Berkeley now does not compare to memories of Berkeley then

In 1968, my cousin Susan was attending UC Berkeley. I am sure this was a life-altering event for her, but it was also a life-altering event for me, a 10-year-old girl. While visiting my cousin in the summer of 1968, she started talking to me about the Vietnam War. I was young and really did not understand the whole war situation. Susan became part of the courageous student movement to protest the wasteful, unjustified war that was killing many people who were the same age as the college students. Susan explained that the students at Berkeley were some of the first to protest, and they did not stop protesting until the older generation in charge could no longer ignore the protests. Those students at Berkeley and at other universities changed history. My life was changed because of the admiration I felt for the students who were standing up to their government. I no longer accepted things as “just the way it is.” Those students at Berkeley in the 1960s should be proud of their place in history.


I am writing this because I am now sad and not impressed with the current students at Berkeley. Why haven’t the students continued with the Berkeley heritage of standing up and trying to protest wrong actions from their government? Our country has been involved in another wasteful, unjustified war for more than 10 years now, and I have not heard about protests at Berkeley or any other university to the degree that the 1960s students protested. The current students at Berkeley could start a monumental movement that may force the leaders of our country to end this nonsensical war. I do what I can by voting in members of Congress who have stated that they are against prolonging this war. But there is no group that could actually make a difference and be heard in great numbers than students at universities. I have been waiting and waiting to hear on the news stories that Berkeley students are again taking the lead and standing up against a war that will never be won and ultimately be thought of as another Vietnam tragedy. Are the current students not willing to continue the brave tradition of fighting for what is right by sustained protests? If not, why not? Do the current students not feel like they have a stake in our country’s future? Are they so self-consumed that they no longer care about anything but their own future? What happened at Berkeley in the 1960s changed my entire view of life. It’s too bad young kids now aren’t going to have that same great experience.

Diane Dell’Andrea

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  • thompson_richard

    why cant they be like we were — perfect in every way

  • Darryl

    Because today’s students are rectalcranial inverts? Just a theory…

  • anthonystjohn63

    The fact is times have changed completely and this is an entirely different country and world than it was in the 1960s.

    All of our political, economic, social, educational and religious institutions are now controlled by the Power of Money and Propaganda.

    The best way to make the right things happen today is for UC professors and scholars to unite in an effort to protect and perpetuate an acceptable long-term future quality of life around the world from continuous attacks of destruction against equality for all, the environment, our democracy, and our institutions.

    • Darryl

      Principles never go out of style, dummy.

  • Pixilicious

    The ’60’s & early ’70’s were a time of idealism and change and folks believed they could make a difference. The free-speech movement, the civil-rights movement, Roe v. Wade, and the oral contraceptive brought the vestiges of a new type of freedom to all and no group was more empowered than college students. There, of course, was also the draft and the concept that the government could kill you with impunity only added to the fervor of the time.

    Now — 40 years beyond that time — with the draft gone, STI’s, the dangers from o.c.’s being recognized, Roe v. Wade being chipped away, racism stronger than ever and the gov’t run amok from the war on terrorism, things have changed dramatically. The focus has changed from idealism to fear: Getting a good job and not making waves has become the order of the day and this applies to college students as well.

    In short, it is a lousy time to be a college student. Still, this need NOT be the end of things and the next Mario Savio is likely just around the corner. You can change things if you really want to and you CAN take back your life from those who seek to control it. There are causes galore and reasons to pursue them.

    • thompson_richard

      as Mario said to someone who stopped him in the street and asked ‘aren’t you Mario Savio?’ ‘why not — someone has to be him.
      who are you?
      who are you to change the world?

      change the world

  • Kevin Gorman

    People tend to protest about what most directly effects them, for better or for worse. Student anti-war protests were only ever as large as they were because of the draft, and with the possible exception of a limited draft of skilled medical personnel at some point in the future, the draft will not be implemented in this country again. No Berkeley students are forced by law to join the military in our generation, and fewer Berkeley students than in previous eras are forced to join out of economic necessity. I would argue that the lack of a strong antiwar movement at UCB has nothing to do with students not caring about their own future, and in fact everything to do with that. Berkeley’s strongest protest movements in recent years – and for the most part, traditionally as well – have dealt with issues that directly effected Berkeley students.

    I’ve seen Berkeley undergrads, grad students, and professors accept beatings, tear gas, and rubber bullets (aka lead bullets coated with rubber) in protests regarding economic inequality in the time I’ve been at Berkeley. I’ve known people who have taken over buildings in protests over tuition increases, and have seen a golf cart full of riot cops chase around someone watering plants in a protest aimed at saving the last remaining high quality agricultural land in the east bay. Although not a traditional protest per se, Berkeley students are also pretty heavily involved in things like developing crypto software that can help guarantee the safety of journalists operating in hostile environments (which includes, often, our own country.)

    • Mel Content

    • Mel Content

      I’ve seen Berkeley undergrads, grad students, and professors accept beatings, tear gas, and rubber bullets (aka lead bullets coated with rubber) in protests regarding economic inequality in the time I’ve been at Berkeley.

      Must have missed that part. All I heard about was them joining in that idiot astro-turfed debacle known as Occupy Something, where they camped out in public, broke sh!t, and fought with the cops…

      • Pixilicious

        In fact, in 1972 *I* got teargassed on my first day on campus; just walking down the street and not being part of a demonstration. Rubber bullets and beatings *were* part of the daily landscape. I also remember taking a class from Scalapino, one of the architects of the Vietnam war, with him accompanied by bodyguards and looking around the class nervously. Fear of reprisal was not confined to the student population.

        • Mel Content

          The protesters in 1972 weren’t worked up about “economic equality” and their interest in the anti-war movement took a big dump about the time the draft was discontinued…

  • abernahi

    In the sixties, tuition was relatively much lower, rents were relatively much lower, so students had more free time. There was a draft on at the time and students were deferred from going into the military. This lended itself to politicizing students. Meanwhile, leaders like Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were speaking up against the war. The enemy, the communists like Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevarra, were not that evil, in fact heroes to many young Americans. Today, the threat from enemies like ISIS and Al Queda are real threats and it isn’t so easy to make a case for ending military operations. Solutions are more complex and marching to the federal building chanting “End the War” isn’t going to accomplish much. What is needed is a strong viable and well funded progressive political party.


    There is an entire 100 year history at UC Berkeley that predates the Free Speech Movement. Our heritage stretches long before some political protests.

    • thompson_richard

      yes ROTC was mandatory from The Great War to 1961

  • Sherman Boyson

    One reason might be that back in the day most Cal students were white and middle or upper class. They didn’t have to work 20 to 35 hours a week to pay for school. They weren’t student parents with kids to take care of. Maybe you could check out the different demographics before you just slam all current Cal students. I’m not so impressed with you.

    • Steve

      Hippies had kids. This explains a lot!

    • Darryl

      Bullshit…Students have always worked.

  • Mel Content

    How about standing up for something more immediate and damaging, such as the flood of illegal aliens coming across our southern border?

  • William M Popper

    …reintroduce the Selective Service draft, men at age 18, with difficult to obtain draft deferments.