THREE CHANGES IN THE KERR DIRECTIVES
O. THE FIRST VERSION OF THE DIRECTIVES
The complex of rules governing the relations student groups enjoy
with the University was "recodified" in a version we will call the "Kerr
Directives." The Directives were issued on October 22, 1959, and the changes we shall
discuss were made after this date. Some earlier events are, however, relevant to this
On July 9, 1959 Kerr sent drafts of the new regulations to Professor
Frank C. Newman, stating: "I would appreciate having the comments and suggestions of
the Committee on Academic Freedom..." 2 After a meeting
of the Committee, of which he was chairman, Newman sent Kerr specific recommendations on
September 1. In the words of the Academic Senate Record,
"The most significant recommendation (with respect to the section 'Use of
University Facilities') was to delete the entire Section ... with respect to rules and
procedures regarding the specific approval of off-campus speakers. It was our considered
view that the University should not require such specific approval...
"The most significant recommendation with respect to the draft on Student
Organizations concerned the conditions for recognition. (We) proposed that organizations
having as one of their purposes 'the taking of positions with reference to off-campus...
issues' should not be debarred from the substantial privileges conferred by recognition.
"On September 30 ... President Kerr advised that (our suggestions) 'were most
helpful' and that he had incorporated all of them except that (a)...he had 'decided to
retain the system of speaker approval for all off-campus speakers sponsored by student
organizations'; (b)... he had `decided to retain the original form of the draft which
prevents extending recognition to organizations which have among their purposes 'the
taking of positions (on) off-campus ... issues.'
"Unfortunately," remarks the Record. "these two exceptions were
the essence of our recommendations."
Similarly, on October 12 the Committee suggested to Kerr that the
student government and its agencies should not be prevented from taking stands on
'off-campus' issues, but should be allowed to take such stands provided they made it
"clear that they do not represent the University or the student body as a
whole." Four days later Kerr informed them that he would not accept this
I. THE FIRST CHANGE: A LIBERALIZATION
The Directives were printed in the Daily Californian on
October 23, 1959, with a front-page editorial beginning, "President Kerr slapped
student government in the face yesterday." The paper's criticism centered on the
three points mentioned above. On October 27 the ASUC ExCom passed a resolution of protest 3 . At a rally the next day Slate urged student defiance of the
new regulations. 4
On November 4 an open meeting of students and faculty discussed the
effects of the Directives and possible action against them. <5 The next day ExCom
asked for a student poll. 6 On November 13. Slate announced
that it was considering a court action to test the legality of the Directives, and sent a
travelling committee to organize protest support on other campuses. 7
President Kerr began to respond to the pressure on November 3, when
he devoted four pages of the Daily Californian to a 'clarification' of the
reasons for the new regulations. The paper responded two days later with an editorial
declaring that the clarifications needed to be clarified.
At a meeting of the Academic Senate on November 20, Kerr presented a
revised set of regulations. The clause denying recognition to organizations having as one
of their purposes the taking of positions on 'off-campus' issues was changed to read,
"The organizations must not be identified with any partisan political or religious
group, or have as one of its principal purposes the taking of partisan positions
identified with such a group." The requirement of prior approval for off-campus
speakers was changed to one of prior notification. 8
Two questions are in order.
(1) On October 23, Kerr stated that the regulations were devised
after "widespread consultation...with administrative officers, faculty, and
students." 9 Was this statement's implication justified,
when the Academic Senate had complained that Kerr had disregarded "the essence of our
recommendations"? And why did the student government say, in its resolution of
October 27. "We further protest that (the Directives) were drawn up and established
without the consultation and involvement of students"?
(2) Why were the regulations changed? The official answer
was, "Kerr...said the change was made because the original wording was subject to
interpretations which were never intended." 10 This
explanation is insufficient, for the change was not only in the wording, but in the content.
The newspaper had a different theory: "The recent Kerr modification was attributed to
the Academic Freedom Report." 11 But the part of the
Committee's report suggesting the changes that were made was in Kerr's hands a month
before the regulations were made public, and he specifically rejected its recommendations.
II. THE SECOND CHANGE: A RESTRICTION
After the first change, the Committee on Academic Freedom commented:
"(We) are of the opinion that the whole distinction between 'recognized' and
'off-campus' organizations might well be eliminated ... we now cannot envisage any harm to
the University that would result from making its facilities available to... student
organizations with avowedly partisan political or religious goals." 12
But the Administration had a different opinion. On July 24, 1961,
rather than eliminating this distinction. President Kerr formalized it. The 1959
Regulation on Student Organizations had provided a single category, that of 'recognized
student organization.' The 1961 Privileges of Student Organizations which replaced it
crested the new category of 'student organization authorized to use University facilities
for special events', or `off-campus' organization. 13
Let us note that, though nominally this change might be conceived of
as a liberalization, in practice it proved to be a restriction. For example, State, SCAL,
and SAAT were not granted on-campus status under the new rulings. 14
The difficulties which motivated the change were forecast by the
Committee on Academic Freedom in 1959:
"We feel that it will be in practice extremely difficult to draw any clear-cut
line between 'recognized' organizations, which may now concern themselves to some extent
with political and religious issues, and 'off-campus' ones, which allegedly have partisan
The Administration's reluctance to extend recognition to 'partisan'
groups comes from the fact that such recognition affords outside pressure-groups the
chance to criticize and, possibly, to damage the University (c.f. appendix on HUAC and
Slate) After the HUAC demonstrations of 1960, criticism of the University and of students
was particularly strong. The California Senate Fact-Finding Committee on UnAmerican
Activities devoted 80 pages of its 1961 report to student activities at Berkeley: much of
this space concerned Slate. The Committee's report also included a rather unsavory
criticism of President Kerr for laying the campus open to such groups. 15
Such pressures led an administrative official to tell a Slate member
that the administration ". . .would prefer that I not proceed with sale of (Sounds of
Protest) because any further connection of the University with the demonstrations could
seriously affect its possibilities of getting funds, including government money, and. .
.would also affect the University's image with prospective students. . ." 16
The suspension of Slate's 'on-campus' status in June 1961 17 is also relevant to the question of why Kerr formalized the
distinction between 'on-campus' and 'off-campus' organizations. For the two previous years
Slate and the Administration had conflicted frequently over what privileges and rights
Slate had. Following the suspension, a small but vigorous protest in Slate's behalf was
made by a group of faculty members. 18
In short, there was a clear need for the Administration to take a
stand. It might have accepted the Academic Freedom Committee's previous recommendation to
eliminate the distinctions entirely. It might have disassociated the University totally
from any student involvement in political affairs. Instead, it took a middle course.
We are not, in this report, concerned with the justice of this
choice. We only wish to point out that the available record indicates that it was
motivated by fear of outside pressures on the University.
One further point about this change in regulations must be made, in
the interests of providing some information about how administrative policy is determined.
On July 17, a group of 19 faculty members made a formal request to Kerr, asking that the
revised regulations not be issued until they had been submitted to the Academic Senate for
discussion. 19 The request was refused. Kerr instead
consulted the Academic Council, which is regarded by many on the faculty as not
representing the views of the Senate. 20 The new regulation
was issued on July 22, unchanged from the draft form in which it had been circulated.
III. THE THIRD CHANGE: A LIBERALIZATION
In Fall, 1961 there was immediate student reaction to the second
change. By September 14. Slate was circulating pamphlets attacking the Directives. The
SCLU entered into discussion with the Administration. After prolonged debate, Slate named
a delegate to the SCLU Consulting Committee. 21 The committee
met with Administrative officials, and discussed a possible lawsuit against the
On October 26 a headline in the paper reported: "Reps Relate
Apathy To Kerr Directives". On November 13, Slate ASUC Representatives Ken Cloke and
Roger Hollander published a lengthy criticism of the Directives in the paper. Two days
later, open conflict flared flared when Kerr addressed an open letter to them on the front
page of the Daily Cal. The next day they responded with another open letter, again on the
Kerr's letter read, in part. "The claim that' students' rights
which previously existed' have been eliminated. . .is a good example of the 'Big Myth'
technique at work. . ." It went on to offer Slate, and the whole student body, a
"free choice" between the current directives and the corresponding rules under
President Sproul. An appendix purported to give a point-by-point comparison of these two
sets of rules, but unfortunately neglected to mention the liberalizations that Sproul had
authorized in 1957. 23
(Elsewhere in this report we discuss the successful attempt of
Administrative officials to dictate to the ASUC ExCom a resolution affirming the Kerr
Directives and, thus, refusing Kerr's offer. 24 )
Kerr's open letter, which was unprecedented (and widely viewed as an
attack on Slate), and the curious pressure put by the Administration on ExCom to insure
its support, lead us to conclude that the Administration felt itself put under
This brief summary of the events of Fall 1961 may help to resolve the
following puzzle. Kerr's open letter of November 15 devotes considerable energy to
explaining that the then-current regulations were (a) carefully formulated, and (b) quite
liberal. It makes no mention of any proposed further liberalizations. But on November 27
the Daily Californian reported:
"Only 72 hours notice need by be given for off-campus speakers as of December 1,
according to a revision of the notification rule issued . . by Katherine A. Towle, acting
dean of students. The present ruling says that any student organization which plans to
hold a meeting at which an off-campus speaker will appear must file notification seven
seven days prior to the event."
-- Michael Rossman
1. For a summary of the differences between the first and the present
versions of the Kerr Directives, see Appendix D.
2. All material about the Academic Senate, including quoted passages,
is taken from the Academic Senate Record, Vol. 6, No. 2.
3. Daily Californian, Oct.28
5. D. C. Oct. 30, Nov. 4
6.D. C. Nov. 5
7.D. C. Nov. 13
8, 9. Academic Senate Record
10, 11. D. C. Nov. 24
12. Academic Senate Record
13. See present regulations.
14. D. C. Aug. 11, 1961
15. See, e.g., pages 83 and 95 of the report.
16. The quotation is from the appendix on the HUAC Demonstrations, q.v.
See also the appendices on Slate and on the Faculty.
17,18,19. See appendices on Slate
and on the Faculty.
20. Communications from several faculty members. I have softened their
original phrasing, which was much more provocative.
21. In view of the events of Fall 1964, a note on Slate's internal
debate is relevant. A minority of members felt that:
". . . the Administration has proved itself composed of unreasonable bureaucrats,
so that to negotiate on reasonable grounds would be hopeless . . . Slate must act
immediately and sensationally while the issue is still a topic of interest. Pressure the
Administration by embarrassing them with constant demonstrations and petitions . . ."
A majority, however, took the view that:
". . . all legal methods, all negotiations must be exhausted before the student
body could be aroused to the point that any direct action could be taken. With an educated
student body, Slate has a better chance of pressuring the University, or, if that means
fails, taking effective action."
These pessimistic views, reported in the Slate Newsletter of September 24
1961, testify to the extent to which many students were convinced that prospects for
negotiations were poor. The history of negotiations attempted previously might perhaps
account for this feeling.
22. D. C. Oct. 13, 1961
23. See the appendix on the liberalizations in Rule 17.
24. See Appendix C.