V V V V V
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THE STEPS of Hamilton Hall are
empty now. At this time last year, the
steps to Columbia University's main
administration building were
blockaded by as many as 500 students
demanding divestment of Columbia's
South Africa-related investments. But
since the school's Board of Trustees
decided to divest last year, "apar-
theid has been a relatively dead issue
on campus," said Maya Angellini of2
Columbia's pro-divestment steering
Divestment at Columbia illustrates
the character and obstacles of cam-
pus activism in the '80s. With no
single, clear issue like the Vietnam
War, activists are now finding it hard
to keep the attention of students. Not
only are students inundated with calls
for divestment-perhaps the chic
issue of our time-they are asked to
act against a spectrum of other
issues, ranging from financial aid to
U.S. involvement in Central America.
And then there's careerism, often
called apathy, but best known as yup-
At the University of California-
Berkley, for example, divestment was
a prominent issue on campus last
spring. Overlapping with the Colum-
bia protest, over 100 students sat-in
for a week on the steps of Berkley's
main administration building, Sproul
Hall, before they were arrested by
Now, says Teresa Heinrich, a repor-
ter for the school's campus
newspaper, the Daily Californian,
"There's really nothing going on with
University divestment. The school
decided last spring to study the issue'
and not many people go to the rallies.
I think people are kind of fed up with
"People are tired and busy,"
Heinrich said, "They're really con-
cerned about graduating."
"The problem is that students have
a lot of things on their mind, agreed
Pedro Noguera, president of the
Berkley Student Government, "It
seems like they need some sort of In the '8
spark, like a major rally at another
campus-such as the Columbia around
protest-or like when Bishop people
(Desmond) Tutu came to speak last Americ
Noguera, though, believes that ac- talking
tivists combatting apathy at Berkley was ri
have an easier task than anti-apar- Univer
theid activists at, for example, the mias
University of Michigan, which has mgetI
divested almost all of its South Africa- said.
related investments. Anti-
"Divestment is a high-profile issue bia are
around the country now, and when ties" or
students around here realize that thesD'a
studying the issue is just a stalling the DiE
tactic, we should be able to get them South
motivated again," he said. tee, to
Angellini of Columbia agreed. "It weeks
seems like ther's always a 'the' issue aparthe
happened to student, activism'?
pus," Lufrano said. "Most people
come here just to get a job."
Dave Olsen, a reporter for the Illini,
agreed, saying that students' main
concerns were "Drinking beer, getting
high, and looking for companions of
the opposite sex. Nobody's really in-
terested in politics."
Similarly, Brian Offeg, president of
Harvard University's student gover-
students for the Republican party,
especially since President Reagan
took office. A recent Newsweek on
Campus poll of college students found
that 20 percent more students now call
themselves Republicans than did in
1975. Republicans on campuses, the
poll said, outnumber Democrats 35 to
But on specific issues, the poll found
"Nobody really questions whether apar-
theid is good or bad. . . . With other
issues, it's less clear."
nment, said that students have been that 52 percent of college students feel
discussing divestment "but there's that the United States should impose
been nothing like protests. People economic sanctions on South Africa,
here are wrapped up in the world while 60 percent feel the U.S. is
within Harvard. It's partly yup- spending too much time in the
pyism. They're mostly concerned military. The paradox of "liberal"
with graduating." stances in the face of a general con-
While yuppyism has generaly had servatism may be explained by the
negative connotations, one defender "moral propriety" of an issue like
of "careerists" is Hayden. In the aprtheid, which is not a purely "lef-
same interview with the Daily, tist" issue.
Hayden said, "I never believed in the "Aparthied is a clear moral issue.
label that students are more conser- Nobody really questions whether
vative. Students have more legitimate apartheid is good or bad. There may
worries about whether they'll get a be some who question whether
job than in the '60s. My sister divestment is the best way to fight it,
graduated recently in Ypsilanti with a but we see most students feel it is.
nursing degree. Most of her friends With other issues, it's less clear.
are unsure about getting a job. That Students may oppose military spen-
was unheard of in the '60s. It made it ding, but the question becomes
easier for us to go out and demon- murkier when we ask whether ban-
strate. It doesn't surprise me that ning military research on campuses is
students compete hard academically the best solution. Many students may
in order to try to succeed after oppose the CIA's involvement with
college. That's not conservatism. Nicaragua, but when activists try to
That's common sense." fight recruitment on campus, they run
But conservative pundits consider into other questions like freedom to
the shift to be politically motivated. recruit," said Todd Gitlin, an
They point to a growing support by associate professor of sociology at
During the '60s, Columbia's Hamilton Hall was often the scene of huge demonstrations.
Berkley, and a member of Studentsfor
a Democratic Society when he atten-
ded the Universtiy of Micigan in the
ALTHOUGH military research
and CIA recruitment have often
brought debates, and, at the University
of Michigan arrests, they seem to lag
far behind divestment on other cam-
"They're realy not big topics here,"
said Teresa Heinrich, a reporter for
the Daily Californian at Berkley.
"There's this thing called the Circle fo
Concern, where about a half a dozen
people stand on the lawn outside the
school's entrance with signs, but
there's hardly ever any protests."
"Last fall, there was a CIA rally
and six people got arrested, and last
spring there was another CIA protest
that brought the police using tear gas,
but protests seem to be limited to a
vocal minority. And we hardly ever
hear anything about military resear-
ch. Conservatism is big here," said
Paul Norton, city editor for the
Universtiy of Wisconsin's newspaper.
But others maintain that even
though more students identify them-
selves with conservative stances,
apathy stems from the preoccupation
with academics, not an opposition to
liberal stances. They point to cam-
pus-wide referendums at Harvard
and the Universtiy of Illinois, where
most students supported divestment,
even if they didn't actively push for it.
"Many people are aware, but few go
to the trouble of protesting," Tatikan-
da of Wisconsin said.
Whatever label is chosen for this
silent maority of college students,
conservatives or pragmatists, radical
activism has not died. In recent
weeks, students at Brown have held a
hunger strike and students at Smith
College took over the administrative
building , both in efforts to persuade
the schools to divest.
But Ken Brown, editor-in-chief of
newspaper, the Pipe Dream, seemed
to sum up the frustrations of campus
activists, when he said "There's the
group of hardcore activists. And then
there are the masses.''
If the nation's campuses have
become "hotbeds of social rest," as
Abbie Hoffman said last year, Ann
Arbor seems to be more active than
"Michigan's a lot more
sophisticated, a lot more
cosmopolitan," said Clarence Shelly,
assistant vice chancellor for student
affairs at the University of Illinois.
"Ann Arbor seems to be able to im-
plement decisions on social issues
much more quickly than we do here,"
he said. For example, a policy
statement, much like the University's
statement against discrimination
toward homosexuals was only
recently brought up there, and not
"The $5 pot law could never happen
here," he said.
In general, the issues identified with
80s, student protest and careerism are becoming strange bedfelloW+s.
here. When the CIA comes,
start talking about Central
a. When New York raised the
g age to 21, everbody was
about whether the university
ght to ban drinking on the
t spring, apartheid was the
sue. We have to find new ways
people thinking about it," she
apartheid activists at Colum-
planning to construct "shan-
n campus ,like the onle built on
ag last week by the the Free
Africa Coordinating Commit-
keep the issue visible.
're also hoping that the "two
of national protest against
eid," which began earlier this
will focus attention on South
e other universities that have
d, activists have taken a more
ishment" route. This is true
Unviersity of Wisconsin, which
ed in 1977. Stdents there, ac-
g to Stacy Swadish, editor-in-
chief of the school's student-run Daily
Cardinal, camped out in the state
capitol for two weeks last spring,
urging the state to divest its pension
fund from companies that do business
with South Africa. Students now hold
demonstrations about once a week at
the capitol, she said, whild a divest-
ment bill remains stalled in commit-
The legislation approach, said Tom
Hayden, a co-foundr of the Students
for a Democratic Society (SDS) in
the '60's, and now a California state
assemblyman, is what differentiates
activism now from the activism of the
'60 s. In an interview with the Daily
last summer, Hayden said, "The first
national demonstration I ever went to
was against Chase Manhattan Bank's
interests in South Africa. We were
alone. Now you have Congressmen
getting arrested for the same issue.
All this means that the the movement
will be different. It now has more
alternatives to follow than in the
streets - city government, state
government, the Board of Regents.
We didn't have that."
Indeed, student leaders have taken
campus issues to government. At the
Universtiy of Michigan, for example,
members of the Michigan Student
Assembly have taken their grievan-
ces about student input in Universtiy
decision-making to state
of the student assembly. The two were
debating Cuomo's budget cuts for the
But while activism may have
modernized, it seems to have lagged
behind in a time of increasing
materialism. And while divestment
has been highly publicized, protests
.. .we hardly ever hear anything about
military research. Conservatism is big
City editor, Daily Cardinal
Daily staff writers Rob Earle, Beth
Fertig, Philip Levy. Eric Mattson,
Kery Murakami, and Nora Thorpe
filed reports for this story.
Murakami wrote and coordinated
at the 1
'legislatures. They're hoping for
legislation that would place a student
on the Board of Regents.
At the State University of New
York at Binghamton, 150 students at-
tended a rally outside a debate bet-
ween New York Governor Mario
Cuomo and Fred Ascarrte, president
have hardly been universal on
America's campuses. "Divestment
by far has been the biggest campus
issue here," said Mike Lufrano, cam-
pus editor of the University of Illinois'
Daily Illini, "But nothing much has
"We've got a real vocational cam-
A nti-apartheid shanties, like this one on the Diag, were torn down at Dartmouth, sparking controversy.
6 Weekend-March 28, 1986