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Hove, Arthur O. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 69, Number 4 (Jan. 1968)

Moyer, Harriett
Student power,   pp. [14]-17

Page 15

S TUDENT POWER. The term sparks visions of dem-
   onstrations walk-outs, injunctions, campus disrup-
tions-but what are the facts? Is there a tie-in between
the recent demonstrations at Madison and the student
power movement? The majority of the students say
"no", or that the tie-in is indirect. This is the same con-
clusion re-aciec by Prof. fames F Crow, hfeaad otihe
department of genetics and medical genetics, who is
chairing an Ad Hoc Committee on the Role of Students
in the Government of the University. What then is this
student power movement which is so much in the news
and what issues are involved at Wisconsin?
   Ask six students to define the term, student power,
and you'll get six different answers, but there will be
some underlying similarity in the answers. Most of the
students will agree that the movement at Wisconsin is
currently focused on issues outside the classroom, that
the student wants clearly defined "rights" to conduct his
life as he wishes when not in class, and that the impor-
tant future concerns of the movement will be involved
with academic issues. A few students will say that stu-
dent power is primarily, if not almost exclusively, con-
cerned with extracurricular areas. The recent demon-
strations on the campus were essentially a protest
against war per se and Vietnam in particular. According
to students, the demonstrations became an indirect part
of the student power movement when they were linked
to the movement via statements by officials and news
  How and where did the student power movement get
started? Many authorities attribute its beginning to the
civil rights movement, for it was in this endeavor that
students learned the "tactics of bringing an organiza-
tion to a stop, of dramatizing events, of appealing to
publics." They learned "how to get power and it is a
lesson that has not been lost." Some students attribute
the movement's beginnings to left-wing politics, the
free speech movement at Berkeley, the purported imper-
sonality of the large American university, and the social
structure in general.
  Contrary to the opinion of the "man on the street,"
student activists are not "dumb and dirty." A current
study by Richard Flacks indicates that the typical activist
is highly intelligent and comes from a home where
humanistic values are stressed. The parents of these
students were found to be highly educated and political
liberals. The fathers were usually professional men and
the mothers frequently pursued careers of their own.
The atmosphere in their homes was permissive and
democratic. Student activism is a "result" not a "revolt",
concluded Flacks. The activists are concerned about
their world and their education. They completely reject
the "beats" or "hippies" who have attempted to solve
their problems by "dropping out" of society. The activ-
ists are concerned idealists who are trying to implement
their ideals Within the context of society. .........
7One Wisconsin student statecd that the dichotomy
involved in the student power movement probably boils
down to "student ideals versus the pragmatism of the
university." Student idealism is nothing new but the
militant activism personified in some respects by the
student power movement is new to the University scene.
S TUDENT ACTIVISTS are neither typical nor statisti-
   cally representative of the millions of college students,
but activists seldom are. Joseph Gusfield, professor of
sociology at the University of Illinois contends that
"They are more likely to be found at the larger univer-
sities or the small colleges that form the core of the,
academically prestigeful schools. That very place makes,
them important in directing and giving verbal shape to
the ideas of this generation. Nor are numbers a guide
to significance. Numbers alone give little indication of'
capacities to mobilize others in critical periods nor the
ability to create and shape events."
   Wisconsin is in the vanguard of liberal schools even
in the judgment of some of Madison's most adamant
student activists. Berkeley, Michigan, and Columbia are
most often compared to Wisconsin for liberalism in the
students' minds. Madison administrators have been con-
cerned with assuring student representation on campus
committees. As the fall semester got underway, for
example, students held 94 voting seats and nine non-
voting seats on 17 of the 25 Madison campus committee
areas, and students were recently appointed to two new
  The general tenor of the campus atmosphere over the
past years has generated emphasis on and concern for
evaluation of students' participation in the government
of the University. Last August, the Ad Hoc Committee
on the Role of Students in the Government of the Uni-
versity was appointed. This committee, chaired by
Prof. Crow, is currently in the throes of writing its
report after months of study. Amount of student par-
ticipation in the University operation and how best to
implement this participation appears to be the real crux
of the student power movement. The Ad Hoc Commit-
tee's specific recommendations on these matters will be
available in the near future.
lanuary, 1968

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