Three Views of the University

Against the Current, No. 35, November/December 1991

The Liberal View

“The University is being called upon … to merge its activities with industry as never before. Characteristic of this transformation is the growth of the knowledge industry which is coming to permeate government and business and to draw into it more and more people raised to higher and higher levels of skill. The production, distribution and consumption of knowledge is said to account for 29% of the gross national product And knowledge production is growing at about twice the rate of the rest of the economy.” —UC President Clark Kerr

The Conservative View

“There were things that shouldn’t be permitted on a university campus. Let me just read a few excerpts.

“The total crowd at the dance was in excess of 3000 including a number of less than college-age juveniles. Three rock and roll bands were in the center of the gymnasium playing simultaneously all during the dance. And all during the dance movies were shown on two screens at the opposite ends of the gymnasium. These movies were the only lights in the gym proper. They consisted of color sequences that gave the appearance of different color liquids spreading across the screen, followed by shots [of] men and women’s nude torsos on occasion, and persons twisted and gyrated in provocative and sensual fashion.” —California Governor Ronald Reagan

The Student Response

“I ask you to consider, if this [university] is a firm, and if the Board of Regents is the Board of Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I’ll tell you something, the faculty are a bunch of employees and we’re the raw materials. But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to have any process upon us, don’t mean to be made into any product, don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone. We’re human beings.

“There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part-And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears, upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” —Mario Savio prior to the massive FSM sit-in, December 2,1964

November-December 1991, ATC 35