Resolves are tested

Friday April 10, 1970

At 11 a.m., the faculty held a special emergency meeting in Fondren Library, which was interrupted by the first of many bomb threats that week. The faculty released a statement which came out in support of the students. The faculty also designated two representatives to talk with the Board of Trustees about the faculty’s recommendations regarding the Hoffman crisis. According to President Frank Vandiver’s papers, the board refused to meet with the faculty representatives.

In the afternoon, the Trustees met again and reaffirmed their decision to refuse Hoffman’s engagement. They also refused to accept Vandiver’s resignation.

According to Student Association President Bob Parks, the SA Senate had been told that the university would be closed to non-members of the Rice community by the Board of Trustees during the weekend, making a legal appearance impossible. The SA met for nine hours, eventually voting to withdraw the invitation to Hoffman, with 10 voting to withdraw and one abstention. 

Parks was quoted in the Houston Chronicle, referring to the Masterson crisis and saying, “the reason we withdrew our invitation to these men is that in a similar incident last spring, we won the battle and lost the war. In this case we intend to win the war although we’ve lost the battle.” 

Parks and the SA considered legal recourse against the Board of Trustees, although they eventually decided against it, at least partly due to the prohibitive costs of legal council.

Correspondence from Parks to the legal rights desk of the National Student Association on April 17, 1970 confirms that the SA was in contact with Houston attorneys who specialized in civil rights. The letter reads "the Student Senate is now contemplating legal action against the Board of Trustees that would sue for a declaratory judgment and seek to enjoin the Rice Board of Trustees from barring a speaker except by previously established, reasonable, uniformly applied standards."

Saturday April 11, 1970

The Faculty Council unanimously approved a resolution to create a Special Presidential Commission on the Nature of the University, made of SA members, Graduate Student Association members, and faculty. The commission was charged with considering the issues brought up by the Abbie Hoffman crisis, including academic freedom and the role of the administration regarding campus speakers.


Special presidential commission letter filed by President Vandiver on April 11, 1970, commending the SA for withdrawing the Abbie Hoffman invitation and calling for the formation of a special commission to advise Vandiver on the issues raised by the crisis.