UC Berkeley NewsView of Campanile and Golden Gate Bridge
Today's news & events
News by email
For the news media
Calendar of events
Top stories
Untitled Document
Media Advisory

40th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement at UCB

27 September 2004

ATTENTION: Journalists covering the 40th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

Contact: Media Relations
(510) 642-3734

Forty years ago, in the fall of 1964, the Free Speech Movement was launched at the University of California, Berkeley, by students protesting a campus order eliminating their right to set up tables for political advocacy. The series of historic events began on Sept. 30 of that year, when tables were set up on Sproul Plaza in violation of the order.

The Free Speech Movement is seen as a pivotal moment in the evolution of student rights and activism on university campuses and gave the American university center stage to debate political ideas.

The following scholars — some of them faculty members during the Free Speech Movement — are available for interviews about the anniversary.

Robert Cohen
Professor and chair, New York University's Department of Teaching and Learning, Steinhardt School of Education
Cell phone: (646) 515-4197
E-mail: rpc6@nyu.edu
Cohen is co-editor of the 2002 book "The Free Speech Movement, Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s," which he edited with Reginald Zelnik, a UC Berkeley history professor who died last spring and was a junior faculty member at UC Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement. Cohen, who was still in elementary school at the time, approached his research from an academic point of view, contributing an essay to the book that explored new documents and shed additional light into the thoughts of movement participants. Cohen, a scholar of American student protest movements, received his doctorate in history from UC Berkeley in 1987. He is now writing a political biography of Mario Savio. Cohen will be in the Bay Area for some of the anniversary commemorations and is available for press interviews.

Lisa Rubens
Academic specialist in university history and the history of social movements, and manager of the Free Speech Movement Oral History Project
Phone: (510) 643-2057
E-mail: lrubens@library.berkeley.edu
Rubens oversees interviews of people associated with the Free Speech Movement and personally has conducted about 45 interviews. Most of the interviews will be available online in October at http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/FSM/. Rubens is interested in extending the project to document the movements that came before, and then followed, the Free Speech Movement.


Richard M. Abrams
UC Berkeley professor of history and associate dean of International & Area Studies
Phone: (510) 642-2611
On Wednesdays and Fridays, he can more readily be reached at his home office (510) 527-0462, and he prefers that reporters always call him there.
He is most available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-9:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. - noon and on Thursdays from 1:30-2 p.m.
E-mail: abramsr@socrates.berkeley.edu
Abrams was an assistant professor of history at the time of the Free Speech Movement and was active in faculty public relations as well as in the Academic Senate. He was a moderate supporter of the Free Speech Movement, but believes that current celebrations of its achievements and character clash with the historical facts.

David A. Hollinger
Preston Hotchkis Professor of History and chair-designate of the Department of History at UC Berkeley
Phone: (510) 642-1808
E-mail: davidhol@socrates.berkeley.edu
Hollinger prefers e-mail for initial contact with reporters and will then set up telephone appointments if needed.
Hollinger was a graduate student at UC Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement and said he "carried a sign" in pro-movement demonstrations and went to a lot of meetings. "I held no office, made no speeches, and was not arrested," he said. Hollinger can share his thoughts on what he calls the "distinctly liberal character of the political values of many of the rank-and-file student participants, and the seriousness with which they took the issues as stated."
Hollinger wrote an essay on the Free Speech Movement in the 2002 book "The Free Speech Movement" edited by Robert Cohen and Reginald Zelnik. That essay provides an account of Hollinger's experience and offers a set of cautions about how the movement should be remembered and guarded against capture by "ideological impulses of our own day." He encourages reporters to read his essay and an article by Cohen that analyzes statements to the court written by students who were arrested. That information, he said, was not available at the time of previous anniversary commemorations and provides vital insights into the Free Speech Movement.

Karl S. Pister
UC Santa Cruz chancellor emeritus, former director of UC Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education, and dean emeritus and Roy W. Carlson Professor Emeritus in UC Berkeley's College of Engineering
Phone: (925) 283-6374
E-mail: pister@newton.berkeley.edu
Pister says the Free Speech Movement "dramatically changed the culture of this campus, to this day." It resulted in giving students an unprecedented voice in campus affairs, bringing politics onto the campus, and shining an intense media spotlight on the campus.
The movement "had a huge impact on what was going on in the classroom," said Pister, whose engineering classes at the time included discussion about what was happening. He recalls a rock being thrown through his office window and tear gas drifting into Dwinelle Hall, canceling classes there. Pister served on a campus committee of students and faculty that established rules for the time, place and manner for student assembly.

Peter Dale Scott
Emeritus professor of English, poet and former Canadian diplomat
E-mail: pdscottweb@hotmail.com
Scott was active in the Free Speech Movement and taught in UC Berkeley's Peace and Conflict Studies Program. He is the author of several books, including "The Politics of Escalation" (co-authored with the late UC Berkeley professor Reginald Zelnik) and "The War Conspiracy: The Secret Road to the Second Indochina War."

John R. Searle
Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language
Phone: (510) 642-3173
E-mail: searle@cogsci.berkeley.edu
Searle was the first tenured faculty member who took the side of the students in the Free Speech Movement. He actively supported the movement's stance that the campus should provide an open forum for every opinion and that such a forum should not be allowed to interfere with the university's educational mission. He says that by the late 1960s, student political movements turned a deaf ear on views contrary to their own.
His students included Mario Savio, whom he called "a first-rate intellectual." He has taught at UC Berkeley for 45 years and is the author of more than 140 articles and 16 books, including "Campus Wars," "Speech Acts," "The Construction of Social Reality" and "Expression and Meaning." His work has been translated into 21 languages.

Neil J. Smelser
Emeritus professor of sociology in UC Berkeley's Department of Sociology
Phone: (510) 655-0577
Smelser is generally available for press calls but will be out of town on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 29 and 30; from Sunday through Thursday, Oct. 3-5, and on Thursday, Oct. 7.
E-mail: nsmelser@uclink.berkeley.edu
Smelser was a UC Berkeley professor of sociology during the Free Speech Movement and said he was "mildly active" as faculty member in the fall of 1964, then in the winter, spring and summer was special assistant to the chancellor in the area of student political activity under acting Chancellor Martin Meyerson. He can discuss what caused the Free Speech Movement, the role of the campus and University of California systemwide administration during the movement, negotiating with activist students at the time, and the aftermath and reverberations of the movement.