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On Strike! Shut it Down! (Exhibit 1999)

Case 8: Community


"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." The English poet and philosopher, John Donne, noted the interrelationship of all things, the fact that although we are individuals, we also are inextricably linked to each other.

This case is about community and about our relationships with each other. Those relationships are as links in a chain. One link can touch two--or three--or more. San Francisco State University does not exist in a vacuum. It is not an island, but geographically part of the city, abutting against several neighborhoods. What happens on our campus may affect the neighbors--parking, noise, numbers of people in a given area. Members of the student body, staff, faculty, and management come from San Francisco, from surrounding cities and towns, from the state of California, from the nation, and from abroad. The University is not an autonomous institution, but one of 22 campuses of the California State University System, which itself is subject to action by the Chancellor's Office, the Trustees of the system, the California State Legislature, the Governor, and the public. Many of our students, faculty, and staff have attended other academic institutions, and have academic and social connections to those institutions and to those they met there. Although many of our students are the first in their families to come to college, others are in the third and fourth generations of their family to attend San Francisco State. Our graduates are employed in positions with businesses and other organizations within the city, and in communities, near and far. And, those businesses have recruiters who come to San Francisco State looking for talented new employees. Often when our graduates take a new position, they may find other San Francisco State graduates who already work in that institution. Members of the campus community have a wide variety of interests and connections with various kinds of organizations within the city and elsewhere. Students, faculty, and other members of the campus community often donate their talents to help others on a local, regional, and/or national level. Members of the San Francisco State community have always been connected to outside "community" or "communities" in many different ways. They have their experiences in their campus life, and at the same time they have links with their families and with many different organizations and groups elsewhere. These relationships have existed from our beginnings, as a normal school, when our students went forth to work in communities all across California and elsewhere.

The 1960s were for the San Francisco State student a period of activism and involvement in the community. Many students were especially interested in social action. In 1964, the Associated Students' Tutorial Program had San Francisco State students tutoring children in various off campus centers. A later Associated Students' program, the Community Involvement Program, introduced students to community organizing and various programs such as: working with youth in Chinatown tenants' organizations; a graphic arts workshop for ghetto children in Oakland; an African-American repertory theater group; a community housing and job co-op in the Haight-Ashbury; fighting urban renewal plans in the Mission, and supporting farm workers and the grape boycott. The Black Students Union developed many programs, including tutoring African-American children, setting up an African-American draft counseling service in the Fillmore, and working with the African-American high school students in setting up programs that would address their specific needs in the areas of curriculum and more African-American teachers. The BSU also started to work on a special admissions program to help African-American high school students qualify for admission to San Francisco State. Similar tutorial and recruitment programs were developed by other campus groups, such as the Mexican-American Student Confederation, the Latin American Student Organization, and the Phililppine-American College Endeavor. The Inter-collegiate Chinese for Social Action worked with social service agencies in Chinatown, as well as conducting English classes for immigrant Chinese teenagers. Early in the spring of 1967, the College Commitment Program was created from a conference of local colleges and universities for the purpose of recruiting minority students. San Francisco State's program was directed by Juan Martinez, who actively recruited students from local high schools. For example, Professor Martinez, and members of the program, worked with high school students at San Francisco's Mission High School, encouraging them to submit applications for admission to San Francisco State. Many young people in the Mission District finally began to dream of going to college. Unfortunately, the College Commitment Program would not last because of inadequate funding and lack of support from the participating high schools. Community members, as well as students, taught classes in San Francisco State's Experimental College, one of the first "alternative" colleges in the country to offer courses that did not reflect the traditional college curriculum.

In 1968-1969, as the turmoil of student and faculty actions unfolded on campus, members from outside communities, and individual citizens across the country, in some way or another, became involved with the student and faculty strikes at San Francisco State. Media coverage of events, on our campus, in the form of newspaper and journal articles, television, and the radio would have an impact on the local communities and their leaders, the ordinary citizen, and the country's political leaders. Individual citizens wrote hundreds of letters to San Francisco State presidents. In the early months of President Hayakawa's leadership, he received 15,000 cards and letters. Many were letters of support and some were letters of condemnation. Students and faculty members from neighboring academic institutions, other California State Colleges, and schools across the country sent messages of support. Students and faculty from local institutions, such as City College of San Francisco and San Jose State even participated in the protests and picket lines. The labor community and the Mayor's office were actively involved in mediating strike activities. Community leaders, like Dr. Carleton Goodlett, Willie Brown, Ron Dellums, and Cecil Williams all came to campus to offer their assistance. They also held meetings off campus to help resolve the strike. Through the instantaneous ability of the media, people from all over the world became aware of the activities at San Francisco State and many voiced their opinions through correspondence. As a direct result of the 1968-1969 turmoil, President Hayakawa went on to become a United States Senator from California in 1976.

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