Vowing "onward always, backward never!" a group of Antioch Law School students yesterday completed their third day barricaded inside the dean's office and said they won't come out until they win their demands: no increase in tuition and more nonwhite faculty members.
Dean Ronald F. Pollack, who is working out of the finance office on the school's second floor, said he would not ask police to remove the students.
"I told the students I won't call the police because I think the most constructive way to handle this problem--and it is a serious problem--is through constructive discussion," Pollack said. But there was no discussion at all between the dean and the students yesterday.
A number of students who have been talking to reporters since their colleagues locked themselves inside Pollack's office Monday morning, held a news conference at which they reiterated their demands and read a note said to be from their barricaded colleagues.
"We are into our third day of missing classes, missing meals, missing appointments and missing freedom," the message stated. "We don't enjoy it but there are instances that demand the temporary surrender of these simple freedoms to demonstrate the basic concerns of the progressive community."
In response to reporters' questions, students said that those inside the dean's office had adequate food and "other facilities," including a kitchen and bathroom.
The message continued: "Antioch School of Law, particularly Ronnie Pollack, have ignored the many legitimate requests for affirmative action to hire progressive Third World persons to administrative and faculty positions and a tuition freeze."
Olivia Cano, a spokesman for the barricaded students--who have refused to reveal their names or numbers--said that first-year students decided to boycott classes yesterday in support of the protest. Pollack said he was "unaware" of how the students could do so since classes are in recess.
Cano also said that Pollack has refused to give the students a copy of the school budget--something that he had offered to do so they could see for themselves why a tuition increase was necessary.
"I told them I want to sit down with designated students and go over the budget with them, line by line, so they can understand it," Pollack said. "They've refused to designate anyone. I'm not going to circulate copies of our budget throughout the school."
According to first-year student James Yancey, the students are "now in the process of engaging someone with expertise" to examine the budget on their behalf. "I've got no problem with that," said Pollack.
Yancey insisted that "misconceptions" that the students' demands for a hiring freeze on white faculty members and senior administrators amounted to a racial issue were "patently false."
"We have a predominantly white, predominantly male faculty and we feel it's not in the best interests of our clients and our students, both of whom are predominantly black," he said. (Antioch students provide legal assistance to indigent clients in the District.)
Jackie Davis, a second-year student, said that students were disturbed to learn that their tuition was being raised from $5,070 to $5,750, while tuition at the parent Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio, was not.
Davis read a newspaper clipping quoting university President William Birenbaum as saying that he was not raising tuition generally because to do so would cut off poorer students. Davis questioned why this policy did not apply to the law school.
According to Pollack, the tuition freeze was limited to the college in Yellow Springs. "All other arms of the university," including the law school, must absorb tuition increases, Pollack said.