Michigan State News

June 6, 1970

"Strike dominates memory of Whartonís first 5 months"

by Barbara Parness

President Wharton denied Thursday that in his five months as MSUís president he has ever felt himself "up against the wall."

However, he admitted, "there have been difficult and trying days."

During these first months, Wharton has had to cope with almost every form of student and faculty confrontation a university president must eventually face. But the strike and related events this spring dominate memories of these months.

Wharton said that even if he were not a university president he would question the effectiveness of striking as a tactic.

"I donít think a strike accomplishes its objectives and even when non-violent, in this day and age, itís very likely to lead to counter-productive developments," he said.

Wharton said he is fearful about harmful effects the MSU strike could have on the question of University autonomy.

"I think the greatest danger with recent developments is that the University administration and much of the faculty has been put, by the action of students, into an adversary relationship with students," he observed.

"Universities today more than any other time in human history face a very sizable danger of severe external and punitive measures, most of which are due to the excesses of student activism and the violence attached with student activism.

"While it is a small minority of students, it significantly dominates the image of student activism. These repressive and punitive measures will be imposed from the outside, unless the University satisfactorily develops internal measures for grievance procedures, for dissent and for effective change," he said.

Wharton said that in his associations with students at MSU he has found them to be a "paradoxical" group.

"I have found the student body to be both more homogenous and more heterogeneous than I expected," he said.

"The majority of students are more homogenous, but the remainder are much more heterogeneous than I expected."

He said the "heterogeneous minority" is varied in their attitudes, concerns, outlook and orientation.

Through visits in 14 residence halls and with other student groups since January, Wharton said he has become acquainted with MSU students.

"The process of going around and visiting has given me an initial feel of what the student body is like. Iíve not been limited to the regular channels," he said.

Wharton said he would not reverse or alter any of his decisions of the past five months if he had the chance.

"I very rarely look backward. There are certain things that I am sorry did not happen though, he said.

One particular regret, Wharton said, is that ASMSU did not adopt his suggestions for pre-registration to be used for ASMSU elections and referendums.

Wharton said that if ASMSU had taken up this proposal, more students would participate in the elections. In addition, he said students could have been polled at the time on issues including ROTC, building priorities and the proposal All-Events Blg. "Maybe if we had had the referendum the, some of the apprehension and concerns of this term would have been dealt with at that time," he said.

Wharton said that the future direction of MSU is still being defined.

"I have been trying to outline some of my broad views on this in my speeches on the pluralistic university, which I hope will be considered seriously by students and faculty in the University community," he said.