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Norman Fails To Shake Classified Research Foes

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Norman Fails To Shake Classified Research Foes

By Roy Reynolds

A. Geoffrey Norman, U-M vice-president for research, attended most of the six-hour “sit in” held yesterday afternoon in the University’s Administration Building, but did not succeed in ending organized opposition to classified research at the U-M.

The demonstration began at 1 p.m. with about 300 participants and climaxed with reading of a demand for an end to classified (secret) U-M research to about 70 participants still present shortly before 5 p.m.

Organizers of the “sit in” are members of Voice, the U-M chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Not all Voice members are enrolled as U-M students, but most “sit in” participants were students and faculty members.

At the beginning of the demonstration, Norman urged his audience not to be “too simple-minded” in assuming that basic scientific research with military applications has no other applications. He asserted:

"To the best of my knowledge, we’re not engaged in any research in weapons development. I know of no campus where this kind of work is being done. My answer to you absolutely honest.”

He said the U-M presently holds 1,700 research contracts from private foundations such as the Michigan Heart Association as well as the Defense Department.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Richard Gordon of Voice read a statement defending the “sit in” and a list of demands to an audience of about 75 grouped around Norman in the Administration Building lobby.

The statement and demands ere composed by a steering committee made up mostly of Voice members, nominated early in the demonstration by Mark E. Schreiber of Voice, a junior in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

Gordon appeared to be the only “sit-in” leader not enrolled as a U-M student. Eric Chester of Voice, a leader in Voice’s project against classified research, is a graduate student in economics. Also prominent at the “sit in” was Samuel R. Friedman, a U-M graduate student in sociology.

The demands were slightly revised before approval by a vote of about 60 at 6 p.m. The final version, provided by Karen Daenzer of Voice, a sophomore in Literature, Science and the Arts, and Schreiber, calls for:

—"Immediate termination of the University’s counter-insurgency project in Thailand;

—“Withdrawal of (U-M) membership from the Institute for Defense Analysis;

—“End of all classified search by the University of Michigan; all present contracts phased out or not renewed, and no new contracts accepted;

—“Publication of all present and future University contracts, their purposes and subsequent research results;

—“Establishment of a joint faculty-student-administration committee to determine the future status of the Willow Run installation;

—“Establishment of a student - faculty committee to investigate and establish broad outlines for future U-M research contracts.”

Bruce Kahn, president of U-M Student Government Council, said at the “sit in” he believes many participants in the demonstration would be satisfied by formation of a student-faculty committee on research policy, even if it did not lead to policy changes.

During a question-and-answer session at which Norman was present, Prof. Anatol Rapoport said: “Secrecy is a denial of the basic purpose of a university, which is to disseminate information, not suppress it.” His comment drew a long ovation from other “sit in” participants.

Prof. William G. Dow, retired chairman of the U-M electrical engineering department, replied that he is proud of his contributions to U. S. defense.

Dow later made the same comment to a group of about 20 students who gathered about him to debate. Dow asked one: "Who the hell are you that you should know about all this research?” The reply was: "I'm a human being.”

Dow acknowledged that the debater was undoubtedly correct in asserting that potential enemies probably know "more than I can find out” about research at the U-M.

However, Dow said secrecy can still serve national security. He recalled that during World War II, both the U. S. and Germany were aware bombers could confuse radar observers by dropping metal foil, but both hesitated long in using the technique for fear of provoking the other.

Richard L. Cutler, U-M vice-president for student affairs, passed through the lobby at 4:30 p.m. and called the “sit in” much smaller and quieter than a similar demonstration December. “I never saw more than 120 people here,” he added. However, some who were in the lobby at 1 p.m. spent most of the afternoon sitting in hallways adjoining the offices of Norman, President Harlan H. Hatcher and Allan F. Smith, vice-president for academic affairs. Some entered offices.

A group of about 30 remaining at 7 p.m. voted not to stay all night.

In accordance with a vote at 1 p.m., the entire “sit in” was “nondisruptive,” in the sense that halls and doorways were not blocked.