MY FIRST EXPERIENCES IN THE SEXUAL FREEDOM MOVEMENT: SPRING, 1966
After my initial experience of meeting Durine Bailey, Richard Throne, Jefferson Poland, and Art and Katy Aaron, I began to become involved, gradually at first, with the Sexual Freedom Movement.
A few days after meeting Art and Katy, I went to a meeting of the Berkeley campus student organization, the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum. The meeting was led by a young student named Mike Stubblefield, who was the vice-president. The president, Kurt Rust, was unable to be present. A number of topics were discussed such as the relationship which the Campus Forum would maintain with the Sexual Freedom League. It was decided that the Forum would not organize nude parties because the League was already performing that function successfully and furthermore because the Forum did not want to do anything to damage the reputation of the University of California at Berkeley or imperil the official campus recognition of the student group. The Forum was to be primarily concerned with matters which affected only the campus community while broader issues, such as the legalizing of abortion, would be left up to the Sexual Freedom League. There happened to be only three such issues and the Forum would concentrate on these. The issues were concerned with abolishing lockout, the distribution of birth control advice and devices by the student health service at Cowell Hospital, and allowing "nude movies" to be shown on campus.
Lockout was an equal rights for women issue resulting from the University regulation that every female University student under the age of 21 be required to live in the University approved student housing unless she had written consent from her parents or guardian to live elsewhere. By contrast, the University approved housing for women was a dormitory, or a sorority or boarding house which, in order to gain University approval, had specific time regulations concerning lockout. These regulations stated that if a girl returned to her dormitory after 11:00 P. M. on weekdays or after 2:30 A. M. on Friday or Saturday nights, she would be locked out. Presumably such a girl would reap the wages of her sin by walking the streets of Berkeley until she found a place to sleep or until the dormitories re-opened the following morning. Because of this, every fraternity on the Berkeley campus has a guest room where poor, helpless, locked out, young virgins can find a place to spend the night.
The two types of arguments against the lockout procedure are equal rights for women argument, which states that males and females should be treated equally, and the civil liberties argument, which states that the University has no right to regulate the private lives of its students.
The difficulty with lockout issue was that, despite the fact that questions involved were of great significance to the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum, they were not a matter of much concern to the girls who actually lived in the University approved housing. It may seem strange that in spite of the number of liberals and radicals on the Berkeley campus, there has been no uprising of the girls in the dormitories and, in fact, the Berkeley lockout regulations were stricter than those of many other schools. Still, there are good reasons for this arising from the fact most of the girls who live in the dormitories are freshmen, many of whom signed up because they were unaware of the fact that at Berkeley, unlike many other schools, most of the students live in private apartments. It often never occurs to these freshmen girls that there may be something unjust about the lockout system until late in their freshman year by which time they are ready to express their protest, not by carrying a sign, but by quietly moving out, only to be replaced by next year's wave of freshman girls. There are, of course, girls who like the regulation provided by the lockout system and some state that it is useful for example, in providing a convenient time to break up their evenings engagement with their date without making the matter a personal issue. ("Oh, I'll just have to get back to the dorm now because they will lock the doors in fifteen minutes".) The girls who live in these dormitories have also developed numerous tricks, which are too complicated and devious to detail here, that are useful when they want to break the University regulations and stay out overnight for some reason. These tricks often involve such things as signing out to spend the weekend with their parents or simply never returning from school during the day. During the evenings, the girls have to sign in and out every time they enter and/or leave the building but the same requirement does not apply during the day. Also, much pressure is taken off the system by the fact that few coeds experience any difficulty in gaining written permission to live elsewhere from their parents, if only because of the acute housing shortage in Berkeley. The independent girls who go to school in Berkeley but who have severed relations with their parents are provided a system which permits them to appeal their case through the Dean of Women's office in Sproul Hall. Thus, it is easy to see why the relatively archaic lockout system has survived on the Berkeley campus.
The second issue of the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum concerned the desire by the group to have medical advice given and birth control pills and devices distributed by Cowell Hospital, the student health service. This was an issue which generated wide student support but, on the other hand, it was not likely to stir up any mass protests mainly because any female student could receive medical consultation and a prescription for pills free or at a minimal cost by visiting the Planned Parenthood Center in Oakland, about four miles away. It was true that is was inconvenient and difficult for a girl, who was a full time day student and who lacked automobile transportation, to make the numerous trips to Oakland to obtain the pills. Still, this did not seem to be an issue which was likely to raise anybody's passions.
The third issue was concerned with the events which had led to the well publicized "Great Nude Movie Crisis" which had been mentioned in Life Magazine and all sorts of other unlikely places. The "Great Nude Movie Crisis" was, to be most accurate, a big joke. It had started when some unsung and long forgotten hero had gotten the great idea of showing movies concerned with nudism at a free public demonstration on the Berkeley campus. He had written to Ed Lange of Elysium, Inc., a nudist organization in Los Angeles, who had sent him some very innocuous 8mm. reels of nudist movies and who had promised to fly up and give lectures when the time came.
The next step our unsung friend had taken had been to petition the Dean of Students office to allow these movies to be shown on campus. When they refused all that remained was to simply notify the local newspaper of this sad state of affairs. The Great Nude Movie Crisis was under way.
There are some interesting areas of speculation around it. One was the question of: if the administration allowed the movies to shown on the campus, would any students actually come. It was hoped that question would never be asked for fear of the possible embarrassment which might result. It was also wondered whether as many students as non-students were even aware that the issue ever existed. Berkeley students tend to stick to such relatively reliable sources of information as the U. C. student newspaper, the Daily Californian, and the Berkeley Barb and try to avoid the hogwash which is dished out by the mass media. Thus, the nude movie issue was one which was good for generating publicity and did have an idealistic justification but had little practical importance.
In summary, the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum was a group which did not plan much in the way of significant action and was concerned with only three issues, none of which was of any overwhelming social importance. This was a sorry state of affairs in these days when an issue must at least make passions rise and blood boil before it is even worth mentioning.
During the meeting which I attended, I did jump into the discussion a number of times despite the fact that it was my first time there. Still, there were only about 20 other people present, many of them consisting of a group of males who were sitting in the back and seemed to have little interest in the issue which were being discussed. There were only a few girls present but I later discovered that one was to be the "star" in a nudie photograph comic book story called the "Incredible Adventures of Annabel Smith" issued more than a year later. At some point in the discussion, I actually proposed a motion stating that a resolution should be drawn up and a petition circulated among the students to have birth control information and devices distributed by Cowell Hospital. This was sort of a Machiavellian gesture on my part since I had no plans to actually drawn up the petition or to circulate if myself. After the discussion, the motion was passed overwhelmingly despite some objections which were made that such a petition would do little to cause Cowell Hospital to change their policy.
I had studied Machiavelli as a freshmen at the University of California and had decided that everything he had to say was trivial.
After the meeting, I joined the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum by paying the annual dues which were only $2. What was left of the group went over to the headquarters of the Cal Conservatives For Political Action, a sometimes right of Goldwater, sometimes far left conservative libertarian student group which supported the war in Vietnam, but opposed the draft and had propensities towards sit-ins and public demonstrations. At the Cal Conservatives headquarters we watched all 12 of the nudie movies which Ed Lange had sent and tried to decide which ones were best suited for the type of showing that had been planned. Also it was pointed out that the Forum would have a party, presumably clothed, the following Saturday night, also at the Cal Conservatives headquarters.
I did go to the Forum party the following Saturday night and met a number of interesting people. It turned out that the most of the people at the party were Cal Conservatives members who decided they might as well come to a party as long as it was being held at their headquarters. This was an interesting and fortunate occurrence because I was able to talk to some intelligent people who were willing to support our presence in Vietnam and also because the conservatives provided a number of young college girls which the Forum generally lacked. The only event of any significance occurred when Jefferson Poland removed his clothing. I was expecting the conservative girls to beat a hasty path to the door but I found that none of them seemed in any way startled or upset. The party continued much as it would have otherwise, except that another male college student, this time a member of conservatives, also removed his clothing. During the party I met a 19 year old girl who was later to adopt the pseudonym of Colette (her real name was Alida Reyenga) and who was interested in chess as well as sexual freedom. As a result of meeting a girl with such an unlikely combination of interests, I began a long and complicated relationship with her.
The party was an enjoyable experience, like most typical student Berkeley parties, and broke up about 1:00 A. M. I noticed that the president of the Forum, Kurt Rust, left the party by himself. Concerning Poland's unusual actions, I later learned that a number of years earlier he had adopted the policy of taking off his clothing at every party, straight or far out, that he attended.
The following afternoon I joined the Sexual Freedom League. The method I used was somewhat devious since the girl I had brought into the group with me was merely an old friend of mine who was doing me a favor by joining along with me. Her name was Ann Allister and she had used my apartment as a refuge when she needed someplace to live, during the Fall of 1963, because she was pregnant and did not want her parents to find out. She had delivered the baby in March, 1964 and given it away for adoption. I paid the membership dues for both of us which happened to $1 per month per person with a minimum membership requirement of three months. In order to join we also had to be screened, that is interviewed, by one of the League members who were part of the membership committee and present ourselves as appropriate prospective members for the League. In this case, the interviewer happened to be Art Aaron and we experienced little difficulty in satisfying the not too stringent membership requirements. As Art pointed out, they did not expect to reject anybody except for obvious misfits, whatever they were, and used the screening process merely as a way meeting the people who joined and of establishing some control over the group by knowing what all the members looked like. They also wanted to use this opportunity to explain in greater detail some of the goals of the League as well as pointing out that it was not some sort of compulsory fucking group or prostitution service and that nobody who joined was guaranteed anything. The group discussion that week was led by Maxine Sanini with whom I was to have more extensive dealings later.
During the next week I happened to visit the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum table which was set up at the famous Bancroft and Telegraph entrance to the Berkeley campus. The entrance was famous because the entire Free Speech Movement of the Fall of 1964 had developed around the right of the student organization to set up tables at this particular spot on campus.
The Free Speech Movement was by far the most significant event in the history of political movements on the Berkeley campus, if not the whole college political movement spectrum. It is probably appropriate to summarize it here.
The Bancroft and Telegraph entrance had always been a place for political, and civil rights, anti-war, socialist and other types of movements to recruit members and to solicit contributions and financial assistance. Thus, the right of the students to set up tables at this area was symbolic of the much larger student fight for the rights of free men, etc. The tables had always been permitted since time immemorial because the area was considered to be technically not a part of the campus.
In the Summer of 1964 the presence of the tables on campus led to two events of special significance. The first occurred when an unmanned table was set up on the campus with a sign on it saying "Student who want to attend the Republican national convention leave name and phone number here." A sign up sheet was provided and naturally I signed. I forgot about the whole matter until several weeks later on a Tuesday nights, during the week in which the Republican National Convention was in process at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, when I received an anonymous phone call. The caller informed me that if I wanted to attend the Republican National Convention and support Scranton for President, I should show up at Bancroft and Telegraph at 7:00 A.M. The next morning. I said I would be there. When I arrived I found a group of approximately 1100 students who were boarding chartered buses. I got on one.
After I got on I found out that nobody on the buses knew what was happening either. I talked to the bus driver and he said that he had merely received orders to pick up a group of students at the campus and transport them to the Cow Palace. He had no idea who had ordered or paid for the buses or what the purpose of the trip was.
After we reached our destination we were herded into a barn like structure near the Cow Palace where we were given, in order, a plastic imitation straw hat with "Scranton for President" written on it and a Scranton for President sign. At this point members of the group were to receive tickets to the Convention. They passed out a large number of these tickets went inside of the Cow Palace. I was left in a group of several hundred students who milled around the Cow Palace somewhat aimlessly. On several occasions I asked around to find out whom was in charge or at least who had any authority. Most of the people there were just as confused as I but a few pointed at various people whom they thought to be leading the group. When I approached these people, however, they invariably denied they were in any higher position than anyone else. After several hours of aimless wandering someone yelled "Go over that way." Like a group of sheep the crowd made their way around the Cow Palace and arrived at a trailer which constituted the Romney for President headquarters. We waited for about a half hour wondering what was next when a young woman came out of the trailer and announced, "Everyone go around to the left side" and pointed the way. There seemed to be no other reasonable course of action so we followed the instructions.
Just as we began to arrive at the appointed location I noticed two brown barn doors which were entrances to the Cow Palace with a black car parked in front of them. Suddenly the doors were opened and I saw three men, who had previously been identified outside as leaders, standing inside. Members of the crowd fought their way through the narrow space between the car and the outside wall of the Cow Palace and into the entrance. I and a number of others took a more direct course by jumping onto the car and over the other side. Just as I entered the building a group of uniformed security guards charged the door. One of them tackled me but luckily knocked me against an inside wall of the building rather than forcing me out completely. He immediately released me since he was more interested in stopping the waves of students who were about to follow me in. I did not look back but ran forward. Apparently I was the last of this group of about 40 students to make it inside. A few feet further I was greeted by a man in a light brown suit who led me convention. Soon we arrived at the main hall which encircled the central area where the convention was actually being held.
After about twenty minutes of wandering through this hall I was approached by another security guard who demanded that I show my ticket to the convention. I began to fumble around in all my pockets carefully examining all the papers I automatically carry with me and finally informed him that I was unable to find it. He turned me over to three other guards who were in the process of leading about a dozen other students of the nearest exist. I continued to sift through my papers in a distracted manner and I managed to get lost in the crowd. Discovering I was free again I immediately got wise and discarded my Scranton hat and Scranton sign. Then I secluded myself in a safe looking area where a television set had been placed, between a coke stand and a popcorn booth. There I stood for almost an hour watching Huntley and Brinkley reporting directly from the Republican National Convention which happened to be taking place directly out he other side of the wall where the television was located. While I was standing there I watched Huntley and Brinkley begin to discuss the large number of student supporters who had crashed the convention with counterfeit tickets. They produced one of the fake tickets and showed the differences between it and the real one, pointing out that the ink on the phony ticket ran when wetted. I wondered why the Scranton for President people had not gone to the slightly greater experience of printing more tickets and using better ink.
While I was standing there, a suited young man walked up beside me and began to watch television himself. As we were standing there we began talking for and he identified himself as a Goldwater supporter from New Mexico. After talking for a while I confided in him how I happened to be there and why I was reluctant to move from the spot that I was currently occupying. He offered to lead me up to the balcony surrounding the convention floor to safety. We walked down the hall and up an inclined walkway which led upstairs. When we arrived, we walked down and he proceeded to tell me why I should support Goldwater for President and why Bill Miller, who had just hours earlier been introduced to the public a serious vice-presidential possibility would be an excellent vice-president and a great President if the necessity arose. He told me about the elitist conspiracy among leaders of the Republicans and Democrats who had successfully tricked the American public into believing that they were opposing each other. He talked about the New York Centered business oriented Establishment which had controlled the Republican party up to now and had been responsible for the selection of wishy-washy weak personalities such as Dewey, Eisenhower, and Nixon, for the office of President, about the noble and courageous efforts by supporters of Barry to overthrow this corrupt Establishment and nominate a truly great and uncompromising leader to the office of President, and, most importantly, about how this magnificent figure would lead the Republican Party to a smashing victory in November and the American people to new heights of glory in the coming four years. He documented his account with stories and facts which he claimed to be unquestionably true and which were intended to prove his points. I later discovered that most of what he said constituted almost word for word quotations from (1) A Choice Not an Echo and (2) None Dare Call it Treason.
As I sat there I watched candidate after candidate being nominated and the resulting tumultuous uproar, although I was informed that I had missed the best show when Goldwater had been nominated earlier and the convention hall appeared to explode. I also watched the nomination Scranton and the demonstration of the cheering students who were allowed onto the convention floor and, after the din had subsided, were ushered out of the Convention Hall and out of the Cow Palace. While most of the intruding students were washed out in this manner I was later informed that virtually everybody who had come on the buses to the convention had gotten in somehow. For example one friend of mine came in as a demonstrator for Romney. In retrospect, I would guess that probably between one and two hundred out of the original group were able to stay inside until the events of the evening had been completed. After the nominations were over, the speeches were made, the roll call was declared, and the votes were tallied, Goldwater was declared the winner, apologies were made, and defeat and victory was accepted and the convention was adjourned. Out in the parking lot I solicited a ride from a man who was driving back to downtown San Francisco. He told me that he was a Goldwater supporter and we discussed many of the same ideas I had heard from my newly found friend from New Mexico. By now I had realized that the ideas the young man had stated, unlikely as they had seemed, had been the very beliefs which had propelled Goldwater into a candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Now, as I sat listening to the driver, he expressed his complete confidence that Goldwater would be elected. After the awe inspiring spectacle I had seen that day I began to believe he was right.
The second event which was made possible by the presence of tables at Bancroft and Telegraph was a picked line which was organized to protest the racist policies which the Oakland Tribune seemed to be adopting. This was a matter of far less significance and I did not participate in it since I have never been much of a demonstrator, preferring to operate independently. The significant point was that William Nowland, former U. S. Senator and former possible candidate for President, had been the California state campaign manager for Barry Goldwater and furthermore was the editor, owner, and publisher of the Oakland Tribune. Most students later were to believe that Nowland had exerted the pressure which had been directly responsible for the change in policy regarding the campus tables which led to the Free Speech Movement. This seemed to be a reasonable assumption since Nowland had every reason to be upset about the presence of the campus tables and, in addition, he no doubt had the political pull to bring about the changes. On the other hand, despite the fact that I questioned many students about the matter, I never spoke with anybody who claimed any substantial basis to support this belief.
In September of 1964, just before the Fall Semester was scheduled to begin, the administrative offices of the Berkeley campus and, as such, was subject to the regulations that applied to all other parts of the campus. These regulations stated that student organizations which were not official or unofficial arms to the administration could not set up tables anywhere for any purpose on the campus. The organizations which were affected quickly discovered that on this issue the administration was technically right despite the fact that a number of statements issued in the past over a period of years had always implied or directly stated that the Bancroft and Telegraph area was not part of the campus. Still, the involved groups saw themselves as fighters engaged in a struggle to save lives in Vietnam and gain equality for all races and felt that their issues were far more important than the wishes of a smell group of willful men who happened to be members of the power elite on the campus. The strong emotions which were raised by the issue at hand caused a full scale eruption and revolution on the Berkeley campus.
To summarize, the first act by the student organizations was to set up a table on campus in defiance of the new regulations. This led to the administration calling the local police and arranging to having a police car onto the campus. When the car arrived an officer arrested the person at the table, graduate student Jack Weinberg, and ordered him into the car. Suddenly someone decided spontaneously to lay down in front of the car and within seconds the entire group of several hundred students present on the scene were seated around the car holding it under siege as it were. The police officers decided to play it cool and wait until the crowd dispersed, as they felt they must do it eventually. They agreed when someone asked that some speakers be allowed to address the group from the top of the car. Thus, it was, that in a time of necessity and duress, on a quiet day in autumn, on the top of a police car, in the middle of the Berkeley campus, that the idea of the "open forum" and the concept of the Free Speech Movement was invented. Someone brought in a microphone and sound equipment, another student assumed the role as moderator and a procession of student began to give short speeches lasting two to five minutes. The moderators changed, groups of students came and left, shifts were established to make sure that the car was always surrounded, and speeches continued, one after another all that day and night and through the next day, until the next morning, a full 36 hours later, the Berkeley police conceded defeat, released Weinberg, and dropped all charges against him. Thus, for the first of many, many times the students of the University of California at Berkeley had shown a group solidarity and sense of common purpose and despite the fact that there would be, in the future as there had been in the past, a healthy amount of pretty bickering concerning philosophies, tactics, and personalities, everybody knew who the common foe was and when the need to show their strength arose was no question that the Berkeley students were ready and willing to fight.
Those students who had been lulled into believing that they had actually won something were shocked when, a few days later, the administration singled out a small group of students, declared that they had been the "leaders" of the campus disruption, and expelled or suspended them all. This led to a sit-in demonstration by 300 students in the corridors of Sproul Hall, the administration building, which was broken up when the administration agreed to allow the students back into school. This also proved to be a shallow victory because the administration decided that these students must not have been the leaders, that it must have been some other students, and proceeded to toss out a number of other students. This led to a second Sproul Hall sit-in on Dec. 3, 1969 and this time almost 800 students sat-in, were arrested, were dragged down the corridors and, in some cases, bumped down the stairways (the elevators were too slow) taken into the paddy wagons and transported to the Berkeley city jail and, when they became filled, to the Alameda Country Jail at Santa Rita. Incidentally, the Berkeley police, who according to many experts, constitute one of the finest police forces in the country (the others must be pretty bad) were in charge of arresting the students and dragging them to the top of the stairs, while the Oakland police, who have since become nationally famous for their excessive brutality, were in charge of transporting the students down the stairs.
As a result of this demonstration the second group of students were also readmitted although many of them had to drop out of school again immediately because they had missed so many of their classes during the period that they had been expelled. The administration was content not to terminate the education of any other real or imagined leaders because the matter was now in the hands of the courts. Later on Dec. 8, 1964 the academic senate, composed of professors and Associate Professors at the University, passed a series of motions. These were later to be known as the Dec. 8 resolutions and declared that all properly registered student organizations should have the right to set up tables on campus and that the administration should be allowed to regulate the time, place, and manner, but not the content of the speeches made on campus. Since that time the institution of having speeches and rallies scheduled between noon and 1:00 P.M. on the steps of Sproul Hall has become a routine part of life on the Berkeley campus. The rallies and demonstrations which have to be organized at frequent intervals to preserve this right has also become routine. In general it can be said that the passage of the December 8th resolutions marked the end of the first great battle which the Berkeley students have had to fight. It should be noted, however, that the Academic Senate, its prestige and influence notwithstanding, does not have any regulatory power on the Berkeley campus and the power to make and enforce rules rests solely with the administrative offices.
The Free Speech Movement of 1964 was notable for its personal triumphs and tragedies. One of the most important occurrences was the rise of a true student leader in the presence of Mario Savio, a sometimes physics, sometimes political science graduate student who had recently arrived from Queens, N. Y. Savio had not been noted for his political activities previously but was one of the many thousands of students who was moved by the events on Berkeley campus. Thus, he had been one of many students who had made speeches on top of the police car and later from the steps of Sproul Hall. He, unlike anyone else, was almost immediately looked on as the leader of the Free Speech Movement.
Savio's rise to power, if that is an appropriate way to express it, is not easy to explain. He was not a particularly good speaker and had a style which was often tedious ("Let us pause to consider--") and boring. He was a leftist activist which was appropriate for the mood of the Berkeley campus at the time able and at least as radical or more radical than Savio. He did have the courage of his convictions, the willingness to confront the issues forcefully and directly, and the intellectual ability to grapple with the issues that were at hand. Still, Berkeley is endowed with all manner, sizes, and shapes of geniuses many of whom would have been just as willing to lead the Free Speech Movement, who were better speakers, and could, at times, make Savio look like an intellectual midget. Nevertheless, nobody, at that time or since, has ever even approached the stature or gained the following that Savio had and still enjoys.
Some say it was Savio's aggressive activism combined with a prudent sense of good judgment and timing which gave him the uncanny ability to decide what course of action was appropriate or what type to appeal to make to the crowds. Others say it was his willingness to flog the students to greater vigilance and higher goals just when they were beginning to consider a compromise or to think that maybe the administration weren't such bad guys after all. Still others say it was his personal strength which would not allow him or those around him to lose hope after a defeat or to congratulate themselves after a victory, but which demanded that they be unyielding and strive ever forward and to never be satisfied or content with a real or imagined victory.
As for myself, I cannot claim to know why Savio stood head and shoulders above the others. All I can say is that when Savio spoke, it was obvious that he felt very strongly about what he said. He never dealt with platitudes or trite intellectualisms but seemed to let his words come from deep inside himself. He had a dramatic emotional style, often resorting to histrionic devices, but always showing how sincerely concerned he was about the issues. He seemed to be looking, not towards the immediate short ranged goals, but appeared to feel a sense of history and to believe that the specific events of the student revolution were petty matters in contrast to the far greater social issues and long range goals which were at stake.
It was this view that drove the student revolution ever onward. It made the activists appear to want to smash and destroy everything that was sacred and holy. It made them take on battles that they knew they could not win in any short range sense. It often appeared to send them down a self destructive and even suicidal path in the hope that some day, at some time in the future, somebody might benefit by what they did, even though they realized that they personally would lose.
And lose they did. The 800 who were arrested all stiff sentences ranging from 180 days in jail for Savio himself down to $254 fines for most of the lesser involved students. The punishments were not meted out until the spring of 1967 after the case had been appealed almost to the U. S. Supreme Court and back. Nevertheless, they were not the only losers. One loser was Chancellor Edward V. Strong who had spent almost 40 years on the campus including most of the years since he had arrived as an undergraduate freshman. Strong had worked his way up through the ranks and had arrived at the highest office he could occupy on the Berkeley campus. In the course of time he had achieved recognition as a noble and distinguished educator to be revered and respected by all. He was said to be looking forward to a peaceful retirement in a few years after spending most of his lifetime in selfless sacrifice and service to others He was never to achieve his goal.
Within a few months or even weeks he was to find that everything that he had labored so long and hard to achieve was utterly obliterated. Probably before he acquired a full grasp of what was happening, he found himself being forced to take an extended vacation and later asked to resign.
Despite the fact that he came so near and yet so far from his goal, Berkeley students hold little if any sympathy for his position. He is believed to have been a second rate scholar, a blown up fuddy duddy, a little man with shallow insight and narrow views, and a man who desperately clung to the straws of power and would not yield or even despised or hated by the students he tried to rule but he found himself discredited by the faculty, disowned by his subordinates, and denied by University President Clark Kerr. Thus, in a very short time, he found himself suddenly left alone by events he probably did not understand.
Still, it was no accident that all this happened. After all it was Strong or his immediate subordinates who ordered the change in the policy concerning campus tables, who threw the two groups of students out of school, and who ordered the police brought in and the students arrested. It was Strong who had tried to act as though the campus crisis never existed, as though there were no legitimate issues involved, as though the students and faculty were his underlings and should do as he said. Perhaps most importantly it was strong who led his team of administrators hell bent down the path which forced every one of them to eventually be fired or to resign in disgrace. The only thing is, it is truly unfortunate that it was not Strong who was lucky enough to turn the reins of power over to others one year before he was found to drop them.
Within a few months virtually every University administrative office had been filled by new personnel. The only persons of any importance who remained were University President Clark Kerr and Dean of Men Arleigh Williams. Kerr would almost certainly not have survived had not he enjoyed tremendous national prestige before the crisis occurred and had not been President of all the branches of the University and therefore technically not directly responsible for the events on the Berkeley campus.
Williams' survival and the fact that he was even promoted to the office of Dean of Students is interesting. Most people on the Berkeley scene believe his survival was a result of his innocuous personality and the fact that his presence was generally notable by his absence. The basis of this image lies to some extent in reality and to other extents in the fact that originally gained prominence not as a distinguished scholar but as a well liked personable student who, at one time, had been a star on the football team and a campus hero. For this reason few people, especially of those who were better educated or knowledgeable than he, took what he said very seriously. This state of affairs was, at times, a great advantage on the Berkeley campus.
I happen to believe, however, that at least some of his success is a result of the fact that over the years he has made few if any mistakes. Unlike most students, I happen to respect men who do not make mistakes, if only because there are so few of them. Sometimes I find it interesting to liken Williams to a top Kremlin boss, who somehow manages to stay near the top and survive wave after wave of purges and new appointments, and who seems led by some uncanny animal instinct which always tells him which side to join. While the few students I have dared to express this view to think it is, at best, ludicrous, I still contend that anyone who can manage to maintain the delicate balance that Williams has for so long, must have something going for him.
Berkeley students tend to be blasEabout the personal tragedies that have befallen so many of the sincere idealists, hard working administrators, dedicated educators, and well meaning and concerned individuals, who fought for what they thought was right at various times on different sides of many issues and who were swept away by forces over which they had little control. They seem to feel detached from those who have lost all they worked so hard to build and to ignore the fact that of the many souls who have staked their future and their reputation when a non-committal stand would have been more prudent, so few have gained and so many have lost. It is hard for anyone to remain on the Berkeley campus for very long without feeling that he too is occupying a niche and playing a role which occupies only a symbolic place in a much larger struggle which supersedes any petty bickering or any personal dreams, hopes, desires or ambitions. I feel that eventually even Clark Kerr realized that he too was merely a pawn in a great game and that this personal ambitions were a minor matter when it came to protecting all that he had worked to build.
After all it was Clark Kerr who had stepped from his role as a successful labor mediator to the Presidency of the two campuses University of California and had proceeded to build it from just another state college to the position it now occupies of being recognized as the most important and perhaps most distinguished University in the country. Prior to the Free Speech Movement his image, real or unjustified, as a brilliant mediator and distinguished educator led him to be considered as a natural and likely choice for Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare and to be mentioned in at least one national magazine as a dark horse candidate for the Vice Presidential Nomination. Needless to say, the Free Speech movement cast a shadow over his political career even though it has often been rumored that he was offered a cabinet post and turned it down. Despite his stature in the Academic world, many students felt he was another Strong in his personal views and managed to keep his position by kowtowing to the Regents and the Governor while appearing to support the intellectual beliefs and idealisms of the students, but held himself aloof from the dirty work that Strong and others had to do. Thus, many students considered him to be a shrewd operator who was dedicated only to political expediency and furthering his personal career.
Perhaps they were wrong all along or perhaps Kerr too learned something from the students who had Ronald Reagan was elected to the office of Governor later in Nov. 1966 after promising to "clean up the University of California." At this point Kerr had a choice: he could make most expedient move by joining the Regents and helping them destroy what he had built, he could resign at the peak of his career and rest on his record, or he could fight. Kerr, for the first time in his career, took a stand and chose to fight. Thus, while Clark Kerr must have known that he had to lose, he must have known too that the public uproar that would result from his dismissal would be so great that Governor Reagan could not dare to touch the University for a long time to come. I feel that Kerr realized that he too was a part of history and that the time had finally come in his life where he had to put aside all his personal interests and sacrifice any hopes that he may have had.
Every time I walk across the Berkeley campus and stop to look at the menageries of organizational tables supporting various causes there, I am constantly reminded of the many who gave so much merely for the insignificant appearing right of these groups to set up tables on the campus. Thus, on this fine Spring day in March, as I approached the Campus Sexual Freedom Forum table at Bancroft and Telegraph it occurred to me that all these gallant fighters had struggled for, more than anything else, the right of Dave Eller to set up his little table here on the Berkeley campus. As I approached, I could not fail to raise the proverbial query, "Why did so many give so much for so little?"
"Hello, Dave," I said.
To learn more about this student club, see: My Halcyon Student Days , The Party of November 19, 1966 , The Party of November 26, 1966 , Lisa Lindvall, Sexual Freedom Organizer , How we got Mara into Playboy Magazine and Orgy Host Ordered to Quit House .
We were not merely throwing parties. We were also student campus revolutionaries in our spare time. Here is a picture of me in the San Francisco Chronicle for December 6, 1966 News Clipping of Sam Sloan, Student Striker, in December, 1966 .Here are links: