As of December 31, 2014, I retired from full-time teaching in Humboldt State University's Department of History. While this website will remain online, it is no longer maintained.

History 383 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
Campus Turmoil

Photo of burned Bank of America in Isla Vista, 1970

Introduction: Today is our first discussion in the last unit of the class - Getting California Through the Tumultuous Decades - in which we discuss California history beginning in the 1960s and into the early 1990s. Because we don’t have enough time to discuss this era in detail, this unit uses a case study approach in which we cover a few key topics that merit in depth discussion - campus turmoil, Red Power, and the California leadership of three influential governors.

Discussion Goals
  1. To explain the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education and the promise it made to Californians.
  2. To understand the language of campus turmoil: protest, dissent, civil disobedience.
  3. To understand the evolving mission of universities throughout U.S. history and the change in that mission envisioned by some UC California administrators in the 1960s.
  4. To analyze the goals and accomplishments of the Free Speech Movement (FSM).
  5. To follow the various campus protest movements that occurred in California during the 1960s.
  6. To discuss some of the myths and realities about student protestors in the 1960s.

Cold Call: 20th cold call on required reading and viewing - read Introduction, Goal 1, 2, and 3 in today's discussion guide AND watch Berkeley in the Sixties.

Goal #1: To explain the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education and the promise it made to Californians (adapted and excerpted in part from Aaron Bady and Mike Konczal, "From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education" in Dissent, Fall 2012 at

While in it's details, the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education was a "complex and unwieldy piece of legislation," at its heart "it was actually quite simple and intuitive: the Master Plan was nothing more than a blanket commitment from the state to educate all the California students who wanted an education and, in doing so, to facilitate the kind of class mobility that has placed public education at the center of American civic life." The Plan - created by UC president Clark Kerr and signed into California law by Governor Pat Brown - was designed to place all college-bound high school graduates into three categories, and to make it possible for a student to move from the bottom category to the top.

In theory and to a significant extent in practice, anyone from anywhere in California could, if they worked hard enough, get a bachelor’s degree from one of the best universities in the country almost free of charge. Indeed, the Master Plan explicitly stated that the state should be the primary source of higher education funding by covering the cost of instructional minutes - tuition - while students should pay ancillary costs for things such as laboratories, health services, and student activities - fees.

For nine years, Political cartoon showing the death of California's Master Plan for Higher Educaitonthe promise of the Master Plan for a tuition-free college education in California stood firm and the doors were opened to thousands of students. However, beginning in 1969, several major events occurred which eventually ended the promise of the Master Plan and led to the decline of public higher education in California.

In the decades after WWII, California built new facilities, campuses, and new universities at the speed believed necessary to keep pace with student demand. In the 1950s, the UC system had two campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles while today, it is a ten-campus system.

"Each of these universities was a world-class institution almost out of the gate, making it possible for one-eighth of California’s high school graduates to receive a world-class education."

And what about the CSU system and community colleges?

Why is this a problem?

The Bady and Konczal article ends with the following glum statement:

"Sometimes policy failures are accidental. Sometimes there is a trail of breadcrumbs. In the case of California higher education, it is hard not to notice that policy failures have meant big business for the for-profit industry. And in some cases, that trail of breadcrumbs leads directly to the men and women who run the UC. UC Regent Richard Blum, for example, is not only the largest shareholder in two for-profit universities, Career Education Corporation and ITT Educational Services ... The problem isn’t anything as simple as pure corruption, but the decline of the public university is corporate capital's gain, and investment firms like Blum Capital Partners know this quite well. The educational infrastructure of the future - and in many ways, of the present - is being built out of the very same crumbling public sector that men like Richard Blum have been entrusted with stewarding.

Ronald Reagan may not have seen this coming when he first set out to destroy what he saw as the creeping communism of master-planned and state-funded public education. His vision at the time was essentially negative, reactionary. But the conservative project he put in place in California in the 1960s remains with us today. Reagan was the trendsetter in making higher education into a problem to be solved with fee hikes and police. Other governors approached this problem in different ways, but the decision Reagan made to begin the destruction of the Master Plan hangs over all of them. Today, we can clearly see the results. Limiting the ability of the government to plan for the education of its citizens has left us with the worst of both worlds: students and families with too much debt and too few options."

At the same time that the California Master Plan for Higher Education was taking shape in California, students in both the UC and CSU systems became more politically conscious. With the Civil Rights Movement erupting across the nation, many students turned to campus protest.

Goal #2: To understand the language of campus turmoil: protest, dissent, civil disobedience.

To dissent or protest is to publicly voice a difference of opinion about or opposition to the status quo, usually for a religious, political, economic, and/or ideological reason.

Statement about civil disobedience by Howard ZinnCivil disobedience occurs when a person or group uses passive, nonviolent action to demonstrate their disapproval of an action, policy, and/or law.

Those who practice civil disobedience act as part of an organized group that shares certain moral convictions and that is willing to collectively and nonviolently demonstrate their opposition by trying to force concessions from the government.

The idea of Civil Disobedience was formally put into writing in 1849 when Henry David Thoreau wrote, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience."  While Thoreau articulated many important  ideas, at least four thoughts dominated many of the late 20th Century protest movements in the United States:

Questions for discussion:

Goal #3: To understand the evolving mission of universities throughout U.S. history and the change in that mission envisioned by some UC California administrators in the 1960s

The Evolving Role of the American University

The first universities were created over 200 years ago ...

19th Century universities ...

Early 20th Century universities ...

Late 20th Century California modern multiversity ...

So, what is the problem with a multiversity?

The big change - the role from university to multiversity - was one of the major issues that propelled California's universities into a decade of turmoil. This change required a new focus - creating a "knowledge industry" that was explained by University Chancelor Clark Kerr in a speech you already watched in Berkeley in the Sixties.

Excerpt from Clark Kerr's The Uses of the University (Harvard, 1963)

"The production, distribution, and consumption of 'knowledge' in all its forms is said to account for 29 percent of gross national product ... and 'knowledge production' is growing at about twice the rate of the rest of the economy ... What the railroads did for the second half of the last century and the automobile for the first half of this century may be done for the second half of this century by the knowledge industry: that is, to serve as the focal point for national growth ...The university and segments of industry are becoming more alike. As the university becomes tied into the world of work, the professor - at least in the natural and some of the social sciences - takes on the characteristics of an entrepreneur ... The two worlds are merging physically and psychologically."

So, the problem is clear - In 1964, at the same time some university administrators are embracing the idea of corporatizing and privatizing education, students in California and around the nation were thinking about the university in an entirely different manner. To them, the university was a place where:

These diametrically opposed ideas between administrators and students clashed in 1964 as university administrators worked towards a knowledge industry at the same time that students rejected the thought of being "raw material" for the economy and instead wanted to open the university to free speech - to discussion, debate, and compromise in a way that met the constitutional needs and requirements for all Americans.

Goal #4: To analyze the goals, accomplishment, and consequences of the Free Speech Movement (FSM)

Free Speech Movement photo at UC Berkeley 1964

For almost 100 years, UC Berkeley administrators had taken a clear stance on free speech on its campus.

FSM Goals

The Free Speech Movement which began in Fall 1964 at UC Berkeley, evolved out of three issues:

The first student protests were Students being arrested at UC Berkeley 1964 FSPorganized sit-ins based upon a variety of federal, state, and local political issues.

Consequences of the FSM:Political cartoon of Reagan going after the UC System

  1. Students and faculty at UCBerkeley worked together, largely against the administration, to force the campus to accept their on-campus access to free speech.
  2. University campuses across the nation accepted free speech and many delegated specific areas on their campuses where the students could exercise their rights.
  3. The FSM brought all the civil rights issues - black, red, and brown power, womens' movement, counterculture - into the living rooms of all Americans and in so doing, encouraged some citizens to truly understand the civil rights issues of the late 20th Century.
  4. Student protests were not able to stop the multiversity movement.
  5. Ronald Reagan came to office as governor in 1967 pledging to do two things:
  6. Since 1970, the cost of tuition in both the UC and CSU has dramatically risen.

Today, it is too late to totally turn our backs away from the requirements of the multiversity or the consequences of Reagan's policies. Instead, we need to learn how to pursue competing goals simultaneously and create something new in American higher education - a unique institution that has the muscle and energy and creative intelligence of Kerr’s multiversity, while retaining the spirit, the soul, and the academic rigor of the university.

Goal #5: To follow the various campus protest movements that occurred in California during the 1960s.

Students for a Democratic Society. the Weather Underground, the Anti-War Movement, the Counter Culture Movement, and the Black Panthers

1. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was founded in 1960 with two major goals: to create a student power base that could eradicate campus injustice, and to open college and university campuses to free speech about campus issues and true political issues. Their activities and type of protest evolved over the next eight years. Fight US Imperialism Join SDS poster

2. The Weather Underground. The Weather Underground - originally composed of 11 New York and Midwestern activists and intellectuals - believed that America could only be changed through revolution. They were the first group of student protesters who explicitly turned to violence; their membership was always small and never numbered over 100 active members. The original 11-member core composed a programmatic thesis - "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows" - a 16,000 word paper. Throughout 1969, members arranged anti-war demonstrations, all designed to complement the national campaign known as "The Days of Rage."

3. In February and March of 1965, the Anti-War Movement began in California when citizens marched on the Oakland Army Terminal which was the departure point for many troops bound for Southeast Asia. Throughout the year, anti-war activists promote teach-ins on California campuses which were designed to Photo of anti-war protestbring faculty members into the antiwar movement; symposiums to debate the moral basis of war; on-campus marches and silent vigils.

4. The Counter Culture movement - known variously as the Hippies and the Yippies - arose in 1965 and became quite popular in and around California universities and attracted primarily middle-class college students. Many young people simply "dropped out" and separated themselves from mainstream culture through their appearance and lifestyle. Attitudes toward sexuality appeared to loosen, and women began to openly protest the traditional roles of housewife and mother that society had assigned to them.

5. The Black Panther Party (BPP) was founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, along with four other young black men from Oakland, California. As shown in the photo Photo of original 6 Black Panthers Party members in 1966, members are from top left to right: Elbert "Big Man" Howard; Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman). Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).

Goal #5: To discuss some of the myths and realities about student radicals of the 1960s



Source: Reginald Zelnik and Robert Cohen (eds), The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s (2002). To hear about the FSM and the book and its authors, see Democracy Now at

Campus Turmoil

  1. The Free Speech Movement evolved out of three issues:
  2. Unfortunately for the student advocates of free speech, the movement to open campus up to political debate coincided with the belief of some university administrators that the modern university should be a "knowledge industry" in which the university and the work world were well aligned.
  3. Student unrest did not arise on American college campuses until students adopted new thoughts and attitudes about the university and their role within it - thoughts and attitudes that the vast majority of Americans perceived to be a rejection of American values and a threat to the well-being of American society.  In reality, however, such thoughts and attitudes did not challenge the veracity of American values, but rather  they were illustrative of the gap between espousing such values in principal and putting them to work in practice.
  4. Students in the early 1960s increasingly used civil disobedience to express their dissatisfaction. However, as the Sixties came to an end, a very small number of students who were dissatisfied with the results of the anti-war efforts and attempts to achieve more racial equality turned to violence.
  5. When the changes in educational goals, student roles, and measurements of student success are examined over the years, it becomes clear that the student protesters of the 1960s were not a bunch of radical revolutionaries, but instead, moved America forward into an evolutionary rather than revolutionary chapter in American history.
  6. The vast majority of young protesters were not young men and women Photo of student antiwar protestwho wanted radical change in American society; rather, they sought to gain their constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech on campus and they wished to fulfill the old promises of American society - they were all too aware of an increasing gap between what they felt to be important, desirable, and possible and what they knew to be reality.
  7. Regardless of public perceptions to the contrary, violent student radicals in the 1960s and early 1970s were never numerically strong and never posed any real revolutionary threat to the fabric of American life.     The perception of dangerousness was perpetrated by the media whose tendency was to capture the most visible images of dissent, and by the FBI whose paranoia and lack of real understanding created new "public enemies."
  8. By the beginning of the Seventies, most student unrest had become dormant, if not extinct. Why?
  9. The Sixties era of student protest, left some positive and permanent after effects. The decade pf protests: