Table of ContentsIntroduction: A Hard Rain Never Fell A. School Daze: The Sixties Universities B. You Say You Want A Revolution? Causes of Student Unrest C. The Civil Rights Model: Tactics For the Taking D. What the Hell Are We Fighting For: Goals and Gains of The Revolution E. Something's Happening And You Don't Know What It Is, Do You, Mr. Jones: The New University Chief Administrators F. Cha, Cha, Cha, Changes: Why the Nineties Will Not Be the Sixties On University Campuses G. Addendum: Interview With A Campus Protestor H. Bibliography
The campus unrests of the late 1960s and early 1970s loom large in the memories of both the participants and of the universities themselves. The specter of large numbers of students screaming, yelling, threatening, and even attacking members of the administration belies the entire American tradition of the college campus as a tranquil place disturbed only by the occasional panty raid and drinking party. Further, the leaders of the unrest seemed armed with ideas and demands ranging from "tearing down the campus" in an anarchical reign of terror to lengthening the hours that boys could visit the girls' dorms. Naturally, scholarly writers at the time compiled whole volumes on the so-called "revolution" on the campus.
Twenty years later, however, there's a nary a sign that these events ever occurred. The majority of the participants have become useful, conventional members of society. Campus protests have become the occupation, once more, of a relatively small number of students, divided by issue and having seemingly little effect on the students at large. Nothing, in fact, seems to have changed about the university, a fact that led one mid 1970s commentator to remark that the protest era was, for college administrators and students, merely one long "bad trip." (Baldridge, 1978, p. 269).
Students at the time certainly, however, felt something important was happening. James Kunen, a self-proclaimed Columbia student revolutionary wrote a book, the Strawberry Statement, while the events were still going, in which he proclaims the campus revolution's importance:
" These events cannot be dismissed as an overgrown panty raid, a manifestation of the vernal urge. They lasted too long; participants endured hardships, and worse, boredom, conditions through which collegiate fetishistic folly could never sustain itself." (Kunen, 1968, p. 150).
Another student participant, twenty years later, commented, similarly:
"We lived in a very special time. We picked up the world and moved it someplace. The sense of possibility the sense of anger we had then must not be forgotten."(unidentified person quoted in Frank, 1987, p. 482).
Though these events took place at the universities, there's been relatively little long consideration of their effects on the universities themselves. This deficiency is such that one scholar, Nathan Glazer, has called study of this era "a hiatus in the history American higher education." (Glazer, 1985, p.2).
This article will attempt to make an analysis of why these events occurred at this particular time and their effect on campus governance and administration. Finally, it will suggest whether similar student movements are likely to occur again.
Unlike the universities of Europe, the American universities have been relatively quiet places, little disturbed by politics and issues. European universities traditionally functioned as critics of their society. In America, the universities functioned more as servants of their society, or at least a portion of that society.
One reason for this is that, unlike in Europe, status in America was conferred not so much by class as by qualification, and universities and colleges served as the chief qualifiers through granting degrees. Hence the students in the universities functioned as largely a single class, and the professors were important tools in their assuming the values and traditions of that class. The education at the university, and all the potentially thoughts aroused by such an education, were not as important to the students as the relationships between students fostered by fraternities, sports, etc. Also most of the important American intellectuals and writers, such as Hemingway, Edison, never attended universities.
If the universities did not function as critics of societies, by the 1960s they'd also become highly diversified institutions with a confused program of goals and purposes. The American university was an exceedingly diverse institution. Its funds came from a variety of sources. Its professors became increasingly isolated from one another into departmentalized pursuit of their disciplines and, especially since World War I, research. Management of the school revolved around a complex cast of boards of regents, trustees, chancellors, faculty associations, etc. and professional administrators. While this divergency allowed a great deal of autonomy to individuals within the system, at times of crisis the American universities could react but slowly. As events would unfold, this would prove a serious handicap in dealing with the immediate problem of facing a group of protesting students, yet, ultimately, the force that would conserve the schools from much change. There was one area in which pressure could be placed on the universities for immediate change, and that was funding. A school with its students out of control risked losing funds from alumni, foundations, and other sources. Fortunately for school administrators, however, funding in the sixties was not the acute problem it would be in the nineties.
The mid-1960s, overall, gave few hints of the activities to come and the universities seemed destined to continue their leisurely process of self-evolution:
"1964 began as 1963 had ended, with high hope and great expectations. Federal, state, and private support were high, the job market excellent, the political climate favorable, and enrollments were still increasing." (Baldridge, 1978 p. 264).
In summation, then, the American University did not have an intellectual tradition of revolt or social criticism. Nor did it have any clear structure to allow criticism to move through quick, regular channels. The university did not clearly stand for anything concrete enough to be in need of change. All these factors would suggest that the kind of large scale protests that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s would never occur, and yet they did.
While the American University might seem an illogical place for any "revolutionary" activity, protests had occurred on a relatively small scale throughout their history, a trend that continues today. At Berkeley, for example, protests about political issues in the thirties and fifties formed almost a tradition of revolt (Lipset, 1969 p. 54). The same is true for Columbia and several of the other schools hardest hit by the events of the sixties.
The difference between these activities and the sixties' campus "revolutions," however, is the scope, and it is not the leaders, so often the subject of study, as that of their followers that explain the scale of the protests.
While the biographies of the leaders of these events make interesting reading, they do not markedly differ from that of their predecessors or their successors. They were largely disenfranchised intellectuals with a strong interest in one cause or another, playing out their roles on the campus stage. They spent much of their time feuding with one another, and their commitment to themselves often seemed greater than that to their commitment to their ideals. As one commentator states about Mark Rudd, a Columbia SDS leader, "he would've made a great secret police."(Tucker, 1988, p. 36). These leaders of various mindsets predated and postdated the sixties, and the fact that few have any importance in public life today suggests their quality.
More important to understanding these events, however, is studying the large number of followers willing to act along with these intellectuals, sometimes outdo them in their furor. Their numbers allowed their leaders the feelings of power necessary to demand action of the universities. These followers also took most of the punches, the arrests, and the few killings that marred the events. They gave the media the image of the campus in "revolution." The numbers appeared almost instantly across campuses in the mid-1960s and disappeared almost as quickly in the mid-1970s.
Several contemporary studies looked at the composition of these followers. While their numbers, at times, seemed to represent the entire campus, even at schools like Columbia or Berkely they never numbered more than 20% of the student body (Lipset, 1969, p. 54). A 1968 poll at troubled Berkeley showed "the majority of students were quite satisfied with their education." (Baldridge, 1978, p. 270).
It's common to attribute the protests to the issues themselves. The Vietnam War effected college age students no matter what their politics, and issues involving racial injustice effected a significant and growing section of the college population. The other issues, student governance, specific bond issues, course selection, etc. seemed to grow at erratic rates, often jumping from campus to campus and sometimes growing as corollaries of the larger racial and military issues. A group of students, for example, would mobilize to oppose the ousting of black graduate student and soon be drawn into designing a black studies course and from there end up challenging the university's right to disallow a course of any type.
The issues alone, however, cannot adequately explain all the student activity. Our society in the 90s certainly has as many problems as that of 60s starting with crime, drugs, racism, the homeless, and yet similar student movements have not arisen on the campuses. Instead the issues were merely the catalysts that the allowed the large scale release of student emotions and actions caused by a number of underlying factors.
Before examining some of the factors involved in the student unrests, it's important to single out one group whose motives and tactics do not fit into the discussions and deserve separate study: the black student protestors. One writer characterized black student protests as "activist" and white as "expressive." (Jenck, 1969, p. 68). Significant differences also appear between the followers and leaders of the black students, whose moods and tactics seemed to echo those of the larger black social movements, and those of their white fellow students. The black protest movement deserves its own study and will here be considered only as it effected the larger protests on campus.
Jacquez Barzun, a former Chancellor, blamed the protests on the big universities themselves. In becoming research institutions, they'd alienated the professors from the students, causing feelings of alienation and boredom. Lacking other interests "students try to supply the interest lacking in their qualifying studies and to make their lives 'exciting' and 'stimulating.'" (Barzun, 1967, p. 70). The more bizarre manifestations such as the youth culture Barzun ascribed to the more romantic notion of a rejection of "the whole of modern life." (Barzun, 1967, p. 74).
Another contributing factor was that the protestors came from predominantly upper middle class, liberal households. A significant number of them were of Jewish background although this doesn't seem as significant a factor because most of those Jewish households were also middle class and liberal (Lipset, 1969, 51). In the words of one Columbia student "most of the protestors came to Columbia with radicalism already in their blood." (Tucker 1988, p. 38). Indeed many parents of an arrested group of Berkeley radicals turned out to have a history of involvement with "relatively unorthodox ideas or action." (Katz, 1969, p. 398). The student protestors had been taught that society could be improved by action, and hence believed the university, their society, could be changed in a similar fashion. As part of their fairly affluent background, also, most of these students had the confidence that, given the expanding economy of the sixties, as long as they finished their degree, they could be assured of a job.
Another contributing factor to this desire to protest was a cultural change causing what one writer termed a "lengthened adolescence." (Jencks, 1968, p. 43). Jencks pointed to the media, with its nightly showing of adult issues and problems, as making youth grow out of childhood sooner, while lengthened periods before working forced them into adulthood later. Accordingly, students in college wanted desperately to be treated like adults, but, due to their dependence on their parents for money, were constantly reminded of their childhood status. Regular undergraduate class work class work did not seem to give a feeling of importance because the professors themselves treated undergraduate education as simply a diversion from the professors' "more important" goals of seeking publication. The student wanted, above all, something that their parents could no longer provide and that the university was not interested in providing: "a sense that an adult takes them seriously." (Jencks, 1968, p. 45). Protest activity, something their parents at least would consider seriously, helped fill this need. In this context, also, it's important to consider the reaction to the students' actions by graduate students and faculty.
While administrators could dismiss unruly graduate students for incompetence, dismissing them for their behavior proved more difficult and, when questionable, provided an immediate focal point for students. Also there was a shortages of graduate students making their jobs relatively secure. Undergraduates, seldom very close to professors, had a more significant relationship with these near adults:
"Graduate students possess many of the adult prerogatives to which undergraduates aspire: somewhat responsible jobs, reasonably satisfactory incomes, and the right to live where they please" (Jencks, 1968, p. 45).
Some graduate students, moreover, tended to identify with the students and provided leadership for the protests.
The teaching faculties' attitudes towards the student movements also sometimes provided support. While most faculty disapproved of the "four letter tactics" of the protesters, the liberal intellectuals, particularly of arts and science departments, often agreed with their aims. A few of the professors joined the strikes, and some even provided the intellectual underpinnings with their leftist writings (McGill, 1982, p. 71). After a strike broke out on the campus of San Francisco State University, for example, an emergency faculty meeting showed many professors giving "passionate, articulate support of the students." (Axen, 1970, p. 51). Later, when the university Chancellor was trying to suppress a student strike, the local chapter of the FTA sent its teachers to the line in sympathy. Like the leadership of the graduate students, support by teaching faculty, even if only a minority of the total, constituted adult recognition, something many of the protestors desperately wanted.
One other motivating factor that should not be overlooked is the media. In the 60s, the first generation was emerging that had grown up on television, and the protest movement allowed them to be a part of the show. An example of this is a protest at Columbia in which students agreed to surrender only after being guaranteed the television new crews would be there to take their pictures.
Another, perhaps most important, factor involved in nurturing the student protests is the fact that the students involved knew they could "get away with it." Society had always condoned a certain amount of student "mischief." As Jencks notes one of the "distinguishing features of student life is that its participants are allowed to make mistakes without paying too heavy a price." (Jencks, 1968, p. 46). As a former protestor states "You just felt so POWERFUL. You knew they couldn't arrest everyone" (Woods, see Appendix, p. 35) and confided protests made students feel they could "change things." Parents of the protestors, sharing their view that society could be changed, even while not always condoning their tactics, continued to provide the bail money and, more importantly, the tuition and money necessary to stay in school. While the most serious offenders were warned they might become "hard-core unemployable," (Kunen, 1968, p. 39), the economy continued to absorb all the college graduates and wayward Ph.Ds that the system could produce. This situation ended, dramatically, with the end of the Vietnam war and the depressions of the late 70s and 80s and the Ph.D glut.
Overall then, the universities of the 60s had a large number, though never a majority, of students exhibiting some or all of the following traits: alienation; need for adult recognition; desire to do something "right" to prove themselves; enough money to not have to work; familiarity with the media; belief in the processes of social change; and time on their hands. Further, these protestors believed, that despite any college antics and even arrests, they could still finish their degree, be accepted by polite society, and have a nice life. The issues provided the catalysts and the leaders, the malcontented idealists, but the materials were already present for a social explosion.
The leaders of the student protests took their strategies and tactics from the Civil Rights Leaders of the South and attempted to apply them to the campuses. It was not unnatural that they would do so since some students had participated in these activities, causes of rights everywhere seemed to be connected, and, at least in the early 60s, the Civil Rights movement scored a number of victories, especially in the South. Some leaders among the students even referred to students as "niggers."
Unfortunately, for white protestors, a number of differences fundamentally differentiated the two situations. First, the black leaders confronted visible enemies, whites who admitted their own prejudices, whose attitudes they could hope to change. In contrast, university professors and administrators, in their truly liberal tradition, often agreed with the protestors already. Only when an outsider seized the banner of suppresser of the students, such as S.I. Hayakawa, (Axen, 1970, p. 318), did students have someone to rally against.
Second, while King and other leaders tried to change something esoteric, the beliefs of Americans about blacks, they had a clear concrete target, at least in the South, in a series of apartheid laws. While King's followers could not always change attitudes, they could change laws and did so. In the University setting, however, students were fighting not laws, but procedures, many of them not readily attributable to any one source.
Thirdly, black leaders had a powerful ally in the Federal government, committed, on paper, to creating a just society. The authority outside the Universities, in contrast, was divided in power and scope between alumni, boards of regents, etc. Further, there was an intense fear among these outside interests that if it looked like the situation was "out of control," the governor or local mayor would step in with troops or policemen as happened so disastrously at Kent State and Berkeley. Worse, the bad publicity might lead to decreased dollars and undermine the financial well-being of the universities.
Lastly, black leaders had a shared identity with their followers and even with black opponents. Though black leaders of the mid 1960s bitterly fought about tactics, they agreed, in general, on aims. White student protestors, in contrast, seldom agreed on anything, a natural consequence of assembling some of the brightest, most highly educated, most idealistic people in the country and trying to get them to work together. A variety of national organizations, such as the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) vied with each other, factions of themselves, and local organizations such as San Francisco's TWA (Third World League) in struggles for power over the followers.
Thus, while black leaders had goals to fight for and enemies to fight against in a relatively united front (until King's death), white student activists contended with unclear enemies, goals more expressive than concrete, divisive followers, and a society often apathetic to them. Thus while the black Civil Rights movement provided an enticing model with which student leaders were familiar, change on campus would prove far more difficult and complicated than they'd anticipated.
The goals of student protests ranged widely from ending the Vietnam war to achieving longer hours of student visitation in the dorms. Given this, it's difficult to measure the long-term impact of the movement, particularly when students didn't differentiate between goals on or off campus. The writings of Kunen, the self-proclaimed revolutionary, make the mixed agenda of participants evident:
"Beyond defining what it wasn't, it is very difficulty to say with certainty what anything meant. But everything must have a meaning, and everyone is free to say what meanings are." (Kunen, 1968, p. 150).
Student protests worked most effectively on single issues. The obvious example here is Vietnam, but Vietnam itself, while gradually opposed by a majority of the population, didn't provide specific focusing power for any specific action beyond voicing opinions. Instead it was opposing the peripheral aspects of the war as they entered campus life, such as AFROTC recruiters visits, that allowed leaders to turn out large numbers of followers. Similarly, it was not racism, but the opposing the lecture cancellation of a Black Panther leader that turned out large numbers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) (McGill, 1982, p. 30).
Sometimes the universities themselves, unwittingly, provided the catalyst for action as when the University of California, Berkeley announced it would no longer allow the front of the campus for: "setting up tables, fund-raising, electioneering or recruiting, or giving speeches in support of off-campus political action." (Katz, 1969, p. 117). The student Free Speech Movement(FSM) was literally organized in the Dean's office and subsequently organized a thousand student "sit-in" after the Dean charged some of its members.
Similarly, students at Columbia voiced their criticism of racism in society by opposing the building of a gym in West Harlem. As Kunen (1968, p. 150) states self-righteously:
"At Columbia a lot of students simply did not like their school commandeering a park and they rather disapproved of their school making war, and they told other students who told others and we saw that Columbia is our school and we will have something to say for what it does."
From the above quote, it's apparent that student protests aimed not only at preventing specific events, at which protest proved effective quite effective, but also at trying to change the way in which the universities were run. Students asked for a voice in a number of areas but most persistently demands concerned three areas: course selection and content, regulations about student life, and student involvement in governance.
Course selection grew out student perceptions that courses weren't "relevant" to the problems of the day. Naturally, the suggested alternatives grew in the areas in which student protestors tended to major, the arts and humanities. Courses such as "learning how to sit," "Zen Buddhism," and "urban guerrilla tactics," (McGill, 1982, p. 24) appealed to these student followers. Naturally, however, these did not appeal to the boards of regents, conservative faculty members, etc. When these administrative forces possessed and exercised a clear right of veto or sole power of course rejection, naturally student protests followed. The universities responded and "changes in teaching programs and governance was impressive... Requirements fell almost everywhere." (Glazer, 1985, p. 3). In the view of some critics this ultimately worked to the harm of the students:
"Since no one was reading Plato or Aquinas...college graduates are left to discuss 'sports, sex, and other forms of consumerism.'" (Williams, 1988, p. 32).
By the 1980s, the trend had returned towards tightening academic requirements again. Still, the protestors had set the precedent that the course offerings and programs would have to make some accommodation with student needs and desires.
A second area of student interest was in the loosening of University control over student private lives. Partly, this resulted from the so-called "sexual revolution" occurring across America. In loosening these paternal regulations, students experienced perhaps the highest degree of success because there were clear-cut goals, changing rules, and clear-cut enemies, those who enforce them. The student success in this area, however, is partly a reflection of the fact that these rules were not being honored anyway; by lengthening dorm visitation hours and similar moves universities were simply "cutting their losses." Court battle subsequently established that students involved in university discipline were entitled to adult due process rights. (Brubaker, 1976, p. 351). This left the universities as a kind of "open forum" for free expression, something they'd always been, in theory, but clever administrators would find ways of confining student expression to less visible forms than in the sixties.
A third area of student interest was in student government. Protestors "wanted in" on such matters as choice of curriculum content, promotion and dismissal of faculty, and determination of parietal rules (Brubaker, 1982, p. 351). Most major universities in the eighties possessed some student representatives on governing boards although interest in actually running the universities soon waned. (Williams, 1988, p. 32).
When the sudden student interest in the University's governance began, it avoided the traditional channels of student government. Students perceived that the student governmental organs existed to give field experience to political science students and to fill a page in the college catalog. They reacted by putting physical presence to work by occupying administrative offices, lying down in lecture halls, etc. and refusing to leave voluntarily. Their forced removal would, naturally, bring the police or security on campus and allow the media to hear their demands. Often, these demands consisted of just being heard.
Such tactics left some university administrators at a loss. Fearful of police on campus or that others would perceive they'd "lost authority," they tried a whole range of strategies to try to get students out of their obstructing ways. Some writers called these students tactics "a threat to academic freedom" because the protestors relied on "simple intimidation" (Glazer, 1985, p. 2). The fact was, however, the students perceived that the only way the school administration was free was that the administration was free from student input and likely to remain so.
The push to "liberate" student government, then, was pursued outside the normal channels of school operations, and this ultimately weakened its long-term effect. If the students "struck" for a single issue and won, they still did not attain a permanent voice in campus decisions. In order to obtain another positive decision, they had to "strike" again, and for most leaders this meant reassembling a fragile conglomeration of supporters and allies about whose long-term commitment the leader would have doubt. Further, it meant that student government remained largely impotent and that, in the eighties and nineties, when such demonstrations of students was no longer possible, protest also lost its power to influence university government.
What protest tactics gave students, then, was an irregular voice in the administration of the university. As time passed, also, this voice of the students would take almost a ritualistic quality. As one critic of the movement writes: "It is now taken for granted that the American campus is a center of criticism of U.S. foreign and military policy." (Vallela, 1988, p. 10). Events such as protesting against the Gulf War could be expected and anticipated on most campuses as it could be taken for granted that an extremely volatile issue, pursued in the least competent manner by school official, could bring any kind of student reaction. Thus one of the key elements that made sixties protests effective, that of surprise, faded away. If in the sixties students protested both to be heard and for the school to react, by the nineties they were largely being heard only.
The long term legacy of the student protests then is a mixed set of results. On the one hand, the students did help end the Vietnam War and settle, to their satisfaction, such largely symbolic matters as not allowing Columbia to build its gym. Universities would also prove more responsive to student desires for a more student generated curriculum and less restrictive student rules. On the other hand, the sixties protestors established an irregular channel for expressing their opinions and changing their schools, a channel that would take massive numbers of voices in order for the universities to hear.
One long-term legacy of the student revolt was its alterations of university administration. Administrators, especially presidents and chancellors, faced a considerable challenge. They had students occupying buildings. They feared police coming onto the campus, and yet they feared others would think they'd lost authority. They had student demands, usually "non-negotiable," about items of governance, course selection, and lifestyles, and they faced possible faculty alliances with students. When they wished to make decisions about the issues at hand, they had complex, often ancient procedures to follow. They reacted in a number of ways that were more or less effective and the survivors introduced a new style of management to the universities.
Probably the least effect method of reacting was the one advocated by then California Governor Ronald Reagan: restore authority by force. Some chancellors resorted to this in desperation. When the troops or police moved in, this provided a media event of the first order. Besides this, the presence of an armed enemy allowed campus leaders a visible opponent and justifications for reprisals. A short order protest naturally lengthened into a battle of wills played out on a television screen. S.I. Hayakawa, at San Francsico University, governing a new school, with relatively few rules to follow, quickly established a reign of force. The resulting student strike lasted six weeks and the faculty supportive strike lasted a month. Besides the casualties, nothing of consequence happened. In the words of one critic a "a democratic academic community became transformed into an authoritarian, management run college" (Axen, 1970, p. 318).
The opposite position of Hayakawa's, was taken by his predecessor, Smith. Smith had considerable sympathy with the striking students and tried hard to work out compromises. Unfortunately, Smith tried to take the burden of negotiating on himself when he did not really have the authority and, again, provided himself as an enemy to the students who accused him of "selling out." Smith's weakness, also, encouraged students to push for more until the more conservative forces, the California Board of Regents, demanded his removal, a fate suffered by many chancellors and presidents in this period. Smith's predecessor, for example, was given "an ultimatum coming from Chancellor Dumke himself...if the college did not move on the students that day, new administrators would come in the next day." (Axen, 1970, p. 115).
The best strategy for handling this kind of student movement proved to be that exemplified William McGill, and others, who handled potentially explosive situations at the University of San Diego and later Columbia in a manner that confounded the students again and again though in his own book (1982) McGill is not always aware of why his tactics work.
The Chancellor provided himself as a target, freely walking out to groups of students and "rapping" with them. Several times, in his career, he emptied "occupied" buildings simply by his presence outside. Once he'd gathered the students, he'd tell them, in a very forceful manner, that, though he sympathized with their demands, he had no control whatsoever over most of the decisions that they wished him to make. Another version of the same tactic seemed to work with Board of Regents also.
As McGill remarked about the University:
"Actually our rules were predicated on universal acceptance and were very fragile. The structure of the rules crumbled as when it came up against a Civil Rights style protest." (McGill, 1989, p. 69)
One example of this positive avoidance is exemplified by McGill's handling of one of one Professor Marcuse, one of the key intellectuals cited by student revolutionaries and an academic not above making inflammatory speeches encouraging protest. The Regents wanted Marcuse out, and the students wanted him to stay. When it came time to renew the Professor's contract, McGill referred the matter to a faculty committee, all prestigiously qualified and beyond reproach. The Blue Ribbon committee gave Marcuse a renewal based, not on his politics, but on his work. Several times the Chancellor ended strikes in favor of Marcuse by saying faculty evaluation was not really his affair (McGill, 1989, 91).
This novel approach of forceful avoidance serves to illustrate why the campus protests often produced no important results. The student protesters wanted action, as the Doors song says "We want the world, And we want it now!" (Doors, 1968). To the majority of them, however, action and expression remained almost synonyms. The followers equated the protest itself, not the following action, with "doing something," and even if protest petered out, they'd feel partly satisfied that they'd at least tried. They'd tried to remake the world, as their parents had taught them to do, but "the system" had foiled them. Most protests tended to take place during peak daylight hours and in public places; over the long haul of a week-long strike, however, protestors faded away as students returned to studying and living, leaving the hard-core radicals to their own devices. As one former protestor notes, "When it rained, nobody came." (Woods, 1991, see Addendum, p. 35).
The university chancellors and presidents that survived knew that time was on their side. As McGill noted about the universities "the schedule on which great decisions were made was comfortably slow." (McGill, 1989, p. 157). The university would take time to go through its usual procedures on such matters as faculty rehire, course creation, and the motions of student government. As long as the students, and anxious regents or news commentators, could be dissuaded to let these processes take place, memories would fade, student allies drift away, and an acceptable version of whatever change the students proposed could be presented or the entire matter forgotten. This is how the proposed Lumbaba-Zapata "revolutionary college" at University of San Diego became the Third College, an entity whose curriculum could as easily have been presented by conservative faculty members as by radical, protesting students. (McGill, 1982, p. 124).
The successful chancellors and presidents also knew how to concede. In such a situation as the "People's Park" in San Francisco, the only choices apparently available were to make it open to the public or not open. When Berkeley's administration decided to close this area to the street people and students in order to build, this naturally touched off open conflict. A following administration, however, conceived of the novel plan of giving the park away to the City, thus ridding the school of the problem. Similarly, when student leaders called for a strike at UCSD in sympathy for a student injured at Berkeley, Chancellor McGill "gave in" by allowing them to use the central outside area between the main university buildings. This area made for natural cinema coverage, but it also freed the 80% who wanted to attend class from being prevented by the grieving minority. By giving in on specific requests, or appearing to do so, again, the chancellors and presidents made no permanent changes to the way the college is run or administered. For the next "event" the campus leaders would have to start all over again and assembly a new body of followers.
The new university administrator, partly a product of the protests, was primarily an administrator, not primarily of the university. As Glazer comments about chancellors and presidents, "the student revolt taught us how important they were. It taught them to be cautions, to consult widely, to get advice." (Glazer, 1989, p. 5). The new college administrator knew how to prevent a minor protest from erupting into a media event and how to deal with disruptions and difficult situations. This would prove valuable training for economic struggles of the seventies.
The foregoing discussion should make it clear that sixties style student protest will not recur in the nineties.
Tony Vallela's recent book, New Voices,(1988) illustrates the reasons protests will not become prevalent in the 1990s. The slender volume details every protest activity across the country, and about half the book consists of prescriptions about how to create protest rather than descriptions of those underway. There are reasons why such a book show be so small and why mass campus protest is, in the future, unlikely.
First, the students of the 90s are far different from their predecessors despite often being their children. The Watergate era and resulting scandals have lessened most youth's belief that the world can be changed for the better by any large institution. Further, the students' main interest in the university is limited, in the era of decreasing expectations, to attending, to getting credentials, and to obtaining job preparation. Their time spent earning the money for their education, particularly among the middle class youth, will limit their time to participate in non-curricular activities. While there will still be the affluent parent who proclaims, "'I'm a stockbroker, but I'm still alienated. I hate the establishment." (Paul Kay quoted in Tucker, 1988, p. 36), parental financial support for such activities will be waning.
Yet their will still be, as there are now, a small minority present on campus trying to recruit students in protests. There are still Teach-Ins at Berkeley (Valhalla, 1988, p. 58). There are marches against apartheid in South Africa and even protests against the Gulf War.
The few protests that have occurred demonstrate how well the process is controlled and understood by the university administrations. First, such protests have been against other countries (Nicaragua and South Africa) and issues conveniently distant from the campus. Second, protestors have actually applied for permits and permission to do such activities. Third, protestors have eschewed the tactics of aggression used by their predecessors. They have done all these things because they most fear, not failure, but anything that will sully their records and hinder their chances of getting a job. As one protestor proudly said: "we went through the university processes, tried to get them to put forth a resolution...we were never undisciplined in public." (Vallela, 1988, p. 27). The head of one of the Berkeley student unions summed up the situation by saying:
"People have no time to put in to protests. Most of the students have to spend their time working, rather than doing progressive movements." (Vallela, 1988, p. 58).
The lengthened adolescence of the sixties university students has largely disappeared. Work and the worrying about future work have replaced protest as the "adult activities" pursued by undergraduates. With no assurances about the future, or even graduation, work and study seem real and adult enough and consume most of the students' time and energy. Significantly the head of the Berkeley Student Union stated that the only major protest that occurred during his freshman year concerned tuition hikes. (Vallela, 1988, p. 58).
In a sense then, even protest has become another procedure, just another of the many pursued by the university. Professors continue to research and write, graduate students worriedly try to publish to secure employment, boards of regents agonize over budgets, and students worry about their paychecks and tuition, and a small minority ritualistically protest about issues conveniently distant from university lives and financial structures. This leaves only the fiftiesh, financially secure, alumni from that special time to listen to old Bob Dylan records and recall when it seemed that "the times were a-changing." (Dylan, 1963).
The clouds that had produced so much thunder and a few claps of lightening had dissipated. All the efforts of the nineties rain-makers could coax no more than a warm midst that just clears away the humidity on a tensifying, stuffy day. Most of the angry clouds had come and gone and only washed away a bit of the universities and drowned a few careers. The hard rain never fell.
Mr. Fruit: Exactly how did you get involved in the demonstration.
MS. Trees: There were fliers everywhere around I University. People were out in the streets. I believed in it.
Mr. Fruit: Who was your leader?
MS. Trees: Well, it was just a mass protest.
Mr. Fruit: Why was there the demonstration.
MS. Trees: It was a mass protest, one day a week for weeks in the '69-'70 school year. They shut down the school three weeks early. They said, "no grades if you go home," but everybody did anyway.
Mr. Fruit: How many people were involved?
MS. Trees: There were between 10,000 and 20,000 at its height. Most were during the day, but one was by candlelight. They were more like rallies than protests.
Mr. Fruit: What long-term changes did the actions have on the school itself?
MS. Trees: Short term they closed the school down. I wasn't aware of any long term. Eventually the ROTC requirement was dropped.
Mr. Fruit: How do you feel being involved in such activities has effected you, or has it.
MS. Trees: Yeah, I recognized I had the power to make things happen. Also I realized how fickle people were. When it rained, nobody came. We knew that what we were doing was happening across the country. If it'd just been our campus, it couldn't have happened. We were carried along by this mass movement.
Mr. Fruit: Looking back, from the advantage of hindsight, why do you think that students got involved?
MS.Trees: Partly because of the group psychology of being "part of something." You just felt so POWERFUL. Then there was the group identify. Before students felt relatively powerless, but you knew they couldn't arrest everyone and fail everyone, so there was this feeling of being powerful as a group.
Mr. Fruit: What would you think if your child were arrested for a similar protest.
MS. Trees: The only protests I was in were anti-war. I'd worry about the consequences more. If it were the same kind of situation, I think I'd be sympathetic.
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