a proper basis for the denial of my right to continue my education at the University, when the basis for such charge lies solely in the exercise of my First Amendment rights of speech, association and press on subjects of vital concern to the University, its faculty and students.