U T and Larry Caroline Austin Academic freedom was given an examination at the University of Texas last week, but there was disagreement over whether it passed or failed. The main question was: Should a budget council evaluating a faculty member’s performance take into consideration the member’s off-campus activities? Since the professor in question was Larry Caroline, a philosopher who advocates a second American revolution, the question was unusually difficult. The philosophy department’s budget council answered with a distinction that only philosophers might make. As Dr. Robert Palter, a council member among the minority who voted to retain Caroline, explained at a forum held by the Students for a Democratic Society, “What is relevant is not his political views but what those views can tell us about him as a political philosopher …. Some members of the budget council considered Larry’s utterances more important than I did. If they used his speeches as evidence of his political philosophy, I think that was all right. If they used Larry’s political utterances as evidence of political beliefs, that’s improper.” Dr. Edmund L. Pincoffs, another member of the council and a former member of the national council of the American Association of University Professors, said the Caroline case involved a very delicate issue of academic freedom. “I believe it is necessary to judge his public as well as his private [in class] discussions, but to judge them only in terms of his competence as a political philosopher. I believe this is a very hard judgment to make, but I believe it has to be made.” Caroline disagreed. “Academic freedom must be absolute,” he argued at the SDS forum. “Nothing outside the class or colloquy should be taken into consideration …. precisely because of what has happened at the University of Texas this year.” On May 11 the budget council voted seven to six not to renew Caroline’s contract. Palter said the council evaluated Caroline on the basis of his teaching ability, his philosophical ability both demonstrated and potential, informal conversations he conducted with students and colleagues outside of the classroom and the content of his off-campus statements. Caroline’s teaching ability was not in question, budget council members say, terming his teaching “excellent.” One council member said he voted against Caroline mainly because he has not finished his doctoral dissertation. Dr. John Silber, dean of the college of arts and sciences and a member of the budget council, said he became disenchanted with Caroline because of the way Caroline handled a young Student Non-violent 4 The Texas Observer Coordinating Committee activist under his tutelage. But the main budget council criticism centered around Caroline’s outof-class speeches. THE 28-YEAR-OLD professor first came under public scrutiny last fall during an Austin peace rally on the steps of the Capitol. Caroline reconstructed his October speech this way: “I began by saying I would not take much time of my listeners, because I did not believe they should be there in the first place. I said that people who wanted to end the war, people who joined peace movements, were misdirecting their energies. I said it was a mistake to believe that you could change society one aspect at a time. Either you change everything or you change nothing. ‘The whole bloody thing has to go.’ I went on to discuss some of the problems which America faces. I said that no significant progress has been made in this country on behalf of the black people. I said that the way to get American boys out of Vietnam is the same as the way to end discrimination, to end poverty, to end exploitation, to end the suppression of the people of Bolivia and Thailand and other places. I said that we could not end the war in Vietnam without solving all these and many other problems …. After the speech the AP reporter got my name straight, and asked me if I meant a bloody revolution. I replied that I didn’t see why it would have to be bloody. He then asked me what form it would take if it was not bloody, and I replied I did not knowthat was why people had to think hard about it.” The speech was reported in many Texas newspapers and was the subject of a number of irate editorials. Regents Chairman Frank Erwin Jr., contacted by the Houston Post, commented, “If [Caroline] said what he is reported to have said, I’m absolutely outraged that any teaching employee of the University would do such a thing and I’m going to do something about it.” The regents have not acted concerning Caroline. University President Norman Hackerman addressed some policy questions to the university committee of counsel on academic freedom and responsibility shortly after Caroline’s headlinemaking speech. “One thing I asked was while a faculty member has a right to oppose the administration, what right does the university have,” Hackerman told the Observer. He said he mentioned Caroline by name in the letter to the committee but that he did not ask for an investigation of Caroline as the press reported at the time. The committee answered Hackerman’s questions in general terms, pointing out, “our mission is not to determine whether a particular faculty member has so conducted himself as to entitle the university to censure or dismiss him or whether a budget council or administration has acted improperly in a particular case.” Hackerman forwarded the committee’s report to the board of regents, where it is still under consideration. Dr. Silber responded quickly to Caroline’s speech. In a statement printed in the Rag, Austin’s radical underground weekly, Silber said “his speech was characterized by an appalling lack of cogent argument and respect for facts and by appallingly bad rhetoric … Larry Caroline is an intelligent and high-minded young man. But when he looked into that large crowd he was apparently transformed by it into the kind of demagogue he would normally abhor. He spoke like a demagogue and the crowd responded like a mob … Sure Caroline had the right to speak. But he does not have the right to be respected or honored for the speech he gave. The worst feature of his speech is this: It is another powerful contribution to anti-intellectualism. It hurts the cause of rational discourse on foreign affairs to which Caroline is personally and professionally dedicated.” Caroline continued to make public statements, including a speech at the RagObserver conference March 15. As faculty sponsor for the university chapter of the SDS, Caroline participated in SDS activities and carried a picket sign at a recent demonstration at a local service station. His contract first came up for discussion at a budget council meeting May 7. At that time the council was unable to get a majority either to give him a terminal contract to to give him an open contract which would have allowed him to teach for at least another two years. The council met again May 11 at which time a majority voted to give him a terminal contract, which means Caroline, an assistant professor, has one more year to teach; under UT rules, a professor must be given at least a year’s notice before his contract is dropped. In a statement printed in the Rag after the council’s decision, Caroline said in part: “The decision of the budget council of the philosophy department is due to a complex of factors, only some of which are obviously political … But certain things seem clear to me: “Silber’s participation in the deliberations and voting of the budget council, while also playing the role of dean, seems to me totally indefensible; he ought to have been challenged on this point by the other members of the budget council. “Whatever the complex of reasons and emotions were which brought the budget council to its decision, I cannot believe they were good reasons. No one in the department has ever expressed to me any question about my teaching ability or my philosophical competence. I cannot help but conclude that emotional and political factors were the decisive ones. “That academic freedom is a laughable
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