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Thursday, October 9. 1980 ' Weekender. Pegs 5 jj
Course a u ides .students- in oooSvzsnq ocYovism
By LYNN CASEY
T'S not very often that a class
will include speeches by Martin
U Luther King, Jr., Stokely
Carmichael, Eldridge Clever, Phyllis
Schlafly, Richard Nixon and Jo
With such a list of speakers, it's no
wonder 103 Bingham is packed every
Tuesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. Of
course, the speakers do not appear in
person it's all on tape. So why do
'You learn facts,
but you also learn
to step back and
look at things with
a more critical eye
Speech 61 student
students pack the lecture hall for a
course that requires minimal note
taking, and in which the professor
doesn't take roll or give pop quizzes?
The speech course, "The Rhetoric
of Contemporary Social Movements,"
is more than interesting because it
deals with protest movements that
are relevant today. Secondly, the
professor, Robert Cox, encourages
discussion among the more than 100
students in the class.
The purpose of the course, says
Cox, is to look at the persuasive use
of symbols both verbal and
nonverbal in recent social
"The course tries to develop an
appreciative, critical understanding
of social protest and collective
behavior that has helped to shape
America in the '60s, 70s and '80s."
Speech 61 Professor Robert Cox talks to class
. . . Roll never taken, but no empty seats in course
The course, however, is more than
a lecture session for its students. "It's
the type of course that encourages
people to become interested in a
subject," says Mike Piatt.
"It's valuable' Piatt says. "It's
history but it's more than that. What
you learn in class can be applied to
what's going on now. You learn facts,
but, you also learn to step back and
look at things with a more critical
The students are not the only ones
who are excited about the class. So is
Cox and he doesn't hesitate in letting
his students know how much he
appreciates their interest and
"He's so excitec about the course
th3t it's transmitted to everyone else
in the class," Piatt says.
Cox has taught the course for three
years but considers this semester's
students to be the most attentive he's
had so far. ,
"This class is asking a lot more
questions," Cox says, "But they're not
taking sides on issues that 10 years
ago moved people to protest.
"I continue to be surprised at how
little controversy tends to be
generated. I suspect more personal
involvement as we move along in the
course and start discussing more
familiar issues like abortion and the
The majority of the class has
developed a tolerance for the
rhetoric of all types of political views,
but at the same time they have not
given up their own beliefs. Cox says.
"I hope the course will give
students the ability to make critical
evaluations of others and to
articulate their rationale for doing
so," Cox said. "I don't discourage
making value judgments in the
During his first semester teaching
the course, Cox was stunned when a
student asked what napalm was
during a discussion of the anti-war
Cox said he realized then that most
of the students in college today were
nine and 10 years old when
demonstrations broke out on college
campuses during the '60s.
'This class is asking
a lot more
they're not taking
sides on issues that
10 years ago,
moved people to
Though the Vietnam War is history
now for m most students at the
University, for Cox it is a part of his
past he can't forget. And the naivete
of students about the protests in that
period is making him think about his
own age as he teaches about the
activism of today.
)t SUDDOrt the use of marches and demonstrations
j "One thing our group decided, and we hope it will
.ive appeal, is to get our views across in a rational
jay," said Gary Pressley, a member of Carolina
.udents for Freedom. "We believe ideas in the long
p carry more weight if they're not carried on in a
Still, the use of demonstrations is not ruled out
.tally by groups wanting to make their purpose
ible to the public.
tin April of 1979, a group of black students gathered
J the steps of South Building to protest the
diversity's decision to deny tenure to Sonja Stone, a
J-director of the curriculum in African and Afro
;ierican studies. The'decision later was reversed.
Jn November, 200 people attended a silent protest
linst violence. The vigil, which was in front of the
inklin Street post office, followed the Nov 3, 1979,
ling of five CWP members in a shootout between the
Klux Klan and CWP in Creensboro. The Chapel Hill
ptest also had a direct link to the '60s. A silent vigil
js held in front of the post office every Wednesday
,m 1967 to 1973, the longest continuing protest of its
d in U.S. history.
j ollowing Iran's Nov.-4, 1979, seizure of the U.S.
fibassy in Tehran and the taking of 52 American
.stages, students at Carolina and across America
ield campus demonstrations denouncing Iran's
jWhen a demonstration is planned, the group holding
; protest must continue to be sensitive to public
rccptions of its actions if the demonstration is to be
j' People hold sit-ins and demonstrate out of
essity, says Allen Johnson, cultural coordinator
for the Afro-American studies curriculum. Johnson
attended undergraduate and graduate school at UNC.
"No one likes to demonstrate. There's always the
chance no one will show up to protest, and you end up
'No one likes to demonstrate.
There's always the chance no one
will show up to protest, and you
end up looking foolish
"Since I've been here, the Black Student Movement
has had a demonstration every year. Some years we
had three or four. So far, we haven't had to protest this
AROLINA Students for Life plans to picket the
1 1 abortion ward at N.C. Memorial Hospital later
this year. The decision to picket was agreed
upon only after careful deliberation by the group, said
Chris Kremer, co-chairman of CSL.
"We passed out a questionnaire to members to see
if they would support a picket," Kremer says. "Ninety
percent of those questioned said they would support
the picket. The others said they were opposed to that
type of political activity."
Groups are as careful about the words they use as
they are about their actions. For example, Carolina
Students for Freedom spent much time in choosing its
"We debated between the use of the word 'freedom'
and the use of the word 'liberty,' " Gary Pressley said.
"We chose the word 'freedom' because we didn't want
to be confused with the Libertarians. The name we
chose also leaves us open to include other issues
"We disapproved of 'anti-ERA' because it is a
negative term instead of a positive one."
Not all groups strive for mass appeal. Moral
Majority, which recently has gained strong political
support across the nation, limits its appeal to
On campus, the Revolutionary Communist Party for
several years has sponsored a literature table near the
Pit almost every week. Carolyn Klyce, a supporter of
the party and a former member of the Communist
Youth Brigade, says the RCP stands for revolution and
makes no bones about it. Group appeal is not
important to the party's members.
"If you stand for something and call yourself
something else that would be dishonest," Klyce said.
No one knows what the future of political activism
at Carolina will be or which groups will be most
influential in the XOs. One thing is certain: People will
continue to debate issues and attempt to win support
for their stands on the issues.
The rhetorical tactics will continue changing a they
did over the past decade. For now, violent protect has
been muted to organized lobbying. As Abbie Hof fman,
former '60s activist, recently said, emphasi oi
activism today has shifted from confrontation to
Lynn. Casey is an editorial asssfjnf for The Daily Tar