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The Daily Tar HeelWednesday, November 15, 19895
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To raise awareness
By VICKI HYMAN and ELIZABETH MURRAY
The scene is a large East Coast college campus. Stu
dents, wearing black arm bands and chanting, "Hell no!
u We won't go," are gathered around the building in
which the chancellor s othce is located. Police,
carrying guns and clubs, are prepared to beat back the
crowd if the situation gets out of hand. Suddenly, a
smoke bomb goes off in the midst of the protesters. The
crowd surges forward, throws open the doors and
storms the building.
That was the '60s.
Today, after 20 years of political evolution, the
issues have changed, as have the methods. But the
passion and idealism of student activists persist.
The makings of an activist
One theory of activist motivation states that activists
are strong-willed, intelligent people reacting to the ills
they see in the world around them. A second theory
states that activists' behavior is an extension of their
hostility toward authority figures.
But the true explanation is not that clear-cut, said
David Galinsky, chairman of UNC's psychology
"What's the difference between Charles Manson and
Mahatma Gandhi? It's always a very complex phenom
ena," Galinsky said. "For some, (activism) is an expres
sion of a very pure commitment. For others, it's a
mixture of caring and drive that are based primarily on
negative characteristics (such as hostility and
Family structures also can play a part in determin
ing whether a child will be more likely to be active in
student movements. "With more domineering families,
there is a lot of effort to control, and there is a more
rebellious orientation. In a more permissive family
structure, the child is comforted by and embraces the
views of the family activism is the living out of the
family styles and views," Galinsky said.
Environmental issues have always been a concern for
junior Blan Holman, co-chairperson of the Student En
vironmental Action Committee (SEAC).
"I grew up doing a lot of stuff outdoors hunting,
. fishing and my family has always spent a lot of time
' outdoors. You read that a lot of unhealthy things are
going on. I could see things were getting messed up,"
Holman said. "I also debated in high school, and we
(debated about) environmental issues. That gave me the
evidence that crystallized the issues."
Activism peaks in college
College is the ideal time for activism, said Craig
Calhoun, associate professor of sociology. "There are
certain stages in life when you are more likely to
become active. Adolescence in general and college in
particular (make up) one of those stages because people
tend to be in the process of forging their own identities
and thinking really hard about beliefs and issues."
The diversity of the university atmosphere is
especially conducive to activism, said sophomore Chris
Brannon, president of Students for the Ethical Treat
ment of Animals (SETA). "There wasn't a lot of room
for activism in high school. One of the most important
aspects of a university is that you have a chance to
debate and mingle with people who feel differently."
Students become more active in general once they
find an issue they strongly believe in, Calhoun said.
College can introduce students to such issues. "The
majority of activists are motivated by an overwhelming
concern about one particular problem. They don't start
out being active in general. Once you get involved in
one issue, you tend to be active in others."
College students also are relatively free of responsi
bility, which gives them more opportunity to express
their beliefs. "At colleges four-year ones as
' opposed to community colleges ... there's flexibil-
1 ity in schedules and the
risks are greatly
t reduced," Calhoun
said. "It's a sort of
time-out from the
regular world of work.
There's no responsibility
to parents, no boss that
might be offended, and
if you are arrested, it's
viewed differently in
college than at other
stages in life."
College students also
have gained confidence
in themselves, he said.
"You've learned how
to organize people.
You found out you
could do it and not get into trouble. You get to know
other kinds of people who are activists who reinforce
The college community brings together people of
similar interests. "In a community like this, there is a lot
of concern about issues and respect for activists,"
Calhoun said. "You've been brought together with a
large number of people and concentrated in the same
space. All these people packed together on a college
campus lends itself to activism. Activists need activists.
They may be leaders, but they aren't solo activists."
Holman said he doesn't want to play an extremist
role at UNC. "We want to educate people. You don't
have to make a lot of noise. The issue, the idea, is most
There are many different ways of making people
aware of the problems, Holman said. "You can scale a
radio tower. You can hang a banner from the Y. You
can have a can-crushing contest ... It's just depressing
how many people walk away. They don't realize how
important it is. They don't think they can do anything
about it. But if we don't, nothing is going to get
Brannon agreed that awareness was an important part
of activism. "With animal rights ... I'm not dealing exclu
sively with squirrels and chipmunks, but with human
beings. One person can only do so many things. We're
more awareness-oriented we try to get people inter
ested. Activism begets activism. We hope more and more
people find that they can't stand something any longer
and go out and change it. That can't be anything but a
positive learning experience."
Going to extremes
Activists need to work within the system to realize their
goals, Brannon said. "Any time I see a problem, I try to
deal with it within the
system, talk to people
involved, convince them
the policy is incorrect. (I)
keep stepping up, perhaps
hold a vigil, a protest
"I don't believe in
breaking a law, except in
cases of civil disobedience,
but that also involves
taking responsibility for
Brannon said he would
go to jail to promote his
beliefs if he thought that
step needed to be taken.
"It's not something I
practice lightly. If what
you're doing is so important, you have to go to jail."
Holman agreed. "I would go to jail if I thought it would
help. A lot of people I work with would. It's kind of
exhilarating we all started to talk about it, and we were
surprised to find that we all would."
Students should be the first ones to take a stand for
their beliefs, Holman said. "I think students ought to be on
the radicalized end of things because if students don't do
something, no one will. The risk you take when you
become too radical is that one, you scare off a lot of
people who could help you, and two, people don't listen
they can't look past the fact that you're way on the
outside. You don't want to scare them, but (you do want
to) get them thinking."
Senior Jerry Jones, a member of the CIA Action Com
mittee (CIAAC), said activism was an integral part of his
life and he would go to extremes for his beliefs. "This
(activism) is what I do for a living, and I've done it for a
living in times past. But I don't intend to live a very long
life, and I think placing limits on one's consciousness is a
very dangerous thing.
"Speaking for myself, I'm prepared to do anything and
everything within the confines of truth and nonviolence.
That's the only way to live. To not do things that you
know are the right things to do simply because they are
inconvenient you don't like jails or you like to eat
aren't good enough reasons."
A blanket of apathy
Only about 1 percent of the student population at UNC
can be considered activist-oriented, Jones estimated.
"I think (the 1980s) has generally been a somewhat
more quiescent period in the sense thai there haven't been
as many issues that have inspired such widespread
activism," said Pamela Conover, associate professor of
Students and the public in general aren't any more
apathetic than they've been previously, Conover said.
"Just because people aren't protesting doesn't mean
they're apathetic. People can be quite allegiate or
satisfied, or they can be active in society in a way that
doesn't involve protest."
Others disagreed. "I think, unfortunately, the students
here are very apathetic," said freshman Charlton Allen,
a member of the College Republicans. "Because we are
a democracy and our government is based on people's
opinions, I don't see how it could be beneficial if people
don't care. I think for the most part they just think it
can't make a difference."
Students aren't the only ones who are apathetic and
escapist, Jones said. "All across the country people
aren't responding to what they are seeing. I don't think
there's ever been a civilization or culture like ours that
is so inept at dealing with the realities of life. I think it's
a problem. I think it's a real problem."
The apathetic majority often cannot understand
those people who do try to make a change, Brannon
said. "People cut down Dale (McKinley). I'm not
saying I endorse him or I don't. People are saying,
'Dale, sit down, shut up. We don't want to hear what
you have to say.' That's ridiculous. That's apathy.
Stifling someone's opinions is never good."
According to Holman, "As a whole, our society is too
apathetic about environmental issues. I know a lot of
people who don't give a damn. They haven't learned to
give a damn. Caring sometimes hurts your G.P.A. We
try to convince them to leam to care."
Commitment to the cause
Although some students may not be sympathetic to
many of the current issues that concern activists, most
seem to feel a certain admiration for the individuals
behind the protests.
"I think it is good to see people dedicated to a cause
they really believe in, even if I don't believe in it," said
Ken Heft, a sophomore math and science major from
Penllyn, Pa. "But you
have to be able to draw a
line so that you can get
your point across without
upsetting a lot of
Anne Shaw, a fresh
man speech communica
tions major from
Charlotte, said she
doesn't mind activism as
long as people don't try
to force their beliefs on
her. "As far as expressing
your own opinion, go for
it," she said.
The bottom line is
acting in the name of
what you believe in,
Jones said. "I think I've made a good effort at trying to
do the right thing, and that's taking into account a
whole lot of things. You guarantee making a fool of
yourself when you become an activist. It can't be
avoided, but the important thing is that you make the
effort to follow your conscience and try to do the right
By NOAH BARTOLUCCI
The building was filled with blankets, clothing, food
scraps, paper plates, cans, cartons and a couple of campus
This was the scene two decades ago when Manning
Hall, which then housed the UNC Law School, was seized
by student demonstrators. The students were using a food
strike to protest the deplorable working conditions and
unfair treatment of black workers in Lenoir Dining Hall.
Police lined the cafeteria's entrance, where small riots,
often would break out. Protesters and police exchanged y.
punches, while bottles and milk crates were hurled
Manning served as the headquarters where protest
leaders would give speeches to motivate demonstrators
and denounce the University administration.
Soon the governor decided the protest had gone too far.
He ordered state troopers to reclaim Manning Hall.
This is the story of the 1968 Manning Hall student
conquest, as Jim Shumaker, associate professor of jour
nalism, remembers it. "Highway patrolmen lined up with
riot gear and billy clubs," Shumaker said. "They locked
arms and moved straight across the campus with students
backing up in front of them. It was the first time the
campus had been occupied by a hostile force since the
The issue cooled down after a couple of days and
students returned to class.
This example of activism was typical of the student
protest era of the late '60s and early '70s. Nationwide,
students received a mixture of criticism and respect. ;
In 1968, C. Wilson Anderson, then dean of the UNC :
School of Social Work, told the Daily Tar Heel that he
understood both viewpoints. "Students today are more
alert to the social and political problems of our time and
are eager to get ideas both within and without the
academic structure," he said.
However, he added that a minority of students did
"delight in controversy for controversy's sake."
As student activism gained momentum in the late '60s, :
a significant number of UNC faculty members and even
administrators voiced their support.
"At least half of the faculty were supportive of the
student efforts," Shumaker said. "A lot of them even
marched with the students."
The University chancellor in 1968, J. Carlyle Sitterson,
was considered by most to have taken a moderate stance
on student activism, according to DTH articles that year.
While he urged students to "support the University
wherever and whenever possible," he also recognized the
student's right to dissent.
"Student unrest arises from the understandable and
commendable desire of students to help make the policies
affecting their living and learning on campus," Sitterson
Students used their imaginations when active protests
failed to produce change. "The students were quite
clever," Shumaker said. "One Saturday after a basketball
game, student demonstrators blocked every single road
leaving Woollen (Gymnasium). Nobody could leave until
the police showed up. I remember they threw the demon
strators into an old bread truck they had converted into a
During another protest, students joined Vietnam
veterans to picket on Franklin Street. They were marching
to protest the draft and held up traffic for half an hour
before marching across campus.
That same month, a group of students made their way
across campus to the chancellor's house to present a
petition asking for greater academic freedom.
Of course, some protests lacked the depth and support
that formed the foundation for other movements, but they
made up for it with humor. On Oct. 28, 1968, 15 students
picketed the Circus Room snack bar in protest of the poor
quality of sandwiches sold there. Students held aloft signs
reading "UNC sandwiches more effective than napalm"
and "We demand free Rolaids with every UNC sand
wich." The highlight of the picketing came about 1 1 a.m.
when Tom Shetley, head of Student Stores, came to the ;:
Circus Room. He smiled and said, "Good morning, ;:
gentlemen and ladies" and then went inside. A few
minutes later, Shetley reappeared eating a UNC chicken '
Shetley dismissed the boycott as immature and said, f
"These sandwiches are the best I've ever tasted." ;
C 4- 02 Fifteen students picket the Circus Room to
vJCu Z,0 protest the poor quality of UNC sandwiches.
C 4- 1 Q About 1,000 s,udents assemble outside Le- :
vJCt. Zo noir Hall to show support for dormitory visita
7T r C s,x students are arrested during a Franklin
IN O V. D Street party held by the Southern Student
Organization Commlttee.Theparty's purpose
was to show people that while "the politicians
are in office, the streets belong to the people "
XT 1 K About 200 students march to the chancellor's
1NOV. ID house to show support for visitation privi
leges. The students found no one home.
pv i-i Students join the United Anti-war Mobilization
JLCC. Front In a march down Franklin Street to sup
. port freedom of speech for G.l.s.
ti rj About 450 white students march across
JrCD. campus and occupy South Building In sup
port of a list of Black Student Movement
demands. The BSM was demanding stepped
up programs for recruiting and aiding black
students at UNC, as well as the creation of a
black counterpart to the student legislature.
jp DU ") A Black food service employees strike for better
-TCP ZMr working conditions and fair treatment,
a rr Women In Parker Residence Hall protest an
pr. juy . excess of fire drills by refusing to leave the
building during alarms. 4