To the Editors:
It is impossible in the space of a letter to clarify the entangled and now embittered conflicts that have kept San Francisco State College in crisis since early November. We are writing on behalf of the striking professors in whose company we have proudly marched the picket lines that commenced on January 6th and that have continued ceaselessly to this date in their dull, sometimes hazardous, but always necessary work. We are aware that from that date on we have just as ceaselessly been accused of being a minority of faculty opportunists riding on the student turmoil in order to swindle for ourselves such particular gains as reduced teaching loads, higher wages, and free parking, along with such generally subversive intentions as power for the local American Federation of Teachers.
We don’t believe there is any opportunism involved in being a minority. Neither do we believe that the identification as minority is sufficient reason for that minority to cease its action, shut up, and go away. We do admit to opportunistic action. We saw the opportunity to avoid mass murder on our campus, and we acted on behalf of that opportunity. We have so far been successful. We saw the opportunity to object effectively to the high-handed appointment of Hayakawa to the Acting Presidency, and we took it. And to this time we remain the only outspoken and organized agency to attack Hayakawa’s irresponsible and inflammatory mismanagement of the crisis. It is apparent by now that Hayakawa, provided with the paid services of a private PR man (donated, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, by Clement Stone, Chicago millionaire) is reaping a personal bonanza of TV and radio time, newspaper and magazine space. The general public now knows the name of this instant college president as it would that of a new mentholated cigarette, but it knows nothing of the enormity of the problems the college faces.
They are not the problems of San Francisco State college alone. The chaos here is exportable. Every tax-supported urban college in the country is vulnerable to it. And through our present struggle all such institutions can foresee whether they will go the way of Hayakawa and of repressive governmental powers that will mix politics with education, or gain an inch in the long march for meaningful faculty and student voice in faculty and student affairs.
The vast majority of the striking faculty has no other source of income than its teaching salary. One month of that is already sacrificed. Should the strike be settled tomorrow, there is already that indebtedness to make up. But as of now there is no foreseeable end to the strike, and the ability of the striking faculty to carry on in its cause is dependent on money to pay the rent and buy the food. All money raised by the striking teachers is to be shared with the culinary workers, the library assistants, and those of the clerical staff and student workers who support the strike and have left their campus jobs.
We would be grateful if you would forward such contributions as you can make as soon as you can to: American Federation of Teachers, Local 1352, 4097 19th Avenue, San Francisco, California, 94132 (Please make checks payable to AFT, Local 1352).
Ray B. West, Jr.
San Francisco State College
San Francisco, California
March 13, 1969