My KPFA - A Historical Footnote




A documentary of the Free Speech Movement

at the University of California, Berkeley

Fall 1964




September 17, 1964: Student political organizations of the Berkeley campus of the University of California prohibited from setting up tables to solicit funds or advocate off‑campus political activity.


September 30, 1964: Students deliberately violate University regulation on political activity. Eight students suspended indefinitely.


First sit‑in at Sproul Hall, the campus Administration building.


October 1, 1964: University regulation deliberately violated again. A non‑student violator arrested. Students surround police car, and add to previous demands, the release of the arrested man and the revocation of the eight suspensions.


October 2, 1964: Students continue to surround police car; more than 500 policemen brought to campus as student leaders negotiate with University President Clark Kerr. They reach agreement that: students. will end their “illegal protest”; the University will not press charges against arrested man; cases of the eight suspended students 'will he submitted to the “Student Committee of the Academic Senate” and a student‑faculty‑administration committee will be established to review and make recommendations on regulations on student political activity.


October 7, 1964: American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California announces that it is intervening on behalf of the eight suspended students, after learning that there is no such committee as the “Student Conduct Committee of the Academic Senate,” and that the students' cases have been submitted to the “Committee on Student Conduct,” made up of faculty members appointed by the Administration.


Students also begin protesting against make‑up of the 12‑member student‑faculty‑administration committee, after the administration appoints four administration, four faculty and two of the four student representatives.


October 13, 1964: Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate meets and “. . . notes with pleasure the general improvement in recent years in the atmosphere of free inquiry and free exchange of opinion within the university.” The senate also directs its academic freedom committee to “. . . inquire immediately into recent university rulings on student political activity, student protests against these rulings and the larger problem of students' rights to the expression of political opinion on the campus.”


November 9, 1964: Students again violate university regulation on political activity, and the University administration abrogates the agreement of October 2nd.


October 16, 1964: After a meeting of the University Board of Regents, President Kerr offers to expand student‑faculty‑administra­tion committee to six representatives of each group, and to allow the faculty to appoint the additional faculty members, and the Free Speech Movement to appoint four student representatives.


October 19, 1964: A special faculty committee appointed to consider the cases of the eight suspended students and make recommendations to the Chancellor.


November 9, 1964: Students again violate university regulation on political activity, and the administration abrogates the agreement of October 2nd, contending that it required students not to engage in “illegal demonstration” at any time.


November 13, 1964: The Special Faculty Committee recommends to the Chancellor that six of the eight suspended students be reinstated, and that the suspensions he expunged from their records; that the other two students, both leaders of the F.S.M., be reinstated, but without the notation on their records that they had been suspended; and that all eight he allowed to drop courses or withdraw from school for the remainder of the semester without academic penalty. The Committee also criticized the manner in which the suspensions had been handled, and the “vagueness” of the Regulations Governing Suspensions.


November 20, 1964: University Board of Regents meets and rules that all eight students may he reinstated, but that the six will retain notation of suspension on their records, and the other two will be on probation. The Regents also decide that the campus may be used for solicitation of funds and advocacy of political action off‑campus, but that the administration may discipline students who advocate “unlawful” activities.


Students protest that the regents made illegal a form of advocacy, and violated the provisions of the first and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution.


They also argue that placing the two leaders on probation leaves them subject to expulsion if any disciplinary action is taken for activities after September 30.


November 27, 1964: Berkeley campus Chancellor Edward Strong sends letters to four students, including the two placed on probation, informing them that they will be required to appear at a Hearing before the Committee on Student Conduct on charges of having engaged in illegal activities during the demonstrations of October 1 and 2.


December 1, 1964: The Free Speech Movement announces that it will begin a round‑the‑clock sit‑in at Sproul Hall if the administration does not meet three demands: that the charges against the four students be dropped, that the Administration guarantee not to take further disciplinary action against students or student groups for activities in previous demonstrations; and that the Administration grant the previous demands for removal of restrictions on political activity.


December 2, 1964: The Free Speech Movement holds a rally attended by five thousand persons on the steps of Sproul Hall. The Adminis­tration does not meet the three demands, and 1,100 persons begin the sit‑in.


December 3, 1964: At about midnight, Governor Edmund Brown announces that he has ordered local and State law enforcement officials to arrest “students and others who may be in violation of the law at Sproul Hall.”


About 3 a.m., Chancellor Strong and a Lieutenant of the campus police inform students that they are in violation of California laws against illegal assembly and will be arrested if they do not leave in five minutes. Few leave. Arrests begin about 3:45 a.m., and continue until after 6 p.m. A total of 814 persons are arrested.


December 3, 1964: The Academic Senate intervenes, adopting the resolution printed at right by a vote of 824 to 115. The Free Speech Movement announces that if the Regents accept the Academic Senate's recommendations, it will disband.


The University, which has always stood for democratic principles, including observance of the law, expects faculty, staff and students to carry on the orderly processes of the University and to reject what has become an FSM attempt at anarchy.

Clark Kerr, President, University of Calif., Dec. 3, 1964


There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machines will he prevented from working at all.

Mario Savio, Sit‑in Rally, Dec. 2, 1964


FSM demands: that University regulations be revised so that only the court regulate the content of political expression; that the faculty, students, and administration jointly regulate the form of political expression; and that University regulations which unnecessarily restrict political activity be repealed.


Dec. 2, 1964 The Academic Senate recommends:


. . . that there shall be no University disciplinary measures against members or organizations of the University community for activities prior to December 5th, connected with the current controversy over political speech and activity;


. . . that the time, place and manner of conducting political activity on the campus shall he subject to reasonable regulation to prevent interference with the normal functions of the University; ... that the content of speech or advocacy should not he restricted by the University; off-campus political activities shall not be subject to University regulations;


. . . that future disciplinary measures in the area of political activity shall be determined by a committee appointed by and responsible to the . . . Academic Senate.


Academic Senate, Dec. 8, 1964


NARRATION: Scott Keech – PRODUCTION: Scott Keech and Al Silbowitz – TECHNICAL PRODUCTION: George Craig – RECORDINGS: Erwin Goldsmith, Scott Keech, Burton White, John Whiting; and Bob Conheim, Colin Edwards, Bruce Henstell, Jerome Jenkins, Sid Roger, Al Silbowitz – PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS: Dane Cannon, Jack Nessel, Charles Shere; and Ray Bridge, Warren Vam Orden, Gary Taylor – COVER DESIGN: Ellen Anderson – COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Marshall Windmiller -- COVER TITLE: John Whiting