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Dow Chemical Recruiter Triggers U-M Teach-In

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Dow Chemical Recruiter Triggers U-M ‘Teach-In’

The presence of a job recruiter from Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, the Defense Department’s sole source of napalm, triggered a lunch-hour “teach-in” yesterday at the University’s Law School.

Contrasting opinions on “the University, corporations, and the war,” were voiced by Richard W. Barker, assistant to the general counsel for Dow Co.; Law School Dean Francis B. Allen; and Prof. Alfred F. Conrad, and Associate Prof Joseph L Sax of the Law School faculty. They spoke to several hundred students who filled Room 100 of Hutchins Hall to capacity.

In addition, several Law School students displayed a petition condemning Dow's “contributions to the (Vietnam) war.” Law school senior Cushman D. Anthony, moderator of the “teach in,” said more than 200 signatures, including six from faculty members, have been collected since the petition began circulating last Friday in the Law School.

Dean Allen sharply criticized sponsors of the petition and the “teach-in,” who include Robert M. Weinberg, editor the Michigan Law Review.

Allen asserted: "The technique of finding a scapegoat so a political movement can be organized on the basis of shared hate is a very old technique. The 20th century has shown an example of events in connection with the use of this technique in the first third of the century and it is one I do not relish."

“Most of you are willing argue that the University is immune from invasion by the political forces of this community. You can’t have it both ways. Either this is a university or a political party.”

Sax said the scapegoat charge was unfair because the petitioners are seeking a “symbol,” in a manner comparable to opponents of racial segregation who selected the Montgomery, Ala., bus firm for boycott in 1956, and also because the motives are “right.”

Allen said he “never” attempted to stop circulation of the petition, although “I know this is understood to be the case.”

He refused any part in sending the petition to Dow officials, with a letter of disclaimer, and said such action might be regarded as an effort to speak for the entire U-M faculty and student body.

Sponsors of the petition said after the “teach-in” their activity has no connection with Students for a Democratic Society, the group which organized last Wednesday’s “sit in” in the U-M Administration Building to protest classified University research.

Barker, a 1954 U-M Law School graduate, said he recalled no comparable student protests during World War II and the Korean war. He recalled that napalm, a form of jellied gasoline used in bombs and flame-throwers, was used in those conflicts as well as in Vietnam, and asserted that its use in certain combat situations saves lives of U. S. troops.

He said the manufacture of napalm at Dow’s plant in Torrence, Calif., represents less than half of one per cent of the firm’s total production in various products, and “less than that of profits.”

Asked after the “teach-in” how much money this represents, he replied that this is classified information, but suggested the annual totals might be $6 1/2 million in production and “less than $650,000” in profit.

Echoing a statement made earlier this month by Dow President Herbert D. Doan, Barker asserted the firm will continue to provide the Defense Department with napalm as as “We believe the U. S. Government is basically a moral and ethical government, not repressive one, expressing will of the people and protecting the interests of the people. We feel it would not be proper place of a corporation to express itself on details on tactics and strategy.”

Sax urged opponents of the war to attempt to influence "the institutions of which you part,” in this case the University, because “relevant decision - making bodies are institutional. If you want to be effective you have to work through them.”

Conrad said he does not believe boards of directors of corporations should exert their views on national policies, but should respond to pressures from their customers and employes. He urged opponents of the Vietnam war to work primarily through political parties.

“We are in the embarrassing position that many of us devoted time and sweat to keeping out of the White House a madman who would have bombed North Vietnam. . . We have been swindled. We have confined our opinions to intellectual groups. We have not convinced the mass of people we have a rotten war in Vietnam,” Conrad said.