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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 4 (Feb. 1969)

"The scholar must be free",   pp. 22-23


Page 22


               eel know no safe de-
pository of the ultimate powers of the
society but the people themselves; and
if we think them not enlightened
e/nough to exercise their control with
a wholesome discretion, the remedy is
not to take it from them hut to inform
their discretion."
           -THOMAS JEFFERSON
  The spirit of Jeffersonian democracy
is an integral part of those institutions
which have been responsible for the
evolution of our society. Certainly it
can be found in the University of Wis-
consin.
   Wisconsin always has been a uni-
versity of the people. It derives its
strength from the fact that the people
of Wisconsin have been willing to
support it and to participate in its
governance for the past 120 years.
  The legal basis for the establish-
ment and maintenance of the Univer-
sity and its several departments is
Chapter 36 of the Wisconsin State
Statutes which declares, in its opening
paragraph: "There is established in
this state at the city of Madison an in-
stitution of learning by the name and
style of 'The University of Wiscon-
sin.' "
   The key word in that declaration
could well be "style", for it is the
Wisconsin style, established over dec-
ades of creative tradition, that has
come to set the University apart from
other universities. "The Wisconsin
Idea", for example, is not just a
catch phrase; it is an expression of
educational philosophy-an under-
standing that a university flourishes
only when it is able to serve the peo-
ple who nourish its development.
   While Chapter 36 explains the
organization and structure of the Uni-
versity, it also outlines the purpose of
the University and delineates the
power of the various groups who are
responsible for its proper manage-
ment.
   "The object of the University," the
chapter says, "shall be to provide the
means of acquiring a thorough knowl-
22
edge of the various branches of learn-
ing connected with literary, scientific,
industrial and professional pursuits."
  Who runs the University? The
statute is quite clear: the regents "shall
possess all the powers necessary or
convenient to accomplish the objects
and perform the duties prescribed by
law, and shall have the custody of the
books, records, buildings, and all other
property of said university." However,
their main concern is to "encourage
scientific investigation and productive
scholarship, and create conditions
tending to that end."
  It is because of the immensity of
that assignment that the regents have
customarily delegated a portion of
their authority. Chapter 36 takes this
into account on two points-the Presi-
dent of the University "shall have
authority, subject to the Board of.Re-
gents, to give general direction to the
instruction and scientific investigations
of the several colleges . . ." and "the
immediate government of the several
colleges shall be intrusted to their re-
spective faculties . . ." But even in
this latter case, there is a disclaimer
which says that the regents "may regu-
late the courses of instruction and
prescribe the books or works to be
used in the several courses."
  While all power for the regulation
of the University legally resides with
the regents, that power has always
been in fact tempered by the various
other groups who comprise the Uni-
versity community. As Regent Presi-
dent Charles D. Gelatt observed a
year ago, "The enormous and chal-
lenging role of a regent is to channel
the varied and magnificent power of
the faculty, of the students, of the
state and federal governments, and of
alumni groups-to channel all of this
power, combined with all of the wis-
dom he can muster, the funds he can
command, and the vigor he can mount,
and direct it toward building and
strengthening the University."
  As a supplement to the state laws
which regulate the University, the re-
gents have their own bylaws, further
defining University government.
  A significant updating of those by-
laws was adopted in July, 1968. The
impetus for this stems from    several
court tests challenging the University's
right to discipline students. The most
recent example came when Federal
Judge James E. Doyle ,ruled last De-
cember that the University did not
have the authority to discipline stu-
dents solely on the basis of miscon-
duct.
   The judge further declared uncon-
stitutional what he called the "vague-
ness" and "overbreadth" of a Univer-
sity regulation which said: "Students
have the right, accorded to all persons
by the Constitution, of freedom of
speech, peaceable assembly, petition
and association. Students and student
organizations may examine and dis-
cuss all questions of interest to them,
and express opinions publicly as well
as privately. They may support causes
by lawful means which do not disrupt
the operations of the University, or
organizations accorded the use of Uni-
versity facilities."
  In his decision, Judge Doyle noted:
"Historically, universities and colleges
and schools, both public and private,
have enjoyed wide latitude in student
discipline. . . . In recent years, how-
ever, courts have been increasingly dis-
posed to intervene in school disci-
plinary situations involving major
sanctions. This has been most marked
when intervention has appeared neces-
sary to assure that procedural due
process is observed; for example,
specification of charges, notice of
hearing, and hearing."
  The need to make clear and consti-
tutional the University's rules govern-
ing student discipline prompted the
redrafting of the Regent By-Laws,
specifically Chapter V which deals
with student discipline. The new re-
gent rules recognize that "it is essen-
tial that a university be able to main-
tain the order and decorum necessary
for it to fulfill its functions; and obli-
Wisconsin Alumnus
I
    "THE SCHOLAR MUST BE FREE"
So say our faculty regulations and so say faculty and regent alike about
the students-within limits-
                based on Wisconsin spirit, traditions and, incidentally,
the federal courts.


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