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Synapse: December 7, 1964

Sunday, December 7, 2014

From 50 Years Ago:

Vol. 9, No. 7, Dec. 7, 1964:

Today, a visitor to UC Berkeley can see a campus full of people recruiting, promoting, soliciting, tabling, proselytizing and otherwise communicating about political issues. Such political advocacy, however, was formerly banned on campus. The restriction was overturned in response to the Free Speech Movement, a series of student protests and negotiations with the administration in 1964–65.

In early December 1964, as part of these protests, a large number of students occupied an administrative building, leading to the arrests of approximately 800 people.  

Not all UC students sided with the protestors. The front page of the Dec. 7 issue of the Synapse read, “Berkeley Academic Senate Meets Today: SF Campus Declares Allegiance to [then-UC President] Kerr.” The associated article quoted two written statements, one from a number of UCSF faculty and one from the student government of UCSF.

“The Associated Students of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, would like to express their confidence in you [Kerr] and Governor Edmund G. Brown; and support your actions in the restoration and maintenance of law and order,” said the student statement, written by Melvyn Matsushima, president of the Associated Students.

The statement concluded, “when open dissension among various groups on a campus threatens the foundation of the University, the University is obligated to restore order on the campus with strong enforcement of existing University regulations.”

It is unclear what proportion of students at UCSF agreed with this statement. Indeed, the article quoting it was written by none other than Matsushima, who was also the editor of the Synapse.

Interestingly, this issue contained a single letter to the editor: a note to Matsushima from UCSF Chancellor John Bertrand deCusance Morant Saunders, praising the quality of the Synapse since he became editor and congratulating him, “for doing an excellent job.”