Assignment America; 125; Berkeley: Where Have All the Rebels Gone?
House on the outskirts. I am better and better I am going to be much better in coming here. I think everybody got turned off by the violence. Students, police, everybody didn't accomplish anything and after it's all over with all they had was you know damaged property and a lot of the damage um. Egos. [female speaker] We try to organize we try to um have rallies. But a lot of people don't participate. [male speaker] No that's all you hear all this talk about how the students have given up on the system. I think that's entirely artificial, after all it's the only system they've got. [music] [Maya Angelou] Hello, I'm Maya Angelou. Here on the Berkeley campus of the
University of California a campus where things have tended to happen first. On this beautiful spring day with students going to and from classes and basking in the sun, it's hard to imagine that a kind of revolution took place here at Sproul Plaza a little more than 10 years ago. Here students first challenged authority. In this case the university administration over the issue of student's right to bring politics to the campus. The Free Speech Movement. [song with guitar playing] Let me you a tale of campus sin of tables and regents and a big sit in. The day the students built a mountain, toppled a police car near Ludwig's Fountain,To find law and order. Thinking God forbid It all started out near Sather Gate. September 30th was the fateful day. The rebels ?sands team? cans in hand a threat to traffic on the region's land. Sabotaged by
the ISC, the Intercampus ?Slate? Conspiracy. The rebels were ousted, the tables banned, the deans thought they had won their hand. Then came a sight they never thought they'd see, a genuine sit-in at the halls of big C. Civil disobedience [song over, guitar stops]. [Host]: Betina ?Apticka? was one of the students. [Host]: What was the Free Speech Movement all about? [Guest]: Well it was about I think about a generation. That uh, had been abused, humiliated, suffered many indignities, a loss of identity and it was in the first place the assertion of a generation of their right to live and of their humanity. It came historically, mmm [clears throat] at the moment when they we had the rebirth of the modern black liberation movement. And what that inspired in
thousands and thousands of white students, who saw amongst the black people the kind of identity that they themselves wanted to assert. So the two movements collided. That of the students of a new generation. and a black movement that has been going on for centuries. [Host]: I was going to ask you if you thought the students of today were as socially conscious as the students of your student generation. [Guest]: I think so. I want to say one thing, but everyone's been pronouncing the death of the student movement that's been going on. Obituaries were being written by the late-'60s and have continued. One thing I'd like to say is that the student movement of the 60s didn't die it was murdered. It was murdered by a ruling class that made a decision, that it had gone too far, that had overstepped the bounds of what they were willing to tolerate. And if you consider the murder of the students at Kent State, in May of 71 [Host]: Right. [Guest]: which was at the height of the invasion of Cambodia and consider as a single event
also the murder of the black students at Jackson State, which happened within a few days of Kent, [Host] Of each other, yes. [Guest] That was to be the coup de gras to the student movement of the '60s. [Host]: Uh-huh. [Guest]: And I think that the Nixon administration made that decision and carried it out. And a wave of terror swept the campuses. And what I think is very important to understand is that this generation which has now come into the campuses is very aware very concerned, very willing to act, but also very aware of the power that can be arrayed against them and that's what my generation didn't know. [Host]: The Free Speech Movement triggered a succession of eruptions at campuses across the country. At first, Civil Rights was the main issue. But as the United States increased its involvement in Vietnam, protests focused on the war, with increasing larger participation. [two gun shots] Other campuses saw more violence but few saw a wider range of protest activity than Berkeley. [claping, ?protesters chanting various things?]
[protesters singing "We Shall Overcome"] We are not afraid today. Oh, deep in our heart... [cars driving by] [flute plays in background] [Host]: Today the campus mood is difficult to gauge accurately. Knapsacks are more prominent than picket signs and most students seem more worried about
jobs than causes. [male voice]: When you've got 18,000 people that are getting grades [musical horn stops] so they can get jobs and there's no jobs out there, and the grades have to be better, your concerns shift. [female voice]: People are out to do as well as they can, and and they don't care, "sigh", how they go about doing it for a lot of people. If that means a lot of cheating on tests, that means going to the library and ripping out all the reserved readings before other people can read them, uh. Just doing a lot of "um", drastic things. that you wouldn't have found, you know, a couple a years ago. [New Male Voice]: I think think white or black, uh, the competition for jobs is extremely hard. Extremely hard. And again, it all turns on grades and whether or not you make Law Review. [New Male Voice]: They're much more interested in, you know, why they're here why they're here to learn, and, uh, so,
the atmosphere is, uh-ah, it's much more pleasant teaching again. It was very difficult, uh, you know five, six years ago. Very difficult. [New Female Voice]: There's more tolerance, um. You the demonstrations you see on Sproul Plaza, which is the main center of campus are, um partially political. But there are also cultural, and other type things too. [New Male Voice]: I think one thing one often, uh, reads and hears is, quite mistaken. And that is people often say that the mood of the students has returned to that of the 1950s. That seems to me exactly wrong. The mood then was both apathetic and somewhat frivolous. That's certainly not the case now. Um, students are more insecure now about their professional prospects because of the recession and the uh, uh, general decline in job opportunities. and that as they say concentrates the mind wonderfully. [New Male Voice]: If you walk through the, if you walk through the, uh, plaza down here you see anything but apathy. You see tables. You see, uh, all kinds of, uh religious and political causes being, uh, being pressed. But
one of the things about, uh, the Berkeley student, I dare say it's possibly true of, uh, students across the country, is the feeling that they've seen it all. [shouting in background]: Apathy party represents the students that don't care. [Another Male Voice]: That's it. [Students shouting]: We all care. It doesn't matter which side of the fence you [trails off] [Apathy Party Voice again]: Apathy party! We've got the widest base of nonsupport of any group on campus. [Male Voice]: I mean after all the, the uh, the elec-electricity and the excitement of the '60s filtered down into the high schools, and, uh, students began to pick this up. And so what's new about some cult out here advertising its wares? Uh, in that sense there's also an apathy. [background student talking] [Host]: Apathy? Maybe. But in the spring of 1975, some students were still worked up. It was the issue that had changed. Where Vietnam and the draft once occupied ?Disbrow? debate today, campus bookstore rebates were the big issue. [Protester Speaking]: into the textbook department for a discount only for students [Male Voice]: The issue there is whether or not the profits from the bookstore will go to the students
or whether it will go to the Senate. And whether or not the Senate decides where it goes. [Male Voice]: Some of the profits from the discount book from the bookstore, which you're trying to make a discount bookstore. Some of that profit goes into the matching of of CSBC funds. Those,uh, those monies go into Community Service. Students on this campus; 1,500 students that are volunteering include a community project. [Male Student]: I'm from the Bull Moose party. I'm running for Senate. [Interviewer] What's happening? Tell us about it. [Bull Moose Male] Well, we're two students running for the ASU Senate, we're doin' just started our party up a year ago. We're, we only run Senate offices, we don't run any executive offices at all. All our, uh, our issues are right here. We're having a free lunch handout this afternoon if you can name the student, two students, running for Senate on our candidate. We're against the Student Discount Bookstore because, uh, we figure that if teachers would teach instead of end up writing their books, which gets them tenure, then we wouldn't need any books at all. [New Speaker] The Party of Third World Progressive Peoples, Blacks, Chicanos, Asians, Native Americans, and progressive students on this campus. Who have come together believing that student government should stand for something. And should work towards something. Some of the things that we have dealt with this past year are Affirmative Action
We believe that the University has not addressed itself toward meaningful Affirmative Action, but instead has taken the road of minimal compliance. And we believe that stronger... [Interviewer] What are you setting up for? [Young Socialist] The Young Socialist Alliance Table. Young Socialists for ASU Senate. [Interviewer] Is there much interest on campus now? [Young Socialist] Oh yeah, yeah. Still quite a bit. [Interviewer] What, what are the, what are the issues now that? [Young Socialist] This is ?Rae Corbata?. She's our candidate for ASUC President. (to Rae) Why don't you talk to her. [Rae Corbata] Well, mainly that ASUC hasn't been responsive to students' needs. So, that a lot of students really aren't interested in the elections. But we think we're offering an alternative, uh, in this election. The Socialist alternative is looking for the abolishment of ROTC completely off campus. We don't think that military has any right to free speech. It has no rights to be on an educational institution recruiting toward... [Now speaking on a loudspeaker] We say ROTC must be off campus
now. This is not an academic question. The standards of the University are bogus standards. The training ground for the military leaders of the Imperialist Army must be abolished. [Male voice] Camouflage is the science of altering your body, and your equipment, so that it conforms to the natural terrain around you. Notice how my attendant, or, my assistant, very skillfully applies the camouflage. Later he'll rub it in, to assure that no areas of my face, are left white. Or left in such a fashion that I maybe, be observed by the enemy. [Car engine sounds] I am now ready for a combat patrol. This, uh, the military aspects that you see here, are, um, are necessary things that, uh, that a society has to learn to protect itself these
days. And although I hope that I'll never have to use them, I, uh, I want to make sure that somebody knows how to use them. Somebody who's competent. Somebody who's not irresponsible. And, um, the guys that you see here, my friends, I think myself, I think we have those, those qualifications. Because we're not irresponsible. Somebody has to do it. [Male] Here you go. Why don't you hold onto that? You can hand it out. Thanks a lot. [Interviewer] Alright, just a second, I wanna ask one more question. [Male handing out stuff] Yeah, [Interviewer]Uh, you're in, you're in a pin stripe suit [Male handing out stuff] Yes. [Interviewer] with a carnation? [Male handing out stuff] Yes [Interviewer] and a necktie. [Male handing out stuff] Yes. [Interviewer] Uh,That looks like establishment. [Male handing out stuff] No. We're for Teddy Roosevelt all the way. [Narrator] Where Vietnam and Civil Rights had once absorbed student activities, today students are channeling their energies into such activities as student counseling. [Female speaking Spanish] Si, porque no tienes que ?paratan de?. It's not like you think it is. It's a lot of surprises. You're gonna be facing the bureaucracy
of the school. Okay? That means you should put full force into it. Um. You should live around campus, especially for your first year, until you get used to exactly what's happening inside. Now one step is known. You can live at home if you want to. [New Female Voice] ?Truly. Dwinelle[?] Hall over there. That's where the class is that your gonna come to. [Narrator] Community activities, such as the Elderly Companionship Program, where students help brighten the days of senior citizens, have largely replaced the mass protests of the '60s. [Older Male] So I, I asked him, Well, if you, uh, if you want to give me a, uh, a young companion, uh, send down to the house somebody that's flunking out, down and out, discouraged and wants to quit college. And maybe I could, eh, give them a boost. Because, uh, I was that kind of a student too. Ups and downs. So they sent me Chris. who doesn't need any help.
[Female student] I think now students are getting, um, in touch with the idea that, um, old people and young people both have, um a a lot of the same problems. Simply because they are not in the mainstream, the middle of the road. Neither one of them are. And as far as, um, financial problems and just, um, Civil Rights, and, and human problems, they, they're very much, um, have the same concerns. [Narrator] Instead of Sproul Plaza, the greatest crowds now seem to congregate at the library, and in round-table seminars where recently accepted graduate students give tips to those trying to follow in their footsteps. [Graduate student]... every Medical Class, will be about, I think, the mean, was, just somebody in the Admissions Office said, it's about a year older now than what it was last year. And it's changing because a lot of people have done what you've done. They've, A lot of peo-people, Not everybody is the archetype person goes through high school and then goes, knows right away, boom, "I wanna be a doctor." Do it in
three or four years and they're in. And it works to your advantage if you can make it look you can make it look coherent. If you can make your past look coherent relative to what you want to do now. Why you want [Other male voice] That's the point. That's what is going to be difficult. I'll have to explain to people that I've gone from one profession to the other seeking financial security and, and stability of profession. Not just financial security, but professional security if you know what I mean. The fact that doctors are a necessary part of the society, you know, it's either lawyers or doctors or people who have a socially, uh, viable position whether it's lucrative or not. Now that's, that's, that's exactly my problem. That's the conclusion I've come to. You know, well, why? How is my life coherent? What has it been leading to? [Graduate Student] But you want to do is ask yourself, "Why should a medical school admit you over other people?" And if you can't think of any good reason why, you're in trouble. [Narrator] Traffic is also heavy at the campus placement office, which tries to find employment for students. Unfortunately, there are more applicants than
jobs. [Female job seeker] It's tight. There's There's very few jobs. Unless you're specifically training in a popular field. Or popular as far as the job market is concerned. If you're an accountant or you're a doctor or, uh a few other things, than you've got it made. And if you're not one of those people, then you don't have it at all. And it's a joke. It really is a joke. You know, I know so many people just like me, who are, you know, have their degrees, are mail carriers or [door slam in background] secretaries or typists. Doing jobs that, you know, that they're not interested in, would rather be doing something else, but they can't get into their field. If I can't find anything, eventually I'm gonna go back to school. Not that I want to, but, uh, you know, you can only take being told, "No", so long. [Flute music] [Narrator] Those who
say the campus today is a throwback to the '50s, like to point to fraternities and sororities as evidence for their theory. [Background voice] cars and Berkeley don't mix, Man. But those who have joined say what is happening now is quite different. [Sorority member] I was never going to join a House. And um, I had the idea that they, all the girls are really rich and you had to have certain kinds of outfits, and you had to go with certain boys, and be invited to certain parties, and all of that's changed. That was in the '50s, I think. And today, um, girls come from all different backgrounds, and all different interests, and join sororities. And I think you'll find that the houses, ah, cannot be stereotyped. And there's individuals in all different houses. [Fraternity member] Before students would really get together about, you know, the war effort, and stuff like that or how to stop the war, actually. And now, fraternities are really on the comeback, because that's ended. And it's, it's the new way for the students to get together. [Sorority member] The, uh, sororities have a common purpose, a goal. When you go into a certain house,
you all have a common feeling of togetherness or purpose, rather than just having a place to live and eat. [Fraternity member] You know, you join a frat and meet new friends, or, you know, sorority exchanges and you meet girls and stuff. And it works out pretty nice. [Sorority member] Um, There are more very casual exchanges. Oh, a fraternity will ask a sorority over, and it isn't a high-pressure date situation. The girls just go over and mix with the guys and get to know them, um, on a friends basis. And this reflects too, I guess, you know, a change, in um, oh, the values or activities of sorority or fraternity life. [drums playing in background] [Fraternity member] Within the fraternity is individuality. At least in our fraternity we try it [Other member] Yeah [Fraternity member] to make individuality. We don't really like to conform to any type of mold, or um, any type of preset idea that someone has of us. [Sorority member] I'm so glad that I am a Kappa Kappa Gamma. Rooty toot for KKaG. That's all you get. [male student] Fraternities are great, as a community system. But, let me tell you, the pseudo-socialist scene, I don't know, it's not for me. [crowd noise]
[Fraternity member]Academics are the most important thing. You might not be able to tell that by everyone here partying on a Thursday night, but, um Academics, just, everyone is here to get a good education. I think you'll find, that the people who come to Cal are very successful people in the future. You know, we're the leaders of tomorrow. [Narrator] In trying to assess the mood of Berkeley today, we brought together four students who are actively involved in a wide range of campus activities. Peter Skewes Cox is a junior who is president of a leading fraternity. Cindy Catanaga writes for "The Daily Californian", the campus newspaper. Vincent Cohen is a law student, and nominee for student representative on the California Board of Regents. Cynthia Tuttleman is a pre-med major who has been accepted in medical school. I wonder, do
any of you identify with the people, wuh, of the generation, 11 who were here on this campus, 11 years ago? Do you remember their names? Or do you know any of their names? No. [Tuttleman] Yeah, I, I In terms of identifying with them, I can identify with wanting to change the university, but, um I think that they were very different than a lot of us probably. And came from a whole different background and a whole different mindset with, um, different goals. But, uh, I don't know, the thing that happened 10 years ago, seemed to be flashy. I mean, I think the things that people are doing now are not flashy. They're the kinds of, um, digging in students who are working, who are doing things, are sort of digging in for the long haul. And realize that change does not come quick. And that you go out, and you work in the community. And it's, and people don't hear about it all the time, and, um it's not the kinds of things that, ah, that shows up, the way things used to.
[Narrator] I see. Mr. Cohen, what do you feel about that? [Cohen] I think that kind of evolution, you find individuals, uh, who are continually moving forward. And we're continually learning by, uh, the daring deeds of, of people in the past. And, uh, people who are, who are using their tactics, um, to, in different ways. Or who are using new tactics, based on the, uh, the gains that they, uh, that they won. I think there's definitely there's some doors that were opened in terms of, uh, Affirmative Action in admissions, and that, that kind of thing, that, that, now it's, it's necessary to, to consolidate some of those, some of those gains. So yeah, I think it is a cycle. [Narrator] Yeah. Now, I'm told that there is extreme competitive, uh, eh, spirit extreme competition today, or these days, on campus. Ah, do you, do you find that that's conducive to an, a healthy social
atmosphere, Mr. Skewes-Cox? [Skewes-Cox] Um, We've been discussing a large number of students who are considered as activists. But, I think that, that is still the minority. In fact, the majority of the students here are actively pursuing their studies. They're very, in a very competitive manor. Um, everybody's aware of the economic situation, and everybody, a lot of people, want to get jobs. Enrollment in, ah, courses that are pre-professional, is way up. Uh. The School of Business Admin- -istration is, has many more applications than it can handle. There are many many pre-meds and pre-law students on this campus. And a lot of them, in fact, uh, are totally apolitical. And, uh, one of my criticisms of the people that are active, and on the left, is that there's not enough effort to, uh, involve more people, uh, to really get things done. Like uh, the Vietnam War, uh, you had to involve large masses of people in these
struggles. And now, I think, uh, uh, there's no real focus for these activities. There's Affirmative Action. There's, uh, there's, uh, there's other more minor struggles, but there's been no real unified action on the part of the students, themselves, to really change things. [Narrator] Mr. Cohen, it's said, that uh, there's a great deal of apathy in today's students. Do you agree with that? [Cohen] Well, I don't know if it's so much apathy, as it is getting about the business of living. Ah, living the life of a student, of an individual, individual kinds of growth processes, uh, going on perhaps more so, than kinds of collective political, uh, activity. But there are still significant percentages of the student population that are very active, and not apathetic at all. In fact, I think, working harder, in many cases, than they were before. [Narrator] Now, Miss Catanaga, When, uh, when we hear that the
students were so moved by Watergate, we sometimes hear that they were moved to inaction. [Catanaga] I disagree. [Narrator] I see. [Catanaga] There are, um, there are many students on this campus who are, like Ben[?] says, very active. And the area in which I know best is Affirmative Action. There are feminists on this campus, there are minority students who are very involved and that, that is, by the way, a euphemism, Affirmative Action. But there are many students, uh, minorities and feminists who are very involved, and, have made, um, as much headway as they can in, in the University bureaucracy in, um, attaining the goals of ending or trying to remedy discrimination on this campus. [Narrator] I must thank you all very much for spending this time with me. It was a lovely afternoon. In the sixties we were told that youth was leading the country. Upon closer
observation, it appears, that youth was reflecting the country's moods. The anti-war feeling spread farther and deeper than the campus boundaries, as two presidents painfully discovered. If youth today are concerned about jobs, about the economy, they are merely articulating the primary concerns in this country. In the '60s we dreamed. We thought our protest would change the entire future. Today, with the backlash of practicality upon us, if youth will be served, they will be served security. I am Maya Angelou. [Folk music plays] For a transcript of tonight's program please send $1 to
Assignment America, WNET 13, Box 345, New York, New York 10019. [Synthesizer music plays]
- Assignment America
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- WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.)
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- Episode Description
- In this episode of Assignment America, Maya Angelou contrasted the differences between Berkeley's student activities of a decade ago with present members of that university's student body. Students reflect on how priorities have shifted to academics, career opportinities, student support systems, campus politics, and a more subdued form of activism. The episode touches on how larger cultural, economic, and political changes in America have shaped new campus attitudes. This episode's original date was listed as 6/17/75 but has been changed to 6/24/75 to reflect episode content.
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Interviewer: Angelou, Maya
Producer: Kayan, Cynthia
Producing Organization: WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.)
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Thirteen - New York Public Media (WNET)
Identifier: wnet_aacip_3177 (WNET Archive)
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- MLA: “Assignment America; 125; Berkeley: Where Have All the Rebels Gone?.” 1975-06-24. Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-75-39k3jf98>.
- APA: Assignment America; 125; Berkeley: Where Have All the Rebels Gone?. Boston, MA: Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-75-39k3jf98