Protesting faculty members yesterday forced cancellation of about half the classes at the Van Ness campus of the University of the District of Columbia. But the other two campuses of the city's new public university continued to operate normally.

The striking faculty members told the D.C. City Council they feared they might lose teaching jobs and administrative positions as their campus, which used to be that of Washington Technical Institute, is merged with the city's other two public colleges, D.C. Teachers College and Federal City College.

They urged the Council to repeal or drastically amend a new law which allows the university trustees to make temporary appointments to new universitywide positions before permanent personnel policies are adopted.

However, the resolution they wanted received only eight votes at yesterday's Council meeting, one short of the required two-thirds majority for emergency legislation.

"We're very disappointed by the Council's action," said Emmanuel Chatman, dean of business and public administration at the Van Ness campus, who is heading the protest group. "Now we can expect further turbulence . . . We're not just a group of troublemakers. We're people who are legitimately concerned with our rights."

Lisle C. Carter JR., the university president, denounced the faculty strike, which started on Monday. He also issued a statement assuring the faculty that the new city law, which went into effect for 90 days last Thursday, "does not affect (their) tenure or status in the university.'

In an interview, Carter said the strike had developed because "understandable anxiety" about what will happen when the three colleges are merged "is being exploited by people who have different axes to grind."

"Some people may be upset about individual personnel decisions," Carter added, "and because of their own situation they are misleading and misinforming the community."

Despite its impact on the Van Ness campus, the strike has not been endorsed by the official faculty senate or by the union that represents professors at the campus. Faculty unions and senates at the university's other two campuses have refused to endorse the strike, but yesterday their leaders joined the strikers in lobbying City Council members to change the new law.

Several of them added that the strike developed because Carter had not consulted enough with faculty members since he took office in August.

Sidney Hall. President of the faculty union at the Mount Vernon Square campus. (formerly Federal City College) declared:

"If the administration had consupposed to, I think this wouldn't be happening today. The key issue is not whether or not (the new city law) is rescinded but whether the university is going to conduct collective bargaining."

Hall said no meetings between union officials and university representatives have been held for almost a year. TChatman said the prime example of a college administrator who has been demoted because of the merger is Elijah James, former dean of instructional resources at Washington Technical Institute and who was in charge of its library as well as some teaching programs.

Last week James' library job was placed under the authority of a new acting director of library and media services for the entire university, Albert J. Casciero, who formerly taught at City University of New York.

Yesterday James said that he believes he does not have to take orders from Casciero. He acknowledged to a university official that when Casciero came to his office last week, he told him, "You're not the only white man to come to my office today and ask me to do something."

The remark drew an official reprimand from the official, the university's acting vice president for academic affairs, Madelon D. Stent.