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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 23, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta San Francisco State head reflects: May 23, 1973 THE lETHBRIDGt HERALD 33 College riots left 'no benefits' By MURRAY OLDERMAN SAN FRANCISCO With the official retirement next month of Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa, Ph.D D. Litt, LL.D., a phase of American education passes. Not even five years ago, S. I. Hayakawa was deep in the bowers of academe, a re- nowned semanticist of limit- ted fame. Then, with a plaid tarn o'shanter on his round head, he mounted a sound truck which symbolized the core of student rebellion at San Francisco State Univer- sity and stridently ripped out the wires. He himself became t h e symbol of bac'dash to t'-e disruption of the academic system by student and facul- ty dissenters, and eventually the restoration of authorily. It wasn't easy. Rousted Twice the police of Mill Valley, the sylvan communi- ty where he lives, rousted hiir out of his home because of rsonal threats. Doc Ha- yakawa had to pay the motel bills himself for those nights. The California Highway Patrol and the San Francis- co Police Department escort- ed him to the campus on the southwest edge of the city, within view of the ocean, where he was elevated to the post of university president in November, 1968. But Hayakawa's firmness said repressiveness The student- faculty strike Which rent the campus in the winter of 1967- 68, when many of America's colleges were enflamed, sput- tered to oblivion. So now, fewer than five years later, he sits m his of- fice from which he controls 22.000 students, backdropped by a wall which reflects his passionate interest in Orien- tal and African art. He is a small, kinetic man who can't sit still for long, but he takes time for un- abashed reflection. "The student uproar here." he reviews, "was extremely racist and extremely arro- gant. Black students would protest the teaching of a course in African history by a white professor who was the only one competent to do so here. If white students had tried to prevent a black professor teaching an English course because he couldn't understand the soul of a beau- tiful white poet like Chaucer, we'd have thrown them out for racism, right away. But because they're black we con- done it. "So I say the whole thing was racist. Also elitist and arrogant because they knew what was right and wrong." Why did it occur specifical- ly at that time? "It was a product of af- fluence, a generation brought up to "believe supremely in its own opinions. They were led by people without serious career or vocational com- mitments. They didn't come out of business administra- tion or engineering. They came out of liberal arts and social science. "It was true at Harvard, Berkeley and Columbia. And here. Many of them, I think, were simply draft evaders." Was his firmness responsi- ble for quelling the unrest? "I think so. I saw no other solution. College teachers and professors, me included, are all pretty nice guys. We try to understand our students. Even if they display irration- ality, we try to reason with them. "I think an administrator's task is different. He has to maintain conditions under which education can be con- tinued. I had to suspend my ordinary teacheriy functions of trying to understand un- reasonable howling mobs. "I just bad to call in the cops to restore the kind of order under which the ma- jority of students could go back to class." Bitterness Some bitterness still ling- ers among faculty and stu- dents who have branded him a stooge of Gov. Ronald Reagan (who applauded Ha- They deplore his authoritarianism. "So much of my fan retorts Hayakawa, 'came from people who had never been to college themselves, sometimes badly misspelled, ungrammatical. letters say- ing, 'I never got past fifth grade and can't understand kids trying to tear up the place.' Were there any benefits to the educational process from the student commotions? "No. No benefits whatso- ever. There was disruption of peoples' education, des- truction of academic stand- ards, the introduction of a lot of contentless courses, so- called 'relevant.' For a cou- ple of years, black studies, for example, were simply staging grounds for revolu- tionary propaganda." During the five years since he becamse president of the university has he been able to pursue his own scholarly interests? "Nothing. Of course, I re- flected on these events. So many faculty, particularly in the Ivy League colleges, have this liberal sympathy for the underdog. No one surveyed the Negro masses to find out if the Black Panthers really represented what they want- ed. They just took the Panth- ers' or the Black Students Union's word for it and white liberals supported them, like Kingman Brewster of Yale. "I myself know something about Negro masses, having worked for a Negro newspap- er (the Chicago Defender) and having spent much of my adult life within the Negro community. I knew the Black Panthers didn't stand for any large constituency and there- fore I could take a stand against them. I was ca'1od every kind of damn racist, of course Did he come out of this whole experience with a good feeling? "It's been good for me. Lot of sell-insight, lot of con- firmation of beliefs I was 62 years old when I got into this. I wasn't a kid. I knew what the hell I wanted to do, what my values were. I am a teacher of semantics. I am a licensed psychologist in the state of California. I believe in therapeutic com- munication and still dp. I also understand there are limits. In the heat of battle, if someone is coming at you with a bay- onet charge, you don't com- mit psychotherapy on the guy. You defend yourself. "The error of most pyople in administration was trying to achieve therapeutic com- munication where it was to- tally inappropriate. The his- tory of the triumph of Nazi- ism in Europe is a perfect example of what happens and this was in the back of my mind. Especially when I watched Berkeley go to hell in 1964." Hayakawa's work in se- mantics, manifested ptiblic- ly with his best-selling book, "Language in Action" in 1941, stemmed from a study of the word tactics of Nazism. Now he has been asked to write a book on his adventures as a university president ami in- tends to do so in retirement. Will he miss the excite- ment? "There hasn't been any for a few he says, and shrugs S. I. HAYAKAWA 'If someone is coming at you with a bayonet charge, you don't commit psychotherapy on the guy. 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