[sixties-l] Fwd: Free Speech Movement at UC-Berkeley a Legacy Echoed by Many

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 11/22/00

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] Fwd: Hactivism and Soul Power"

    >Free Speech Movement at UC-Berkeley a legacy echoed by many
    >November 14, 2000
    >By Gretchen Adelson
    >Daily Californian
    >U. California-Berkeley
    >(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. -- Protest, activism,
    >demonstration -- for the past several decades, many people
    >have associated University of California at Berkeley with
    >these words.
    >The Free Speech Movement, which engulfed the campus from the
    >fall of 1964 to the spring of 1965, was undoubtedly a
    >precipitating factor of the political activism that would
    >characterize the city and the university for years to come.
    >Led by legendary figures such as Mario Savio and Jack
    >Weinberg, the movement was just the beginning of a wave of
    >revolutionary protests that swept college campuses
    >throughout the nation during the 1960s. More than 30 years
    >later, many still consider the events that took place at UC
    >Berkeley to be the cornerstones of the movement toward
    >political activism that highlighted the 1960s and changed
    >college campus life perpetually.
    >On Sept. 16, 1964, presidents and chairs of student
    >organizations received the infamous letter from Dean
    >Katherine Towle stating that, effective Sept. 21,
    >information and registration tables would no longer be
    >permitted on the 26-foot strip at Bancroft Way and Telegraph
    >Avenue. Furthermore, the university banned literature and
    >activities concerning off-campus political action. The
    >letter provoked the outrage of UC Berkeley students and,
    >many believe, set off the movement.
    >"From the beginning of the increase of student activism, the
    >administration sought ways to contain it and diminish it,"
    >says Michael Rossman, who was a graduate student at the time
    >and currently edits a Web site that archives the movement.
    >"It was about a six-year history of curtailment of what
    >students could do on campus."
    >The political activism that invaded UC Berkeley in the late
    >1950s was, according to Rossman, a reaction to the United
    >States' civil rights movement. Rossman insists that the
    >administration's actions, especially banning tables, were in
    >reaction to students' support for civil rights.
    >Lynne Hollander Savio, Mario Savio's widow, says she
    >considers civil rights a driving force for the movement.
    >"A lot of the spirit of the Free Speech Movement came from
    >the fact that people were really committed to the civil
    >rights movement," says Savio, now a librarian. "The passion
    >that was there (in the free speech movement) that was fought
    >for these rights on campus (originated) because people were
    >very passionate about the civil rights movement -- people
    >felt very strongly about it."
    >Students demonstrated this passion on the first day of
    >classes, Sept. 21, 1964 when they gathered at Sproul Hall
    >for the movement's first rally.
    >Earlier that day, Towle met with representatives from
    >various student groups and allowed them to set up a
    >regulated number of tables and to pass out informative but
    >not provocative literature.
    >These new regulations were violated, however, on Sept. 30
    >when five students set up tables at Sather Gate.
    >Administrators requested the students appear for
    >disciplinary action that same day.
    >Led by Mario Savio, Art Goldberg and Sandor Fuchs and more
    >than 500 students manned the second floor balcony of Sproul
    >Hall for the movement's first sit-in.
    >Protesters did not leave until 2:40 a.m. on Oct. 1, when
    >they agreed to disassemble.
    >At a noon rally that day, students again set up tables at
    >Sather Gate and at the steps of Sproul Hall. Jack Weinberg,
    >a representative of Campus Congress of Racial Equality,
    >refused to leave his table or identify himself. Police
    >arrested Weinberg and dragged him into a car that had been
    >driven onto campus, an action that outraged many of the
    >"That was a major mistake -- what could have inflamed people
    >more?" Savio says. "They could have had a policeman write a
    >citation, but to drive a police car onto campus was not
    >really prudent."
    >Students sat down around the police car and prevented it
    >from leaving campus. Several hundred turned into several
    >thousand and, amid this act of protest, a student named
    >Mario Savio emerged as the leader of the Free Speech
    >Movement. Savio, a sophomore philosophy major at the time,
    >took his shoes off, climbed on top of the police car, and,
    >in an emphatic speech, addressed more than 2,000 students.
    >Fellow students of Mario Savio remember today his moral
    >integrity and overall trustworthiness.
    >"He had an extremely keen moral sense -- a sense of right
    >and wrong that was really on target," Savio says. "People
    >knew they could trust him."
    >Weinberg and the thousands of students surrounding him
    >stayed put for 32 hours. After negotiations between student
    >representatives and administration officials, both parties
    >finally reached a settlement -- student demonstrators were
    >to desist illegal activity, a committee representing
    >students, faculty and administration would be established,
    >and charges against Weinberg would be dropped.
    >Perhaps the hallmark of the movement took place on Dec. 2,
    >when more than 1,000 demonstrators packed four floors of
    >Sproul Hall for a rally. As students began to occupy the
    >building, Mario Savio addressed demonstrators with the
    >movement's most celebrated speech.
    >"There comes a time when the operation of the machine
    >becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you
    >can't take part," he said. "And you've got to indicate to
    >the people who run it, to the people that own it, that
    >unless you're free, the machines will be prevented from
    >working at all."
    >More than 800 students remained in Sproul Hall that night.
    >At 3:05 a.m., Chancellor Edward Strong urged the
    >demonstrators to leave, and at 3:45 a.m. Gov. Edmund Brown
    >announced that he had dispatched 635 policemen to the scene.
    >For the next 12 hours approximately 814 demonstrators were
    >arrested and taken to local jails. It was the biggest mass
    >arrest in U.S. history to that point.
    >"It was pretty dramatic to be there looking inside," says
    >Reggie Zelnik, a UC Berkeley history professor who watched
    >the mass arrests of Dec. 3.
    >A group of faculty members collected contributions and
    >bailed out many of the student demonstrators.
    >"The faculty as a general body didn't come to fully support
    >the free speech movement until hundreds of faculty went to
    >Santa Rita Jail to drive their best students home -- it took
    >that kind of drama," Rossman says. "The faculty had come
    >very belatedly to support us in civil liberties."
    > >From the beginning of the movement, only a portion of
    >faculty members supported the students who were fighting for
    >John Searle, a UC Berkeley philosophy professor, was an
    >assistant professor at the time and says that for some time
    >he was alone in supporting the movement.
    >"At the very beginning there were almost no faculty members
    >sympathetic to the Free Speech Movement," Searle says. "As I
    >recall I was the only regular tenured faculty member to
    >support the FSM in the early days."
    >Searle says the movement gained more and more faculty
    >support as the administration grew more unreasonable.
    >Zelnik recounts that the movement drew more faculty support
    >in late November, when administrators retroactively
    >disciplined leaders for actions they made in September.
    >"The feeling that the administration made so many mistakes
    >in handing the situation led to change in faculty
    >sentiment," Zelnik says.
    >In negotiations made during the night of Dec. 2, faculty
    >members decided to establish an Academic Senate committee to
    >which students could appeal the administration's actions. On
    >Dec. 7, approximately 16,000 students, faculty members and
    >staff gathered in the Greek Theater for a convocation. Once
    >the meeting was adjourned, Mario Savio stepped on the stage
    >in order to make an announcement but was immediately removed
    >by police.
    >"It was the most naked display of police power," says Savio.
    >"It was just a question of power."
    >After much protest from students and faculty members, Mario
    >Savio was released and allowed to speak.
    >On Dec. 8, the Academic Senate voted in favor of a
    >five-point proposal against control of student speech and
    >political advocacy.
    >Savio recalls a sentiment of victory and euphoria after the
    >students' demands were supported.
    >"The sentiment after was that 'we are fantastic -- we have
    >won a great victory,'" she says. "We thought we could now
    >reform the whole world."
    >Although the UC Board of Regents did not initially accept
    >the Academic Senate's proposal, by January, the new acting
    >chancellor, Martin Meyerson, permitted tables and assigned
    >Sproul Hall steps as an area for open discussion.
    >The movement toward free speech certainly did not end in the
    >spring of 1965, however. Protest of the Vietnam War followed
    >that spring, and an increase in activism and demonstration
    >encompassed UC Berkeley and innumerable other college
    >campuses for the rest of the decade. The movement was only
    >the beginning of a larger trend of protest and activism that
    >many believe changed university life for good.
    >"Nationally it made a tremendous difference -- it was the
    >end of a certain conception of the relationship between the
    >university and students," says Searle. "Up until that point
    >the general attitude was that the university was a
    >sub-parent. This was an important step in removing that."
    >Searle points out that many universities nationwide imitated
    >UC Berkeley's movement.
    >"The great secret of the Free Speech Movement was not that
    >we had some special secret for doing it but that that it
    >could be done," Searle says.
    >Elizabeth Stevens, a librarian at the Bancroft Library, is
    >reminded of the movement whenever she encounters activism
    >"The fact that you can go down to Sproul Plaza and can see
    >about anybody give their two cents worth is a direct result
    >of the FSM," she says. "It's become an important event that
    >people identify with when they think of Berkeley."

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : 11/22/00 EST