Michigan State News
"Minds and mouths and MSU"
Violence? Verbal harassment? Destruction?
Is this the way the Movement will escalate the movement on campus?
Outside agitators? The proverbial "non-student?"
To the Movement: What a bunch of baloney?
To the administration: What a bunch of baloney?
First, The Movement. It's really a groove to continue night after night rapping over the injustices in the University. It's beyond cool to come right out with a resounding " . . .administration" or " . . . Establishment" right to their face. Nothing's greater than blowing the mind of an administrator, a faculty member, a university president, a policeman, by publicly calling him a racist, a pig, a liar, as infinitum.
It's an absolute gas. Isn't it?
Second, the administration.
You're doing your own thing, too.
It's easy to continue with your normal routine, nearly oblivious to the grievances of a disturbed "small minority of students." It's just a few hundred in a University of 40,000, you say.
Simple, isn't it. Ignore it and it will go away.
But will it really? No, probably not.
No matter what you think of the tactics of the demonstrators, there is no question that what they are trying to do is healthy for a dynamic educational institution, responsive to the issues of the times.
Many people, probably the great majority, of the Movement are deeply non-violent. They wish no aggressive acts. But when desires are constantly ignored by the powers-that-be, tensions are bound to rise.
Monday evening, when there were incidents of car-rocking, for instance, the tensions were so built-up that maliciousness was aroused. And grabbing pipes and rocks on the way to Olds Hall was simply stupid. In fact, what happened did more to harm the cause of the protestors than to help it. At the same time, however, it cannot be simplistically dismissed as violence to tear down the University.
The student protestors are not out to simply antagonize, and they are not out to destroy. They are doing what they do in order to gain attention and serious consideration for their demands.
"Demands, indeed!" you say. Demands, proposals, points-of-thought, discussion-starters, desires, wishes, wants, points-of-departure. Are you listening? Are you thinking about them? Are you giving them any credence at all?
To the protestors, it sure doesn't look like it.
When you have an important point to make and others involved simply ignore you, frustration results. Few want violence.
The substantive goals of the Movement remain the opening of the University, the freeing of people within the community and the re-evaluation of the directions of the society in general.
But what have they found in you administrators? Not fully hate, although you make your bows to the "bad agitators." Not fully love, although you make your bows to "the vast majority of good students." But mostly obliviousness.
The vast majority of administrators engage in no real communication with the Movement. They have already made up their minds that they are not dealing with people, but with long-haired, grubby, bearded hippies. With freaks. With irresponsible agitators. With the buggaboo of buggaboos-SDS! (Eeeeeck!)
Why don't you say something unentangled and undistorted by the stereotypes which you so abhor? Why don't you try to over-ride your own personal prejudices for a moment and listen with sincerity?
And Movement, why don't you over-ride your stereotype of the Ogre in the Ad Bldg.? You too are dealing with people. You have said many important things. You have listened to only the faintest whispers from the administration. You have been supremely thwarted. But in the end, nothing will be accomplished by coercion. You may destroy the University, but you will only cause reaction to set in elsewhere.
The goal on both sides should be to convince. The way to begin is with an open mind allied with commitment.
So far, we have seen no real violence on this campus since last spring. The minor scuffles during the "State of the University" speech were just that - minor scuffles. Yet we've heard it described as gross violence. The reason, it seems, is that the protests are political in nature. Somebody is trying to change the system. And administrators feel threatened.
The spiral has already begun and we plead to both sides for a halt before this campus turns into a senseless battleground.
It is easy at this stage for the fight to devolve into mere polemics between the Movement and the administration, each charging that the other is illegally or immorally bringing in "outside forces." But such forces inevitably will be used by both sides unless the people involved stop seeing stereotypes instead of ideas, and open their minds as well as their mouths.
We sincerely hope that neither side waits for the other to act - waits until it is too late.