In response to:
Thoughts on Berkeley from the January 14, 1965 issue
Thoughts on Berkeley from the January 14, 1965 issue
To the Editors:
I understand Paul Goodman’s difficulty in writing about Berkeley from a distance, but there are things in his brief article that are really odd, when read on the scene:
“…when administration becomes the dominant force,…it is a sign that extra-mural powers are in control—State, Church, or Economy…” State was in control at the state university long before administration became dominant. Church, in any form, is banned. Administration’s dominance is not explained by the extra-mural power of the economy, unless Goodman means that the university requires a good deal of money to run, and the faculty prefers to cede the management of the budget to others, so long as their salaries are sufficient. The dominance of the administration is based on the facts of 18,000 undergraduates, 10,000 graduate students, 1500 faculty members, 200,000 grades per year, etc., etc. It is not the administrtion that imposes a system of education involving innumerable courses and examinations—it is the faculty. Nor is it the administration alone that hampers reform. It is the indifference to educational reform of both faculty and students.
“The Faculty, energized by the students, wants to resume prerogatives that it had given up to the administration, e.g., discipline.” Quite untrue. Read: “The Faculty, disturbed and frightened by administration ineptitude and mass student protest, was stampeded into demanding this right as the student price for peace.” The faculty is not interested in exercising student discipline over liquor, sex, cheating, and other things that they are happy to leave in the hands of the administration. Nor do they relish devoting endless time to hearings in which students and administration are represented by lawyers, and in which any normal lay intelligence finds itself overwhelmed by legal technicalities and political in-fighting. Mr. Goodman should come to one of these. Faculty discipline will become the pro forma activity of faculty members dragooned into it, or willing to waste their time at it. It will become another cog in the committee system that uses up faculty time and helps prevent student-faculty contact.
“At present in the United States, students—middle-class youth—are the major exploited class…they have no choice but to go to college.” Nonsense. Intelligent youth may accept the minimal income for freedom Mr. Goodman has so effectively argued for, and which the society provides. The non-student representative in the FSM Executive Committee estimated there are 3,000 non-students around the campus at Berkeley, who have done just this. Their families or the unemployment insurance system, or the many odd jobs around the university, or their friends support them. They may be unhappy, but not because they are being exploited. Mr. Goodman is making hash out of a useful and respectable word.
“The administration cannot agree to the faculty resumption of prerogatives, because…this could unmake the academic-factory…the faculty might hire or teach in disregard of Image, Endowments, or Research Grants.” More nonsense. The issue is politics, not education. The administration holds on to its prerogatives because it thinks the faculty is politically irresponsible and will get the university into trouble with the legislature. But not through anyone it hires or anything it teaches. It can and does teach Marx, Goodman, Genet, Mao Tse Tung, or what you will. And it hires anybody it wants. The point is, these are guilds of scholars and researchers. To make them act differently from the way they do does not require taking power away from the administration; it requires administrations strong enough and coherent enough to break up the conservative patterns of teaching and hiring that develop within the guilds. This makes a much less Arcadian picture than Mr. Goodman, I am afraid, would care to deal with.
The student uprising at Berkeley is indeed for very mature ends: the end of a powerful student political movement with impact on the community. The educational aims are less clear, but their clearest part is that the educational process should serve the political ends. This should not be so unfamiliar to us.
“…freedom of students to ask for what they need to be taught and if necessary to invite teachers.” A grand idea, and I am sure it would work wonderfully at Bennington or Black Mountain. The student movement here may turn into that. If it does it will find that the problem is the faculty, not the administration. And Mr. Goodman, in his fine book The Community of Scholars, agreed that one reasonable alternative approach to setting up a university was to have the faculty teach what it felt had to be taught, and the students could come, or not, as they wished. Perhaps we will have something new on the academic scene, a faculty transformed not by an administration, à la Hutchins, but by a student body. But if it is to happen at this university, with this student body and this faculty, it will be quite a fight.
Department of Social Sciences
University of California
If Nat Glazer believes his ending, that the Berkeley movement “may” turn toward fighting for an authentic community of scholars and that “perhaps” a faculty may be transformed by a student body, I am puzzled by the zeal with which he refutes me and calls my remarks Nonsense! rather than saying sadly and firmly, “Alas, not yet true; we must yet make it true.” In my article I was not sanguine: “The question will be whether there are enough professors who are concerned for the academic community” and “Given the supine history of American faculties and the present careerism of the important professors, the students must lead.” But there is a conflict in the students themselves between the causes that have made them more mature and their prior and present educational exploitation that tends to make them insecure and immature.
Nevertheless, the Faculty voted 7 to 1 for the students, and it seems to me presumptuous of Nat to call this being “frightened and stampeded.” I have been told, rather, that it was a Faculty reaction of nausea at the Administration lies, spineless subservience to outside pressures, infantile tantrums, avoidance of confrontation and calling the cops. I believe it, for it is this kind of nausea that indeed recalls decent but self-centered people to their plain duty. Besides, what about the 200 Faculty who supported the students from very early in the game? They were not stampeded. And most important, what about the almost unanimous support of the section-men and research-assistants, who took the greatest risks by striking?
I deeply trust that Faculty is not interested in exercising discipline over “liquor, sex, cheating, and other things.” For they are none of its damned business, nor Administration’s either. Surely Nat knows this; what is he up to? E.g., would he himself bother with grading if it were not administratively demanded?
And what are we to make of his denial that State and Economy have increased administrative dominance? Clark Kerr himself has said, “The university is being called on to respond to the expanding claims of national service, and to merge its activity with industry as never before [my italics]…It is a mechanism held together by administrative rules and powered by money.” This is true and Kerr likes it; the students don’t like it; and I call it exploitation of the young. By extramural power of the Economy I do not mean that it costs a lot of money to run a school, but simply such bashful items as 17 billions annually for Research and Development, of which 2 billions direct from Government to university and other billions through private contracted research in the universities; lots of money from the National Defense Education Act; the piratical raiding of name-professors in order to get contracts and foundation grants; the National Science Foundation’s Ph.D.-processing curriculum reforms for the lower schools; State and Economy underwriting, in the few dozen most prestigious schools, of from 40 per cent to 80 per cent of the total budget; the tuition-hikes and rent-gouges of the neglected undergraduates; the frontier testing for apprentice skills, and hot campus-recruiting by the corporations…Need I go on?
I am unimpressed by the theory that it is sheer numbers that have made administration dominant. Have administrations hastened to decentralize in order to lessen their burdens? Have they tried to discourage the popular superstition of school-going? Have they tried to shift the contracted research to non-academic institutes? No. They have acted as crude imperialists.
By “exploited class” I mean simply that the students’ powers and time of life are used for other people’s purposes; I am not making a hash of the word. Let us remember that 100 years ago, the young were exploited from 10 to 25 years of age in other kinds of factories. (Needless to say, middle-class youth are also pampered. but this merely confuses them in their exploitation.) The demand for Lernfreiheit is the student claim to learn intrinsically, when they are ready and what they are ready for, like free men. Surely Nat is not serious when he speaks of the freedom of middle-class youth to “accept the minimal income” instead of getting degrees, and he mentions the 3000 non-students in Berkeley. How oddly he puts it!—the “intelligent,” who have quit school, he says, are not exploited; he seems to be saying that those who are pressured into remaining in school are exploited, which is my point. But then why does he continue teaching there, among the stupid?
Finally, however, there is one profoundly important statement in Nat’s letter; and I am thankful for the chance to comment on it, which I failed to do in my original piece. He speaks of “the indifference to educational reform of both faculty and students.” This, it seems to me, is the crux for the future of the Berkeley movement as a mass-movement.
There is a dilemma. As I have repeatedly written, the majority of these youth ought not to be in a serious scholastic setting at all, for that is a very specialized way of growing up and does not suit most, including most of the bright. In the usual present-day university, my guess is that about 50 per cent are there only incidentally, with their attention mainly on (serious or frivolous) extra-curricular activities but they need the diploma; another 30 per cent are there like sheep because they have always gone to school and done lessons, and they are clinging to the routine for another four to six years; about 15 per cent are set on some diplomated career and want to get competitive grades and “master the subject”; and perhaps 5 per cent would like to learn something academically (and are hampered by the others). This does not provide a mass-base for academic reform! although there evidently has been a mass-base for civil liberties, (especially when energized by civil rights for Negroes) and for being treated as human beings and not manipulated.
But now that the Chancellor is gone and Senator Knowland no longer needs to have fits about the election and Proposition 14, how can the Free Speech movement live on? For the majority, the struggle against bureaucracy and exploitation cannot be posed as a claim to better teaching; it must be a claim to a more decent physical and social community of young people, less harried by petty mechanical tasks, and perhaps with more contact with the professors not as teachers but as likable friends and guides. That is, they ought to demand the B.A. at birth if it is economically necessary; or demand to be paid for doing onerous lessons; or attempt to destroy the illusion that a paper degree is good for anything, and quit the University and educate themselves in various other environments; or fight for the guaranteed decent income for everybody, with or without diploma, and meantime use the multiversity to practice cultured leisure and mount political actions. On the other hand, those who want to learn something ought frankly to conspire with favorable professors to teach them in freedom, and simply disregard the Administration as otiose. This is really quite easy, for in the essential, Administration is otiose. E.g., the professor can say at the opening class, “Everybody gets A; those who are not interested, need not attend; I’m not a constable and I don’t hand in names.” If the Administration attempts sanctions, the student community as a whole can proudly come to the defense of its proper scholars; and, it seems to me, the professors would have an academic freedom case. Lead the way, Nat! do you have Tenure?