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College Campus Chaos: A Little Background About This Endlessly Recurring Cycle

There has been much chaos occurring on college campuses recently. Some of the chaos is the work of students, some of it was instigated by faculty/staff, and some of it was due to outside agitators. And the college administrators were either slow to deal with the problem, if dealing with it at all.

But such chaos is nothing new. In fact, it started back in the 1960s with the student radicals, who in fact were Communist activists. Many of them were “red-diaper babies”- children of Communist Party members who would dominate the leadership of various student radical organizations. They focused on two issues of the 1960s- Civil Rights and the Vietnam War.

One particular college campus experiencing such radicalism was the University of California at Berkeley with the free speech movement, a movement that emerged in response to the university’s ban on various political organizations. Such a ban was in place due to the administrators’ policy on students focusing on academics instead of politics, although Cal-Berkeley was hardly a politically repressive campus. In fact, the same could probably be said for other colleges and universities.

At any rate, the free speech movement kicked off in 1964, when a group of student radicals occupied the administration building, thus preventing students, faculty, and staff from going to the dean’s office. Their leader, Mario Savio, believed Cal-Berkeley was doing the bidding of big business. The police were called, and when they arrived, Savio bit a police officer’s leg. Savio and several other students were suspended, but nonetheless continued to lead protests on campus. As a result, another student radical named Jack Weinberg followed suit when he and his fellow activists set up a table in front of the administration building to promote civil rights, despite not having permission to do so. The police were called, and when Weinberg was asked to identify himself, he refused and was arrested. Other student radicals showed up and blockaded the police car to prevent him from being taken to jail. Meanwhile, Savio and other radicals stood on the police car’s roof and gave speeches for over a day. The police did nothing, which emboldened the radicals, despite other students showing up and voicing their support for the police. Weinberg was later released without any charges being filed against him.

Such action resulted in the formation of a free speech movement steering committee, whose membership included the student radicals. They would again set up shop in front of the administration building and handed out political pamphlets. The university’s board of regents (who had not taken any disciplinary action against the student radicals) held a meeting and rejected any requests for political activism on the campus. Despite this decision, the student radicals (knowing that they probably wouldn’t be punished) held another protest by occupying the administration building. The university’s chancellor, Edward Strong, responded by having the California Highway Patrol remove the protesters, but not before he gave them a chance to avoid punishment by asking them to leave the building before the police arrived. They refused, and several hundred of them were arrested.

Just when it seemed the student radicals who had been causing havoc on campus would face any disciplinary action, the opposite occurred when the University of California system’s president, Clark Kerr, told the student body that none of the protesters would be punished. Meanwhile, the faculty at Cal-Berkeley voted to allow political activism on the campus. In addition, a proposal on prohibiting intimidation, threats, or violence was rejected. Such action would further embolden the student radicals, who ironically were only a small group on the campus.

Other colleges and universities would face similar turmoil, and later on such radicals would become professors themselves, thus spawning more student radicals via indoctrination. As a result, such activism would be repeated in the years to follow, up to the present day.

Thus, history has repeated itself.

Andrew Linn

Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to and Right Impulse Media.