Is it any wonder the University of the District of Columbia failed to become the viable university its founders envisioned? In one institution, a policy of open admissions was to coexist with traditional higher education standards; effective two-year training programs were to be subsumed into mediocre four-year academic departments; and three administrative staffs and faculties were to have been merged, with no one losing his position. On top of this assortment of contradictions was to be a 15-member local board of trustees.

In the face of the recent dismissal of its third president, UDC is now facing its most serious crisis. There are those well-meaning D.C. taxpayers who are suggesting closing the university and sending qualified D.C. high school graduates to area colleges on academic scholarships. They insist that this would save money and eliminate a great drain on the District's budget. Yet, the reality is that for many of our youth not quite ready for admission to traditional institutions of higher education, UDC represents the only chance for entering the mainstream of American life.

Thus, it is heartening that UDC students are finally exerting their rights and demanding an end to the constant petty, yet destructive, bickering among the UDC board, administration and faculty. In the face of the politicians' and professionals' inability to provide leadership, the students have decided to take charge of their own educational future. They are demanding adequate facilities, a more sensitive board and an environment more conducive to post-secondary pursuits. These students have expanded their demands to include the need for a thorough evaluation of the structure and operation of UDC and a review of the appropriate roles of its constituent groups. We should all take heart from these students' demands. DWIGHT S. CROPP Washington The writer is a former vice president of UDC.