College Demonstrations and Protests
Shift from Apathy to Activism on Campuses
A wave of discontent is sweeping college campuses and pushing out the apathy that seemed to have taken possession of students in most institutions of higher education. Growing unrest among college men and women, and an awakening of interest in national and world affairs, have been highlighted by unruly demonstrations for greater freedom of political action on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, by protests at Yale against the university's “publish or perish” policy on faculty tenure and, most recently, by a rash of campus debates and student demonstrations for and against American policy in Viet Nam.
The meaning of this upsurge of protest movements has puzzled the academic world and leaders of opinion outside that world. Some observers assert that Communist-led radicals have been fomenting student disorders for subversive ends. Others blame the restiveness on the facelessness of life in today's huge universities. Almost five million students are now enrolled in the nation's institutions of higher learning. An increasing number of them want to participate in control of the educational machinery. Many more seek identification with the great issues and decisions of the times—in politics, civil rights, war and peace. Thus they are making their way into the general ferment of views and opinions by talking, by picketing, by demonstrating, or by sitting up all night at campus “teachins.”
Causes of Student Disturbances at Berkeley
No student demonstrations in recent years have received more publicity or had greater repercussions in the educational domain than the series of disturbances on the Berkeley campus of the University of California during the academic year 1964–65. The trouble began last Sept. 14, a week before classes opened, when the dean of students shut off an area on campus where students had been allowed to collect funds and enlist adherents for off-campus political or social-action activities. This area was a 26-by-60-foot patch of bricked-over ground called the Bancroft Strip. The decision to enforce “campus rules, long ignored, prohibiting the organization of political activity on campus” had the result of forging what has been described as “a united front of protest extending from campus Goldwaterites to Maoist members of the Progressive Labor party.”