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A Civil Right Movement

In 1964, before the FSM erupted on the campus, Berkeley was a renowned center for research in the humanities and social and natural sciences (Heirich 14). University president Clark Kerr envisioned the university as a prestigious research institution free from political controversy (Ruhaak 1). He therefore supported the administration policy - to limit political speech on campus - that would lead to the FSM. In furtherance of Kerr's aims, the school recruited many well-known scholars as teachers, with the enticement of strong research opportunities balanced by a reduced teaching load (Heirich 14). The result was that many tenured Berkeley professors taught few classes and were often absent from the school for research purposes.

At the same time, however, the prestige of these professors and Berkeley programs led to increased upper-class enrollments, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. The result was significant tension combined with a lack of communication in these departments between students and the administration (Heirich 14). One consequence of these conditions was a lack of communication between the students and school authorities, both faculty and administration. This is particularly significant for the FSM because the students being alienated were those likely to be most politically aware, those in the social sciences and arts (Heirich 16). On the other hand, the lack of communication meant neither side truly understood the other's position (Heirich 16).

In writing about the FSM, Leon Litwak notes that pre-FSM, Berkeley, like most other college campuses, "tended to be a white, middle-class enclave, a haven of privilege and conformity. Under these conditions, student activism was not simply inhibited, it was intimidated" (xiii). This means that students were not in the habit of protesting administration action or policy. The difference for the purposes of the FSM, however, was the availability of successful civ...

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A Civil Right Movement. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:37, November 28, 2015, from
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