The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, Fall 1964

Memorial to the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley

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Chronology of Events – Free Speech Movement 1964

From Revolution at Berkeley: The Crisis in American Education , edited by Michael V. Miller and Susan Gilmore; Dial Press, N.Y., 1965.
September 14: Dean of Students, Katherine Towle, sends a letter to all student organizations to inform them that the sidewalk area in front of the campus at Bancroft and Telegraph will no longer be available for setting up tables, raising funds, recruiting members, and giving speeches for off-campus political and social action. Previously, this property was thought to belong to the city of Berkeley. It is now revealed, however, that the property belonged to the University, and henceforth all University rules restricting political activities would apply to this area.
September 17: The leadership of student organizations, including political groups ranging from the far left to the far right, form a united front to request that the administration restore the area to its traditional role as a center of student political activity and expression.
September 21: The first day of classes. Dean Towle, after meeting with representatives from the united front, modifies the previous ruling. Students would be allowed to set up tables and distribute informational material, but they would still not be allowed to engage in the essential stuff of politics. After the students’ request to resume traditional political activities is turned down, the united front holds its first rally on the steps of Sproul Hall (Berkeley Administration Building).
September 28: Chancellor Edward Strong modifies the ban to permit campaigning for candidates and propositions on ballots. Dean Arleigh Williams warns that students persisting in what has now been defined as “illegal politics” may be expelled. Meanwhile, several political organizations continue setting up tables and engaging in pre-ban activities.
September 30: Five students are cited for violating the newly-formed regulations against manning tables and are asked to appear at 3:00 PM before the deans. Over 400 students sign statements that they are equally responsible for manning the tables and appear in Sproul Hall requesting that they too be given disciplinary hearings. All are refused access to the deans except the original five students and the three leaders of this protest group who are now scheduled to meet with Dean Williams at 4:00 PM. The general student protest continues and continues to be ignored; finally even the meeting with the eight students’ leaders is cancelled. As evening approaches, the hundreds of students remain outside the dean’s offices; at 11:45 Chancellor Strong announces the indefinite suspension of the eight students; the assembly of students remains at Sproul Hall until the following morning.
October 1: Students set up tables on steps of Sproul Hall and plan noon rally to protest rules and to demand equal treatment for all students subject to these rules. Police arrest Jack Weinberg for operating a CORE table on Sproul steps, and crowds of students spontaneously surround the police car and prohibit it from carrying away Mr. Weinberg. Individual speakers — among them, Mario Savio who soon distinguishes himself as the major spokesman of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) — then begin addressing the more than 2,000 assembled students. The protest is extended when students enter Sproul Hall for a second major sit-in. Meanwhile a group of faculty members attempts to mediate; however, the administration announces that the rules are not negotiable. The student protesters remain.
October 2: The administration calls in several hundred policemen who assemble around the demonstrators. University officials, including President Kerr, members of the faculty, and student leaders meet and discuss issues. At the last minute, they reach a six-point agreement which includes the University’s dropping charges against Mr. Weinberg. The police leave and demonstrators disperse.
October 3-4: The Free Speech Movement is formed out of the united front and subsequently an executive committee representing the various political and religious organizations is established, as well as a twelve-man steering committee to plan interim policy and to choose students to serve on the student-faculty-administration study committee.
October 5: Chancellor Strong, pursuant to the agreement of October 2, appoints ten members to the Campus Committee on Political Activity (CCPA) to investigate and suggest solutions to the campus political problems. The FSM is first given two delegates to the committee; it is later granted two more.
October 13: The Academic Senate passes a motion for “maximum freedom for student political activity” and agrees to participate actively in the faculty-student-administration committee. The CCPA holds its first meeting at which fifty of the approximate 300 students in attendance testify against the illegal formation of that committee. Meanwhile graduate students meet to select seven members to the FSM Executive Committee.
October 15: President Kerr agrees to reconstitute the CCPA, adding six more members to the original twelve. He also requests the Academic Senate to establish an ad hoc committee to advise on the September 30 suspension of eight students.
November 7: The CCPA reaches an impasse on the question of University discipline of students and organizations engaging in activities that “directly result” in “unlawful acts” off campus.
November 9: FSM demonstrates its position by again setting up tables, thus ending the self-imposed six-week moratorium on such activities. As a result, Chancellor Strong dissolves the CCPA.
November 10: Seventy students receive letters from the Dean’s office citing them for violating the rules in manning tables. Hundreds of graduate students sign statements declaring that they are equally responsible for manning tables.
November 12: Faculty ad hoc committee (The Heyman Committee) recommends that six of the eight students — all of whom had been out of school since September 30 — be immediately re-instated and charges expunged from their records and that Mario Savio and Art Goldberg be officially suspended for six weeks, beginning September 30. Chancellor Strong refuses to act on the findings of the committee before the meeting of the Academic Senate on December 8.
November 20: Regents meet and approve suggestions made by President Kerr and Chancellor Strong concerning the suspension to date of the eight students and the one semester probation of Savio and Goldberg. They also agree to modify their policy on political activity; however they maintain that organizations and individuals be disciplined for what they called “illegal advocacy.” Meanwhile a rally of over 3,000 students that had assembled at Sproul Hall marches first to the west gate of the campus to hear Joan Baez and then across the street to University Hall where the regents were meeting, to await the results.
November 23: FSM holds mass rally after which three hundred students sit in for three hours in Sproul Hall over issue of University discipline for off-campus activities.
November 24: Chancellor Strong issues a statement of new rules following the decisions of the regents in their November 20 meeting. FSM resumes setting up tables; and a welcome Thanksgiving recess intervenes.
November 28: Mario Savio and Art Goldberg receive letters from Chancellor Strong initiating new disciplinary action against them for acts allegedly committed October I and 2.
November 30: Chancellor Strong rejects FSM demands that charges against Savio and Goldberg be dropped.
December 1: FSM issues ultimatum. Teaching assistants and Graduate Coordinating Council agree to strike on December 4 “if conditions warrant.”
December 2: University ignores ultimatum. FSM holds rally that attracts thousands, after which approximately one thousand persons move into Sproul Hall. More than eight hundred students remain for the night.
December 3: At 3:05 AM, Chancellor Strong urges students to leave Sproul Hall; at 3:45 AM, Governor Edmund G. Brown announces that he has dispatched police (about 635 of them) to arrest the students. The arrest of about 814 students continues for twelve hours, during which time graduate students picket University buildings in protest of police action. Simultaneously, faculty members meet to consider the crisis, to protest the regents’ policy of November 20 and the governor’s summoning police, and to establish an Academic Senate Committee to which students could appeal regarding the penalties imposed by the administration for political action. Faculty members raise bail for the arrested students. During the day a strike is called and many classes are cancelled.
December 4: Students released on bail, and the strike continues.
December 5-6: Council of Department Chairmen meet during the weekend to work out agreements to be presented at a studentfaculty-administration convocation at the Greek theater Monday, December 7. On Sunday, Professor Robert A. Scalapino, chairman of the Council meets with President Kerr to work out agreement. Two hundred faculty members meet to consider the resolutions made at impromptu faculty meeting of December 3.
December 7: Departmental chairmen call off all classes between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. At 11:00 AM Professor Scalapino and President Kerr address faculty members and students gathered at the Greek theater for this “extraordinary convocation.” The meeting is adjourned, and Mario Savio attempts to make an announcement, but is removed by police. He is then released and allowed to speak. At noon rally, FSM condemns the inadequacy of the proposals announced by President Kerr; graduate students call off picketing and the strike is suspended until after the meeting of the Academic Senate.
December 8: Academic Senate meets and votes 824 to 115 for the five-point proposal made by the Committee on Academic Freedom against control of student speech and political advocacy. FSM states full support for the faculty position.
December 15: The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC, the students’ government) approves motion that the regents accept the five-point Academic Senate proposal to end the “free speech” controversy.
December 18: The University board of regents do not accept the proposal made by the Academic Senate. They appoint a committee of regents to examine the issues and consult with students faculty and “other interested persons” in order to make recommendations to the board.
January 2: At an emergency meeting, the board of regents names Martin Meyerson, Dean of the College of Environmental Design, as acting chancellor, replacing Edward W. Strong.
January 3: The new acting chancellor delivers his first address to the campus community in which he set down provisional rules for political activity on the Berkeley campus: the Sproul Hall steps are designated as an open discussion area during certain hours of the day; tables are permitted.

One response to “The Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, Fall 1964

  1. Grreat post thanks

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