Reorganization of the Universities

August 21, 1968

Report Outline
Student Pressure for Drastic Changes
Distribution of Authority in Universities
New Frameworks for Higher Education

Student Pressure for Drastic Changes

Campus Uprisings and Demand for Reforms

Out of the heat of the student rebellions in the spring of 1968 a cool word suggestive of mere mechanics emerged as a talisman for ending the campus wars of the 1960s. The word was “restructure.” The idea conveyed is that a make-over of some kind is imperative if major faults of higher education are to be corrected, and if conditions that foment student discontent are to be relieved. But though the word is cool, its portent is not, for restructuring will inevitably entail a clash of interests and viewpoints on a number of emotion-charged issues.

Students are not alone in demanding structural revision of a system in which they regard themselves as virtual captives for a minimum of four years. The need for a reordering of the higher education system, with particular reference to its dominant component, the large university, has been a major theme of a vast literature of academic self-criticism produced over the past decade and more. The student rebels, joined by numbers of young faculty members, have simply given added impetus to a pre-existing trend.

Few expect the current insurgency to subside. Following the breathing spell of summer vacation, student pressure on slow-moving college administrations is expected to be carried into the 1968–69 term just ahead. “An explosive mix is present on dozens of campuses,” a leader of the New Left wrote after spending four days with students occupying a building on the Columbia campus last April; student activity “surpassing in militancy” the uprising at Columbia lay ahead, he predicted. The consensus at an educators' conference held in Pittsburgh on June 5–6 was that “We are no-where near the end of campus unrest”; the educators agreed also that “major changes in the structure of higher education” were needed. Leaders of Students for a Restructured University, a moderate faction among protesting students at Columbia, testified before the university's fact-finding commission on July 16 that they expected the student strike, which caused a six-week shutdown of undergraduate classes on that campus in the spring, to be resumed when the fall term begins Sept. 26.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Protest Movements and Counter Culture
Jun. 05, 2020  Corporate Activism
May 01, 2020  Global Protest Movements
Jan. 05, 2018  Citizen Protests
Aug. 28, 1998  Student Activism
Jan. 04, 1991  The Growing Influence of Boycotts
Aug. 22, 1986  Student Politics 1980s Style
May 13, 1983  Christian Peace Movement
Apr. 08, 1970  Politics and Youth
Nov. 19, 1969  Challenges for The 1970s
Aug. 21, 1968  Reorganization of the Universities
Jan. 10, 1968  Universities and the Government
Jan. 03, 1968  Peace Movements in American Politics
Oct. 12, 1966  Alienated Youth
Feb. 24, 1966  Protest Movements in Time of War
May 19, 1965  Campus Unrest
Aug. 14, 1963  Mass Demonstrations
Dec. 11, 1957  Student Movements
Aug. 17, 1939  Conscientious Objection to War
Undergraduate and Graduate Education