FREE SPEECH 1959
In March 1959. Slate decided to hold a rally
on campus at the Oak Tree in support of Proposition C, the Berkeley Fair Housing
Ordinance. Written request for permission was made to the Dean of Students Office. Dean H.
E. Stone's reply, on March 9, cited Section 20220 of the Education Code, which prohibits
use of the name "University of California' or any abbreviation of it, or any name of
which these words are a part.
" . . . to display, advertise, or announce this name publicly at or in connection
with any meeting, assembly, or demonstration, or any propaganda, advertising or
promotional activity of any kind which has for . . . any part of its purpose the support,
endorsement, advancement, opposition or defeat of any strike, lockout, or boycott of any
political, religious, sociological (sic), or economic movement, activity or program."
Stone's letter went on to say:
"Under the statute and the general limitations upon the University engaging in
political activity, recognized University organizations may not, as such organizations,
take positions on political and related controversies, such as Proposition C. Nor may they
use University facilities for meetings designed to solicit support for or opposition to
such a proposition. Therefore I cannot approve your request made on behalf of Slate which
is one of our University recognized student organizations. Students in their individual
capacities or as members of groups not recognized by the University are, of course, free
to engage in political activity off the campus."1
(This statement of policy might be compared with the events cited in, e.g., the
appendices on the Kerr Directives and on Patterns Of ASUC Activity, as well as Appendix B,
to indicate why the contradictions and inconsistencies of the Administration's
applications of its policies perturbed the students and led to the events which followed.)
On March 10, the Daily Californian
"Dave Armor rep-at-large and former vice-chairman of Slate, told the Daily Cal
yesterday that it seemed to him that 'this ruling is just another way of preventing
students from speaking freely on issues that concern them . . . Proposition C is not an
issue remote from the students on this campus; on the contrary, it affects all minority
group students and faculty who attend the University. It seems ironic that there was no
hesitation when it came to actively supporting Proposition 3 [a bond issue for the
University] in the state election.' "
Slate next scheduled a noon meeting to protest the ban. Cindy Lembcke was again called
in to see Dean Stone and told that this meeting too could not be held. She reported this
to the Daily Californian and on March 11, 1959 they wrote:
" . . . Stone prohibited the meeting on the grounds that 'it is not of general
student concern,' according to Slate chairman Cindy Lembcke . . . Among other steps taken
the Slate committee drafted a telegram which was sent to President Clark Kerr and to the
Chairman of the Board of Regents, Donald McLaughlin. The text of the telegram is as
"'This morning Dean Hurford E. Stone
arbitrarily refused to grant Slate a permit for an outside meeting to discuss Dr.
Sheriff's recent ruling concerning activities of recognized student organizations.
"'This refusal relates not to the
discussion of non-campus issues, but to the right of student organizations to discuss
University policy in reference to student organizations.
"'This would appear to be in
contradiction to Dr. Sheriff's recent ruling, concerning the nature of those topics which
may be discussed by a recognized student organization. Knowing your concern with such
civil-libertarian issues, your opinion and action is respectfully requested.' "
The American Civil Liberties Union also
became interested in the dispute. On March 12, 1959, the Daily Cal reported:
"The American Civil Liberties Union is stepping into the current dispute over the
banning of a Slate rally in support of Proposition C.
"Ernest Besig, Executive Director of the
ACLU, Northern California branch, told the Daily Californian yesterday that his
organization has sent a letter to Chancellor Seaborg requesting clarification of the
"Specifically, the ACLU is asking
whether Dean Stone, in banning the rally under a section of the State Code, based his
decision on any legal opinion. If so, the ACLU has asked for a copy of the opinion.
"Secondly, the ACLU has asked the
Chancellor if Dean Stone's action had the Chancellors' approval and backing.
"Besig expressed the opinion that the
Educational Code provision cited by Stone in his ruling had no bearing in this case and
that Stone's interpretation of the provision was a 'tortured' one.
"Besig goes on 'There was never any
intention, when the statute was passed, that it should apply in a case like this,' Besig
said. The legislators had in mind the use of the name 'University' by the YMCA,' he said.
After passage of the statute, the local YMCA had to change its name . . . ."
According to Ken Cloke, Slate decided to hold
the rally with or without Dean Stone's approval. The following events were described by
Ken Cloke. The rally was held at the Oak tree and at Sather Gate. Roughly 300 people spoke
there although they knew that the rally had been prohibited by the Administration. About a
week later, some of the leaders of Slate and same of the persons who spoke at the rally
were called before the Student-Faculty committee on Student Conduct. The Committee
hearings are private. Nevertheless, approximately 500 students went to the hearings and
said that they too had spoken at the rally and that whatever action was taken against some
must be taken against all. The committee discontinued its hearings and no further measures
were taken against the students who spoke.
-- David Root, Graduate, Mathematics
(with Kenneth Cloke,
1. Stone's letter from the
files of Aryay Lenske