Harvard University and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement

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FSM Campus Press


Jo Freeman, "At Berkeley in the Sixties," (Indiana University Press, 2004), p223
"Mario, Bettina, Steve and Suzanne went east on a speaking tour of college campuses. The ABC television network paid their fare to New York City so that they could appear on a TV show, and they used the opportunity to talk about the FSM at several campuses. The press generally reported this trip as a flop because only hundreds, not thousands, of students came to hear them speak. But for hundreds to turn out for anything political on most campuses was a lot, especially the last week of classes before the Christmas break, which was also exam week for some. They left the evening of December 9th and spoke at Michigan, Wisconsin, Brandeis, Columbia, and of course Queens College, where Mario had once been a student. All but Steve were from New York."

The Harvard Crimson
December 4, 1964

800 Arrested at Berkeley; Students Paralyze Campus

BERKELEY, Calif., Dec. 3-Police arrested almost 800 University students here today, as Gov. Brown cracked down on the largest incident in the continuing protests which have plagued the Berkeley Campus all semester.

The students, backed by the Freedom of Speech Movement, marched into Sproul Hall, the main administration building, shortly after noon on Wednesday. While a crowd of more than 6000 listened in front of the court building, FSM leader Mario Savio told the students inside the building they could bring the University to a "grinding halt."

The students, who have been at war with the University over regulations restricting political action on campus and rules making illegal off-campus action a campus crime, were recently sparked into new action when the University brought new charges against leaders of the FSM.

While Joan Baez sang "We Shall Overcome," the students, marching behind an American flag, flowed into sproul for a massive sit-in. They called the sit-in an occupation action, and the students inside figuratively established the Free University of California.

Designating areas of the building for study hall, recreational areas, classrooms, first aid units, kitchens and press facilities, students proceeded to run a fairly complete society. Classes were held in subjects ranging from "The Nature of God In a Logarithmic Curve" to the Warren Report to Endocrine Glands.

The students were trapped in the building at 7 p.m., the normal closing time. From that time on, no students were allowed into the building, but an agreement was negotiated with police to allow students to bring supplies of food, medicine, cigarettes and toothpaste into the building.

Harvard and Radcliffe students will be joined by many from other Boston area colleges in a silent vigil in support of the Berkeley students' demands from 4 to 5 p.m. today, on the triangle to the west of Mem Hall.

At midnight, rumors began to fly in the building of impending police action. Students learned from a command post outside the building that Governor Brown had instructed police to correct what he called an unlawful situation at the University.

Alerted by the walkie talkies, the students learned at 2 p.m. that several vans of policemen had left the Alameda County Sheriff's office and were heading for the building. At 3 a.m. Chancellor Edward Strong, the head administrative officer at the campus, appeared in the corridor and asked the students to "please go," explaining that the University was always willing to discuss grievances through normal channels.

After the Chancellor's statement, a campus police lieutenant declared the meeting an unlawful assembly and gave the students five minutes to clear out. No one budged.

The police decided to attack the relatively undefended and isolated fourth floor. Carrying students to an elevator where they were photographed and booked, the police slowly carried out the tedious task of arrest. It took apparently twelve hours for the police to clear out 776 students from the corridors.

Meanwhile, a virtually complete general strike at the University was underway outside. With the campus virtually paralyzed, an ad hoc assembly of nearly 900 faculty members sent a telegram to Gov. Brown protesting the use of police on campus.

The Harvard Crimson
December 8, 1964

SDS to Hold Protest March, Rally In Sympathy for Students at Cal.

The Harvard chapter of Students for a Democratic Society will stage a march through the Yard and a rally at Lowell Lecture Hall today, to demonstrate sympathy for the arrested student demonstrators at the University of California.

The march, which grew out of earlier plans for a rally, will begin at 3:15 p.m. in the triangle of grass between the House area and the LAB. David M. Kotz '65, president of the S.D.S. chapter here, predicted last night that as many as 400 students from Harvard, Tufts, Brandeis, and Simmons will join the demonstrations.

March Down Mill Street

The group will march from the LAB down Mill Street, up Plympton Street to Massachusetts Ave., and through the Yard to Lowell Lecture Hall.

Barney Frank '62, asst. senior tutor of Winthrop House, will address the marchers inside Lowell Lecture Hall. Leonard K. Nash, professor of Chemistry, will chair the meeting, and Dave Van Ronk, the folksinger, will sing.

Meanwhile in Berkeley, President Clark Kerr told a meeting of 13,000 students that the University would drop the charges against four leaders of the Free Speech Movement which triggered renewed demonstrations last week.

Kerr said he would leave the 800 students arrested in last Thursday's sit-in to the courts because civil charges are "far more serious than those made previously by the University." He added that there would be no change in a recent ruling by the California Regents making illegal political activity off campus subject to University discipline.

When Mario Savio, a leader of the F.S.M., tried to speak in answer to Kerr, he was dragged from the podium by University police, amid loud booing from the crowd, Later he told an F.S.M. rally that Kerr's proposals were "totally unacceptable."

The Harvard Crimson
December 9, 1964

The Berkeley Riots

Reports in the Eastern press have tended to treat the riots at the Berkeley Campus of the University of California as one more example of undergraduate hooliganism. But the fact that most of the students, 800 members of the faculty, and the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors blame the University administration for causing the riots suggests that something more important is at stake.

The trouble started in September when the University announced it would enforce an old rule which prohibits any organization from soliciting funds or membership on campus, and makes participation in illegal off-campus political activity, such as sit-ins, subject to University discipline. Student political leaders claimed that President Kerr and the California Regents were submitting to pressure by right-wing groups which resented student civil rights projects in the San Francisco area.

The controversy centered over an area of the campus that had traditionally been set aside for fund-raising and political speeches. When the ban on political activities was issued, the whole spectrum of Berkeley's political make-up, from Goldwaterites to Socialists, rallied together, and on Sept. 30 several groups set up fundraising tables in the area. That night Chanceilor Edward W. Strong announced the "indefinite suspension" of eight students who had taken part in the civil disobedience. The following day, when University police tried to arrest one of the protesters, hundreds of students sat down on all sides of the police patrol car and prevented the police from removing the demonstrator. The sit-down went on for 32 hours, until President Kerr, with Berkeley Parents' Day just one day away, agreed to negotiate with the students if they would call off their demonstration.

The suspended students were reinstated, and on Nov. 20th the Regents ruled that organizations would be allowed to solicit funds and membership at certain designated places on campus. They reiterated, however, that illegal off-campus political activity--and advocating such activity--still constituted campus crimes.

Although the Free Speech Movement, which had been formed to carry on the battle with the administration, still protested these restrictions, to all intents and purposes the issue was dead. It was the administration that revived it. On Nov. 30, the University announced that it would press charges against four of the leaders of the October demonstrations. The students felt that the administration had broken an implicit promise, and the F.S.M. had a new campaign to fight. As one student put it, "the feverish enthusiasm for the F.S.M. always seems to die out until the University makes another incredible blunder, which it always seems to do."

The protest last week, which led to the spectacle of California Highway Patrolmen dragging students down four flights of stairs in the administrative office building, clubbing some of them, can be attributed only to obstinacy and bad faith on the part of Kerr's administration. The action by police led a meeting of more than 800 of Berkeley's 1200 faculty members to send a telegram to Governor Edmund Brown, condemning his use of the Highway Patrol. The same meeting urged a further liberalization of the University rules on political activity, and the establishment of a subcommittee of the Academic Senate to act as an appeals board for students charged with violating campus political regulations.

On Monday President Kerr announced that the administration was dropping the charges against the four leaders of the October sit-down. But the 786 demonstrators who urged him to do just that now face court action for violating California laws.

President Kerr should use his political influence to convince Governor Brown to drop the charges against the demonstrators. Kerr's administration should adopt the liberalized rules proposed by the faculty members, and should abandon the notion that a University has any legitimate role in restricting the political activity of its students.

The Harvard Crimson
Friday, December 11, 1964

Mario Savio To Talk Tonight in Lowell Lec

Mario Savio, leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, will speak at 8 p.m. tonight in Lowell lecture Hall. The address is sponsored by the Harvard chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society.

Savio, who has called the settlement proposed by the Berkeley Faculty Senate an "FSM victory," will arrive in Boston at 5 p.m. today. He will attend and address a dinner here before his appearance at Lowell Lecture Hall.

Savio will also visit Brandeis University, probably between 9 p.m. and midnight. His trip to the East coast is being paid for by a New York television station.

The Harvard Crimson
Saturday, December 12, 1964

Savio Blasts Kerr's 'Knowledge Factory'
By Parker Donham

Mario Savio, a leader or Berkeley's Free Speech Movement, last night accused University of California President Clark Kerr of being an "able practitioner of managerial tyranny," who was seeking to make Berkeley a "knowledge factory."

Savio told an audience of more than 300 people at Lowell Lecture Hall that the current controversy over political freedom at Berkeley was an outgrowth of Kerr's "worldly view" of the University.

Citing Kerr's book, Uses of the University, Savio asserted that the University President views students as the "raw material" who are fed into the knowledge factory, "where all the rough edges are taken off and smooth, slick products come out."

Multiman Denounced

Savio said that the student protesters at Berkeley represented a "more traditional educational philosophy. We believe in a university of scholars and students," he continued, "with inquiry as its defining characteristic, and freedom as its fundamental tool."

"Kerr's university is the most efficient," Savio said, "the most worldly. It is a University plugged into the military and the industrial--but not to truth."

Savio recounted the battle between the FSM and the University in these terms. He said that "Multiman," as he called Kerr, had sought to divide Berkeley into "the managers"--the administration, and the "managed"--the students and faculty.

Savio said that the Free Speech Movement had freed faculty members from the oppression of the administration. "Men whose spirits had been crushed back in the oath fight [when all faculty members were required to sign a loyalty cath], were released to stand up for their rights."

In a press conference at Sever Hall, just before his speech, Savio responded sharply to questions about Communist infltration in the FSM. "Of the 50 representatives on our steering committee," he said, "four would term themselves 'revolutionary socialists.'"

"But I'm sure," he continued, "that the Goldwater people and the followers of Ayn Rand, who were with us in Sproul Hall, would resent the assertion that they had been communist infiltrated."

No Prediction of Peace

Savio was reluctant to predict that the University Regents would accept the terms of a peace proposal by Berkeley's Academic Senate. The offer has been endorsed by the FSM.

"To me it's unthinkable that they would turn it down," he said, but it's possible." He added that Governor Brown and the District Attorney had said that there would be no amnesty for the 800 arrested students. "We need help for these people," he said.





© Barbara Toby Stack

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