Campus Unrest

“Campus Unrest,” New Era, Sept. 1971, 31


Campus Unrest

Who should go to college? When and where should he go? How will he make it if he decides to go? Is tenure valid on campuses today? Should a student have a free voice in what he wants to learn in college and from whom he wants to learn it? How much general education does an undergraduate really need? Is the college campus a suitable arena for political and moral protests?

No mystic panaceas were discovered to these questions. Instead, the problems were articulated and a foundation was laid for more study and personal experience.

Our discussion leader was Dr. Robert J. Beveridge, a prominent Latter-day Saint surgeon and member of President Richard Nixon’s Ad Hoc Committee for the Investigation of Campus Unrest. By visiting fifty-four campuses throughout America, he and others were able to conclude that in liberal arts colleges the faculty accounts more for political activism than do the students, and that students are divided into three groups—80 percent who are genuinely seeking education; some floaters who go because their dads send them and who spend six or seven years in school, never deciding on a major; and a certain number of transients and agitators who often appear to be the same faces on different campuses, persons who travel from one college to another stirring up trouble.

With that background, the issues became specific. Dr. Beveridge said that the war in Vietnam is the primary object of protests mainly because college-age men are the ones most affected by it. The second major cause of protest, he said, deals with civil rights, including race problems, drugs, dormitory hours, free speech, and minority problems.

The discussion then turned to how to deal with the mechanics of university life, matters that have been heated on many campuses around the world.

1. Should students have a voice in the selection and retention of faculty? Our group generally agreed that only the faculty and administration should hire new instructors but that students should have a voice in their retention.

2. How much general education is necessary? Should a man or woman interested in medicine be required to take four years of undergraduate work, much of which has nothing to do with medicine? The group generally concluded that a liberal education is necessary before specializing in order to insure, in this case, that the practice of medicine will not become too mechanical and lifeless. The question to be answered is whether four years of such study is that much more effective than two or even one—years of general study.

3. Is tenure a valid practice? As one participant suggested, why not allow tenure but attach to it the necessity of review every two or three years?

4. Should everyone go on to college? It was agreed that the social pressure to continue on to college should be relaxed. Everyone does not need a college education. In fact, as Dr. Beveridge pointed out, many of today’s college graduates cannot find jobs in the field for which they were trained. It is obvious that “The glory of God is intelligence” should be expanded to mean much more than a college degree. Intelligence is a lifelong search.

What makes a good campus? If it teaches, as Dr. Beveridge suggested, knowledge, service to others, love for life, character, integrity, and intelligence, if is a successful institution of higher learning. He suggested a scripture from the prophet Micah that could be the motto of such an institution:

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8.)

Sketches by Dale Kilbourn