Crowd turns out to hear student committee’s report on dismissal

Emily Schooley

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Wednesday, March 19, 1969.

Approximately 150 students and several faculty members gathered in the Forum Room of the student union Thursday to hear a press conference of the Committee for Student Awareness on the subject of the dismissal of Washburn sociology professor John Doggette.

Marcia Heil, Phil Harley and Jo Howe led the conference, explaining the committee’s actions and issues involved in the controversy over the dismissal.

John Doggette, Harley said, is a “symbol of faculty and student freedom.”

Actions of the committee so far have included a letter the the REVIEW, stories in the Topeka Journal, a petition and meetings of Harley and Dr. John W. Henderson, president of the university; the chairman of the Alumni Assn. and a member of the Board of Trustees.

“We wanted a chance to tap and make our position know,” Harley explained.

He also pointed out that the Faculty Senate passed a 4 to 1 resolution for the renewal of Doggette’s contract.

David O’ Brien, political science professor, explained that the senate passed the resolution for two reasons.

The first reason is that since Doggette had the support of his department chairman and department professors, his non-renewal violated the 1966 AAUP (American Assn. of University Professors) statement of government of universities and colleges. O’Brien stated that he believed this statement is subscribed to by an organization of which Henderson is a member.

The second reason, O’Brien said, was that “the senate felt he (Doggette) had been dismissed for reasons of his distribution of “Student as Niggerr” and that this was a violation of academic freedom.

A re-hearing before the Board of regents is hoped for by members of the committee. The next Board meeting is scheduled for March 20. (1969)

Jo said that one issue arising from the dismissal is “that of the evaluation system in respect to members of the faculty. We feel that the evaluation of an instructor should be left up to his students, his department head, and his co-workers in his particular department.”

She emphasized that “we are constructively concerned with the welfare of Washburn University,” and added that “at no point have we…advocated any means of change except through the system. If any kind of harassment has been directed at President Henderson and members of his family, we are deeply concerned as this is not what we feel our purpose and our aim to be.”

Another issue involved, she said, concerned the goal of education.

“Ideally, the goal of education should not be just that of preparing a student of a job per se, but also that of preparing him for life. The aim of higher education, or one of the, would be to instill in the student that ability to make objective decision. The only way that objective decisions can ever by made by the student…is if the student is presented with all sides of an issues. We feel that John Doggette has done this through the article “The Student as Nigger.”

Dennis Pierce of the Student Goals committee, read a statement of that organization endorsing the Committee for Student Awareness. “We have confidence in this group because to this point they have worked for a change through the legitimate channels of the university,” he said.

Continuing, Pierce said that “we feel it is important that students accept the responsibility of involvement in issues which affect their academic environment.”

In a question-and-answer session, Harley said that he believes Doggette’s class procedures and his introduction of the paper “The Student as Nigger” in his class was one factor in the professor’s dismissal, “although he (Doggette) never read it.”

Harley added that Henderson has his support as president of the university. “He acted,” Harley said, “within the by-laws of the university and didn’t break the rules.”