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A Message on the Proposed Solution to the Free Speech Controversy

from: Faculty Members of the University of California at Berkeley
to: Colleagues and Friends in the State-wide University
Members of Other Colleges and Universities
Fellow Citizens


On December 8, 1964, the Academic Senate (Berkeley Division) of the University of California proposed a solution to the current free speech controversy. By a vote of 824 to 115, the Senate, which is composed of faculty, deans, and directors, endorsed five propositions presented by its Committee on Academic Freedom.

The propositions are as follows:

In order to end the present crisis, to establish the confidence and trust essential to the restoration of normal University life, and to create a campus environment that encourages students to exercise free and responsible citizenship in the University and in the community at large, the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate moves the following propositions:

     1. That there shall be no University disciplinary measures against members or organizations of the University community for activities prior to December 8 connected with the current controversy over political speech and activity.

     2. That the time, place, and manner of conducting political activity on the campus shall be subject to reasonable regulation to prevent interference with the normal functions of the University; that the regulations now in effect for this purpose shall remain in effect provisionally pending a future report of the Committee on Academic Freedom concerning the minimal regulations necessary.

     3. That the content of speech or advocacy sbould not be restricted by the University. Off-campus student political activities shall not he subject to University regulation. On-campus advocacy or organization of such activities shall be subject only to such Iimitations as may be imposed under section 2.

     4. That future disciplinary measures in tbe area of political activity shall be determined by a committee appointed by and responsible to the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.

     5. That the Division urge the adoption of the foregoing policies and call on all members of the University community to join with the faculty in its efforts to restore the University to its normal functions.

What Do the Academic Senate's Propositions Involve?

     The solution requires very little change in the Regents' rules presently governing political activity in the University community. It is meant to apply only to the Berkeley campus. In line with the desire of the whole campus community to restore immediately the atmosphere of confidence and trust essential to our primary educational functions, the faculty has suggested one small but important procedural change -- that disciplinary jurisdiction over breaches of regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of student political activity be transferred to a committee of the Academic Senate. This change would restore a function which the Senate performed until 1938.

     There is much misunderstanding about existing University regulations on political speech, the desirability of modifications, and the present need for a just and responsible solution to the practical problems which beset the Berkeley campus. For this reason it is important that colleagues, friends, and the citizens of the state and nation understand what is at stake.

Nine Distinguished Members of the Faculty State Their Views

Philip Selznik, Chairman, Department of Sociology, and Chairman, Center for the Study of Law and Society

     The action of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate upholds the highest ideals of university education and political life. It is a policy that is both right in principle and workable in practice. The Senate is not against rules and will not shrink from enforcing them. But these rules, and the policies that lie behind them, must fully reflect our commitment to a free society. This is the basis of the Senate's resolution, and that is why I support it.

Carl E. Schorske, Professor of History

     The primary task of the University of California has always been and must always be teaching, learning, and research -- not political activity. Our students, however, are citizens, and should enjoy the right to political expression and activity on the campus. That is all that the faculty resolution wishes to establish. Such is the proper division of authority for a university in a democratic society, whose youth are both students and citizens. The University must regulate the time, place, and manner of this exercise so that it does not interfere with the main functions of the academic community, but it cannot regulate content. Illegal acts or expression should be punished by the law; offenses against the University community should be punished by the University.

Joseph Tussman, Chairman, Department of Philosophy

     The crisis through which we are passing involves at least three sets of problems. First, there are problems resulting from recent attempts to resolve what is essentially a moral and spiritual crisis by the use of radically inappropriate means -- the attempt to deal coercively and punitively with the problems of mind and spirit. In this field we may hope, I believe, that the spirit of amnesty will now prevail.

      Second, there are problems arising out of the quality and scope of University regulations governing speech, assembly, and political or social action by members of the academic community.

     Third, there are problems arising from fundamental defects in the living constitution of the University, in the relations between students, faculty, and administrators, and in the general structure of authority.

     Permanent peace and health will not be easily attained. But the propositions before us are a good beginning. I think they are all necessary.

     I will comment only upon point 3, which provides "That the content of speech or advocacy should not be restricted by the University. Off-campus student political activities shall not be subject to University regulation. On-campus advocacy or organization of such activities shall be subject only to such limitations as may be imposed under Section 2."

     This rule will obviate most of the difficulties in this sensitive area. It is a sensible rule. But I think we should regard it as more than just a "sensible rule," as more than a way of avoiding tough administrative problems, and even as more than a rule which protects important "rights." We should regard it, and support it, as symbolizing the fundamental commitment of the University to its own essential nature. For it expresses the conviction that ours is an institution whose proper mode of dealing with the mind is educational, not coercive. We are not the secular arm. If we have forgotten this we should be grateful to those who are now reminding us.

Josephine Miles, Professor of English

     The motto of the University of California is Let There Be Light. The greatness of the University depends upon the help of the people of California in keeping this light shining full and free. When it is obscured by competing restrictions, we get the darkness and confusion of the present situation.

     Parents are to be honored for having sent us in recent years students who are profoundly concerned with the freedom of knowledge and opinion. They realize that freedom and stability are complementary, not contradictory, and fear that both have been recently impaired.Misunderstandings have been created partly by the intensity of the students, and partly by the slowness of some of their elders to respond to their needs with full comprehension.

     The faculty has necessarily taken up the task of interpreting students to the community and clarifying its own principles: The principles are three:

     Advocacy: every citizen's constitutional right to express his beliefs; his right to speak and be heard without the limitations set upon action.

     Academic responsibility: the Academic Senate's establishing of a committee on conduct.

     Amnesty: the recognition of misjudgments on all sides, and of the serious moral purpose of the students' crusade, in which a majority of the students, and many of the best, are participating.

     Faculty members favor reading lists; mine is as follows: John Milton's Areopagitica, Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self Reliance, and the Constitution of thc United States of America.

George J. Maslach, Dean, College of Engineering, and S. A. Schaaf, Chairman, D˘partment of Mechanical Engineering

     Along with most of the rest of the Berkeley Engineering Faculty, we voted for the five-point report of the Academic Freedom Committee on Tuesday, December 8. This report recommends a long needed and basic clarification of policy on student discipline in the area of freedom of speech and political activity. In essence it will lead to new regulations under which legal restraints on speech will be dealt with in the civil courts rather than by means of extra-legal University disciplinary procedures.

     The Berkeley Senate's policy recommendation is the direct follow-up of the substance of the interim administrative agreement made between all Berkeley Department Chairmen and President Kerr, which was announced to the entire Berkeley campus community at the Greek Theatre meeting on Monday.

Owen Chamberlain, Professor of Physics and Nobel Laureate

     Before the disorder of recent days can be overcome, it would seem that the Administration and the Faculty must indicate that they have heard what the students have been talking about.

     The students are not well impressed by the world as they see it. They see much that is wrong, as I am sure most of us do. They feel it their privilege -- indeed, their responsibility -- to take steps to make changes in an undesirable pattern. They feel that many of society's ills are urgent matters whose cure should not be postponed. They feel their position as citizens and feel the necessity of taking certain social action now -- not next year.

     The students -- particularly those most active politically -- feel the necessity of having their views heard, yet feel that within the spectrum of methods their elders would recommend to them there is little that would allow them the effectiveness that they feel their conviction warrants.

     While it is the claim of this University that it exists for the purpose of helping young people to become skilled and responsible citizens, the Administrationand Faculty have very often taken a rather paternalistic attitude toward the students. The students may rightly say that there can be no sudden transition, the day they receive their last academic degree, from dependent child to independent adult. They are insisting that they are young adults. They are insisting that they do carry responsibility. They are showing us that even such a simple matter as law and order on our campus depends upon them. They are asking that we recognize their views not just as the views of youth, but also the views of adulthood.

     They are saying that they are each responsible adults, taking full responsibility for their actions. They are saying they were not led blindly into political action. They are saying it is improper -- in their view immoral -- to separate out for punishment only the leaders.

     Here I come to what I think is the crux of the the view I am trying to express. In their code of morality they will not allow us the easy way out of punishing just the few who did the talking at a rally on campus. They insist that they are all responsible for whatever happened as a result of their united activity. They are saying that to punish only their leaders would be, in their view, immoral.

     I make no pretense of speaking for the students. I have spoken to very few of them. I have spoken to just enough of them to realize that some of our best students are supporters -- ardent ones -- of the FSM. I am trying to listen, and I ask you to listen. See if they are not saying: Respect our civil disobedience -- it is sometimes better than foregoing the rights you believe to be yours. Show us that we have the full rights of all citizens, whether we are this year on the learning end or the teaching end of the University. Show us that we are heard, when we act like adults, not always only lectured to. Show us you do not have to treat US always as children, but more as adults when we achieve adult skills and facility. Set for us an example of real intellectual integrity, the kind a university should be proud of. Show us that you can, if we insist, treat us like men and women, each responsible for his actions. Show us we do not have to be treated as children who now and then follow some "insidious" leader. Show us, please, that whether or not you approve of our form of morality, at least you have heard it.

Henry Nash Smith, Professor of English, and former Chairman of the Academic Freedom Committee of the Academic Senate (Berkeley Division and Statewide)

     I voted for the propositions for three principal reasons:

     1. The propositions are in conformity with the Constitution of the United States. As a layman I am guided by the opinions of colleagues who are experts in the field of law. All the legal scholars with whom I have discussed the matter have told me that the University has no constitutional (and therefore no legal) right to limit students' freedom of speech or political activity except in the manner indicated in.the second of the propositions -- by regulating "the time, place, and manner" of political speech ancd activity to the extent that may be necessary in order to "prevent interference with the normal functions of the University." The Council of the American Association of University Professors asked a committee to draft a statement concerning the academic freedom of students for consideration by the Council. This report -- published in the current (Autumn 1964) issue of the AAUP Bulletin -- asserts, "Students should enjoy the same freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly, and the right to petition the authorities, that citizens generally possess. Exercise of these rights on or off the campus should not subject them to institutional penalties.... When students run into police difficulties offthe campus in connection with what they regard as their political rights -- as for example, taking part in sit-ins, picket lines, demonstrations, riding on freedom buses -- the college authorities should take every practical step to assure themselves that such students are protected in their full legal rights and against abuse."

     2. Alternative policies are unworkable. A long series of efforts by the Administration of the University of California to devise University regulations preschibing the permissible content of student political speech and activity has convinced me thaht such efforts lead only to controversy and disturbance. The University is not equipped to draw up or to enforce criminal laws. Even if such an undertaking were warranted in principle, it would require the creation of an elaborate system of police and courts quite out of keeping with the functions of the University as an institution of teaching and research. Criminal prosecutions shouldbe left to the civil authorities. The students I have talked with understand fully that if they break the laws they must expect to be punished by the courts.

     3. The civil rights movement expresses the moral idealism of a whole generation of young Americans. Most of the students involved in the recent demonstrations believe they are working in behalf of a nationwide crusade for social justice, primarily in the area of rights for Negroes. I believe the University should be very slow to align itself against a movement enlisting the loyalties of so many young men and women in all parts of the country.

Thomas Parkinson, Professor of English

     There are two main issues in the proposals of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate. First, should advocacy of political action be restricted on the campus of a university? The Senate says in effect that if "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech," then a university should make no law abridging the freedom of speech. The content of speech should not be limited and its form should be regulated only insofar as necessary in order to allow the University to carry out its main functions. On this main point there seems to me little room for argument. There is no such thing as more or less freedom; men either have freedom or they do not, and limitation of the content of speech destroys freedom. What limitations there are on the content of speech are matters to be determined by the courts.

     Second, there is the question of whether or not there should be an amnesty for past student activity in discord with university regulations. On this last point it is my conviction that there should be a universal amnesty on the Berkeley campus, for students, faculty, and administration. Generosity of spirit is required from all members of the community, and the members of the community who have the greatest power, and therefore the greatest opportunity to make a large act of charity, are the members of the Board of Regents. Once that act is made, the campus can then continue its development with faith in its memberships' hope for a more glorious future, and charity for all: remembering from this point on that the greatest of these is charity.

Sponsored by Professors Henry Nash Smith, William Kornhauser, Sheldon Wolin, Charles Muscatine, Charles Sellers, and David Freedman, and prepared by a volunteer committee of University professional staff. 


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