Chancellor Moudy dodges draft dodger
David Harris to speak on campus? Now
that just wouldn't do.
was fall 1971, and the chaplain to TCU's Episcopal students had scored
a coup, booking folk singer Joan Baez's husband, David Harris, for a speech
in the Student Center Ballroom. Harris, who grew up wanting to be a military
officer and attend West Point, had become instead an outspoken, articulate
critic of the Vietnam War.
Oh, and he
had just served 20 months in prison for following his beliefs. Dodging
the draft, it was called.
Pool surely saw Harris as a provocative speaker -- the speech would be a
valuable educational experience for students. But when he told Libby Proffer,
director of student activities, that he had reserved the ballroom for
a "somewhat controversial" speaker, she passed the word to Chancellor
James M. Moudy, who was not pleased and nixed the engagement.
will not knowingly host a speaker who will counsel breaking the law,"
Dr. Moudy said on behalf of the university. "In the case of the proposal
to host Mr. Harris, we have been unable to gain assurance that he will
not so counsel, and this is the reason for the decision not to schedule
him in university facilities."
House of Representatives, ceremoniously aghast,
unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Dr. Moudy's decision. The ACLU
circulated a like-minded petition, as did English professor Ann Gossman.
The student body even voted in a referendum, 994 to 171, that Harris should
be allowed to appear.
A week before
the speech was scheduled, the administration relented. Too late. Harris'
parole board stipulated that major speaking engagements be cleared 30
days prior. So he was a special guest at a dinner in Father Pool's home.
A handful of students and faculty were able to hear Harris' philosophy
on life and, of course, the draft.