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On Strike! Shut it Down! (Exhibit 1999)

Case 7: Faculty


Just as the San Francisco State student body of the 1960s was not homogeneous, neither was the college faculty. Although the majority of the faculty were male and white, many came from different parts of the country, and had very different political, social and philosophical points of view. They were of different ages, too. Several faculty had come to the college in the late 1920s and in the 1930s, hired by Alexander Roberts. A large number were hired in the 1950s by J. Paul Leonard. The faculty's youngest members would be hired in the 1960s. Some were conservative and some were liberal. Some were firm in their support of the existing academic governance structure and some were firm in the belief of each faculty member's right to share more in that governance. Some faculty were union members and some eschewed organizations. Some supported centralized control from the California State College Chancellor's Office and some were frustrated with the loss of autonomy that came with the creation of the California State College System. Some faculty were apolitical, and some were concerned with many of the same political and social issues that concerned students, such as civil rights, the strength of the military, the Vietnam War, and the provision, by the college, to create more educational opportunity for a broader range of students. Even though the faculty taught within the strictures of individual schools and departments, their political, social and educational values would differ from department to department, from school to school, and from faculty member to faculty member. In the 1960s, the faculty had their own professional issues to confront such as workload, benefits, rights of instructors and part-time employees, curriculum, educational policy, local autonomy, collective bargaining, and academic freedom. Many faculty also sympathized with the increasingly complex lives of their students.

In Spring, 1967, liberal faculty members asked the Academic Senate to protest the college administration's practice of providing students' academic standing to the Selective Service Office. In October, 1967, the Academic Senate discussed this issue and the larger issue of college involvement in the war effort. In November, 1967, the Senate sponsored a War Convocation, a discussion of issues related to the Vietnam War. Some faculty members now began to disagree about the Academic Senate's role, and commented on individual faculty members' taking positions on various issues. They felt that such actions politicized what should otherwise be an arena for reasoned discussion. Senate members began to discuss such issues as the needs of minority students. More conservative faculty members felt that liberal faculty members were forcing their agenda on the entire faculty. Various faculty groups, such as the Faculty Renaissance, formed to counter the more liberal faculty groups and their views. In Spring, 1968, some faculty members questioned on-campus military training, by joining the students in their protests. In the fall, faculty organizations came together in protest against the Trustees' request to dismiss English professor George Murray. Some faculty members proposed going out on strike if Murray was dismissed, citing Trustee intrusion into what should be a campus process. George Murray was suspended, and on November 6, 1968, the student strike would begin. Also during this time, the faculty began to address their own issues, including a reduced teaching load and other labor issues. Faculty groups such as FORCE (Faculty Organization for Responsibility in College Education, an amalgam of other groups) sought support from the labor community for faculty actions. Many faculty members took seriously the issues facing the campus and presented individual, group, departmental, and school resolutions at various convocations and meetings. They hoped their suggestions would help solve the problems. The faculty continued to be divided in their opinions about the student strike and student actions, which daily disrupted normal campus activity. Some faculty, however, who were concerned with larger social issues, considered a work stoppage a legitimate approach to problem solving. Those faculty concerned with maintaining academic freedom and the educational process were appalled by this suggestion, because their perception was that such action would destroy the educational process as they knew it. Faculty members sympathetic to student demands tended to band together in labor-oriented organizations, such as the AFT and FORCE, while those who believed the student strike destroyed academic freedom joined more conservative organizations, such as the Faculty Renaissance. The Academic Senate, the faculty's policy making/recommending body, was a forum for discussing these issues. Ultimately, it would be ineffectual as a strong force for providing any resolution to the student strike. In December, those faculty members concerned with their own working conditions requested from the San Francisco Labor Council legitimate labor sanctions for a strike. The Labor Council gave their permission, and faculty picket lines appeared when school resumed in January, 1969. The faculty unions, and their strike activities, had a marginal impact on the student strike. Faculty union activities will be covered in case #9.

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