Administrative Pressures and Student
As published by
the only means at our disposal -- our typewriters and secretarial IBM-Selectrics, and the
ditto machines still used for routine departmental bulletins, made available by friendly
staff -- these texts amounted to 136 pages of single-spaced typescript with narrow
margins, in a motley of typefaces, mostly quite small and often changing within a
document, all printed in the pale violet ink of ditto transfer, scarcely less legible now
than they were then.
faded rapidly and were good for 80 copies under ideal conditions. We pushed them to
produce the Report in an edition of about 110 copies -- saving the best ten impressions of
each page for FSM's formal presentation to the CCPA, and distributing the faint ones
democratically among the remaining copies. Each set of texts was bound together with the
eight-page, summary essay -- printed by offset in 5,000 copies and widely distributed --
using brass clips and cardboard portfolios. We rushed from our final collating party to
deliver the first ten, prime copies to FSM's representatives just in time to present at
the fifth meeting of the Committee on Campus Political Activity, three days before FSM's
response to the committee's deadlock prompted the Chancellor to dissolve it. Some 60
copies were distributed to FSM's constituent organizations through their representatives
on ExCom. Copies were placed at the main campus library and at every specialized branch
that would make them accessible, and were dispatched to President Kerr and the Regents. A
few remained for the project's key staff.
Given the rush of
circumstances, as well as the density and faintness of its text, it's doubtful that anyone
on the CCPA read much more of the Report than its summary essay, if even that much. If any
other administrator or faculty member on campus read its detailed studies, no word of this
ever reached us. Quite conceivably, the entire readership of the original edition --
beyond the cooperative circle of its producers, and the few researchers commissioned to
prepare comprehensive reports on the conflict -- amounted then to a few dozen students
motivated to extend their vague knowledge of local history and political dynamics; and has
amounted since to as few, inquiring more selectively into the few copies preserved in
institutional libraries. By this measure, our project was a large investment with a small
payoff, scarcely utilized.
Even so, the
Report made a satisfying thump! on the conference table, weighing in at nearly two pounds;
and thousands of people heard it, within and beyond our ranks. For the substance of its
gesture was more important in the moment than the substance of its text. Hardly a month
had passed since the police-car dialogue had made students widely aware that a history of
grievance undergirded the FSM's struggle for free political expression. Some few long-term
administrators understood this sympathetically; more understood the radicals' perennial
complaints of oppression as ungrateful noise confusing the progress of true
liberalization, if not as more pernicious. The faculty were still so insulated even from
concern for student activism, let along from knowledge of the actual textures of our
institutional experience, that few had more than an inkling that a coherent historical
case might be made for our stance.
In the vitalized
atmosphere, news of our project spread widely during the feverish weeks of work.
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