Reaction to the FSM

Camponile at UC Berkeley

[For Gerry Berreman, see headings below]

One of the side-effects of student activism that was reinforced by the Free Speech Movement was a broader discussion of the role of the university in society, which included arguments as to the definition of a university, what a university education should look like and what the role of a university student should be. When Mario Savio characterized the university as a “sausage factory”, he was touching on something that was widely felt by many people in my world, but hard to describe.

Particle magazine on the meaning of education

The article below addresses this role-of-the-university issue. Since it is undated, except for a reference to a date, I cannot say at what point in the history of the FSM it appeared, but I’m guessing the letters to Mario Savio and Art Goldberg are the letters expelling them, which triggered an escalation of student action.

BEWARE THE OVERLAP

I had occasion to experience directly how little most people understood the wider issue. On a Sunday morning soon after the Sproul Hall sit-in, my husband and I attended a meeting held at the synagogue we were thinking of joining. We were going to the Sunday-morning coffee-and-bagel gatherings, but not yet services. I had promised to convert, with caveats, had completed the required course, but had not yet officially converted. Many UC Berkeley students were there, trying to explain events to synagogue members, via an open mike. I may or may not have been the only bustee in the room. There were maybe three hundred people there. Although it was a reform synagogue, I was the only female student to speak. I may also have been the only not-yet-Jew to speak and my husband tugged on my clothing as I got up to speak, clearly alarmed.

I tried to explain that the Free Speech Movement was about only one restriction on students and that many of us, clearly adults over the age of 21 (me, just barely), felt intensely all of the unnecessary restrictions on us. The whole attitude of in loco parentis, that we were children and the university is obligated to parent us, I hoped to point out, was obsolete. To illustrate my point, I began talking about out-dated dorm rules for women, still in effect at Berkeley but I was shouted and booed down by people who felt I was digressing from free speech issues. My husband later sneered, well, what did you expect, women’s dorm rules have nothing to do with free speech. Having recently been expelled from two different colleges for holding unacceptable political views, on the pretext that I had broken dorm rules, I was not very open to that idea. Somewhat cowed by the experience at the time, I now understand I was merely years ahead of my time.

The two of us were subsequently hauled over by synagogue members to meet an elderly Dutch Jewish couple who had survived the holocaust and were eager to lecture us/me. For about two hours I was told in no uncertain terms that I knew nothing about restriction, nothing about oppression, because I lived in such a free country. I had no right to complain about anything, and I wouldn’t if I had seen what they had seen. In respect for their experience, I did not defend myself to them. I did not point out that if I have no right to complain about anything because I live in a free country, my country is not all that free.

The religious react to the Free Speech Movement

Because I was not a Berkeley student in 1964, when the events generating the Free Speech Movement occurred and because this letter has no date other than a reference to a date, there is not much context I can provide for it. I was a student at Oakland City College, but had been accepted to UC Berkeley for the Spring semester, 1965, when I participated in the Sproul Hall sit-in Dec. 3, 1964. My subsequent six years of fairly unremitting political activism, emotional event after emotional event, has erased any date-related details I might once have had.

So, historians, you’re on your own to place the document below into any historical context beyond the Free Speech Movement in general. It was all I could do to clutch the documentation that floated by me to my breast for 50 plus years, perhaps hoping I’d someday be able to sort out what the hell happened to me. This document is, however, some indication that the Free Speech Movement was nothing like a “panty raid” as one person describes it in “Berkeley in the Sixties”, but a tidal wave of philosophical interchange between various components of the university community. It is signed by T. Walter Herbert of the Graduate Ministry, Wesley Foundation and a number of co-signers. I’m taking a wild guess that the letters in question to Mario Savio and Art Goldberg were letters expelling them. One reason I probably hung on to it is that it validates my own assessment of the Free Speech leaders, that they were fine idealistic people, seen as such even by a highly mainstream religious organization.

OVERLAP

NOTE:  There is a Barbara Arnold among the signers of this document, but it is not me. I was Barbara Samuels during the FSM and when I took my maiden name back, I was Barbara A. Arnold. So common is my given name that I am aware of more than one Barbara Arnold at Berkeley in the sixties because once or twice I received in the mail the grades of one of the others and experienced a moment or two of panic before I realized I had not taken those courses. I’m assuming I must have straightened out that problem in order to get my own grades for my own courses. Having such a common name is one of the several reasons I ended up changing my name completely to Jentri Anders, thinking there is never going to be another Jentri first name. That was until I found the book co-authored by Ray Bradbury and Gentry Lee. Well, at least I changed the spelling!

[Gerry Berreman]

Faculty reaction to the Free Speech Movement

Don’t know how I came to have a copy of the document below.  Possibly this was generated by anthropology Professor Gerald Berreman, the anthro prof most sympatico with the FSM and my advisor later on, and other sympatico anthro profs, and given to their graduate students to be circulated around the department. The results of the meeting itself are included in Berkeley in the Sixties, as the faculty senate, having resolved in favor of the students by a large majority, emerges to the joyful cheers of students crowded outside the senate meeting door. I was in that crowd, near the door, with other anthro students, but, as usual, I do not show up in the film because I’m short and was behind taller students.

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