- Cornell '69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University
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- Cornell ’69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University
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Other student groups, drawn by a sense of justice and opposition to authority, joined this opposition. The introduction of guns escalated the message and the stakes. A violent confrontation seemed imminent, and the potential loss of life real. Under these circumstances, outside law enforcement was primed to reassert order over the campus, and president Perkins prioritized working with the students and averting violence. While the author views the outcome as failure to protect core academic principles, its worth pointing out that violence was averted. There was no loss of life.
At what point do principles become worth fighting for, even if that could mean lives damaged or lost? The answers to that question varied tremendously among campus leaders. That said, it is clear that the administration lost control of the situation, and the author clearly shows that it was not campus leadership that prevented a violent confrontation anyway, but rather the last-minute appeal of a sympathetic professor to a student horde of thousands, followed by a student leader's creative reframing of the moment.
The gathered masses, poised to transform into an outraged mob, instead settled into a largely peaceful sit-in.
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And the extremists, who wanted and needed the support of the student masses, did not end up pursuing the confrontation. The events at Cornell appear relevant to today, where a militant strain of populism has framed the U. Donald Trump has catalyzed this and the logic is one of confrontation and suppression.
Downs asks the question: how should a university respond when its core principles are being threatened by extremists? But the question today could just as easily be: how should a country respond when its core principles are are being threatened by extremists? In the end, the author concludes that the faculty and administration failed to gain sway over the student moderates and forcefully persuade them of the importance of core, inviolable principles.
He suggests it was a loss of message, a failure of preparedness and will, and it came close to costing human lives and destroying a revered institution. In an attempt to accommodate, Cornell misread the student opposition who wanted revolutionary change, were willing to sacrifice for it, and would never be appeased with small concessions. There is a message for today: a failure of message, preparedness, and willingness to sacrifice may again give rise to catastrophic confrontation where violence is the only perceived option.
Preventing those moments in history means laying the groundwork ahead of time and actively promoting central principles that underpin a community's identity. And when the moderates lose touch with those principles, great and terrifying dramas can unfold. Helen Andrews rated it really liked it Sep 29, Geoffrey Kabaservice rated it liked it Dec 06, Amy Rosso rated it really liked it Dec 27, Julie Baghajian rated it it was amazing Mar 07, Lara rated it it was amazing Aug 04, James Rich rated it really liked it Mar 29, Marcela rated it really liked it Feb 02, Lauren Wheeler rated it did not like it Aug 13, Patrick Timmons rated it it was amazing Feb 19, Markeisha Miner rated it it was ok Jan 01, Aaron rated it really liked it Apr 19, Christopher Saunders rated it really liked it Mar 06, Bliss marked it as to-read Jan 07, Heather added it Jun 09, Hubert marked it as to-read Oct 09, Gertjan marked it as to-read Jun 08, Arti marked it as to-read Mar 28, Ctkrohn added it Aug 03, Amanda Skjoldal marked it as to-read Nov 28, Justin marked it as to-read Mar 14, Ivan marked it as to-read Jul 29, M marked it as to-read Feb 02, Carlos marked it as to-read Apr 08, Alasdair Ekpenyong marked it as to-read Apr 09, Janice marked it as to-read Jul 14, Tim Wainwright marked it as to-read Jan 21, It is in this way that, in paradoxical contradiction to Benveniste, the events tell themselves.
A study of the memory of Cornell 69 is only possible with Strouts pause for reflection. The uncertainty that his query implies reveals that the story could be different. The uncertainties of narrative creation, ironically, are the key to unlocking the apparent certainty with which particular narratives, once sedimented in a communitys popular memory, reproduce themselves. Strouts rhetorical question means that these patterns of discourse are, in fact, significant.
These patterns signify as they persist, change, or suddenly cease. Introduction When I first found myself in the archives of Kroch Library, staring excitedly at what are now my sources, I did not know that the old newspaper and mimeographed flyers would lead to a thesis. The summer before my sophomore year, a family friend had loaned me Donald S. Downs book, Cornell The conduct of the thing was dumbfounding.
Parliamentary procedure, order, patience, rationality, openness. There were six thousand kids, a stage, a microphone, and a purposeIm sure the University would have been blown sky high were it not for this thing. I wondered how an event that was so central to one of the participants could occupy such a marginal space in the book, let alone the story of the Takeover that I had inherited. Out of the many times I had heard casual recitals of the story of. Cornell 69, not once had anyone mentioned that thousands of white students had seized the largest building on campus in solidarity with the AAS demands.
I was intrigued by the event itself, but I was even more intrigued by its erasure. I wrote a term paper my sophomore year on the disappearance of the Barton Hall Community from popular memory, and its relationship with what I saw as the disintegration of large-scale grassroots political activity at Cornell. At first, my thesis was to be a comprehensive version of this argument.
In my research, I began to notice the ways in which the Barton Hall Communitys erasure from the popular record was not only a somewhat recent phenomenon, but was only one facet in a larger and more consequential project of confiscating the memory of Cornell 69 entirely. I realized that, in many ways, Cornell 69 was an event racially and politically illegible to my generation, who had reinterpreted it in the language of post-racialism. As a consequence, the Takeover, an event arising from militant calls for black selfdetermination, became about diversity, post-racialisms way of acknowledging race while simultaneously erasing it.
In this sense, I have found that present-day rituals of remembrance that disown or ignore the Takeovers own distinct, powerful political vision function as mechanisms for sanitizing, appropriating, and ultimately forgetting the Takeover and the radical critique it represented. Instead of centering the grievances of black students, the Takeover was about everybody.
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Instead of black liberation and separatism, the Takeover, even in many of the former participants own words, became about integration, assimilation and abstract inclusivity. Although there are many complex, structural reasons for these changes, such as broader shifts in racial and political discourse, I trace these transformations at Cornell back to the year. Through this process of sanitization and erasure, the militants of the Afro-American Society, always assertive in their right to liberation, were turned into cowering, passive victims of both cultural misunderstanding and isolated acts of racism, lashing out in the hope that someone would acknowledge their tribulations.
The armed insurgents12 that were remembered in the s became the young, somewhat confused and misguided idealists found in post retrospectives. This transformation in the story told about the Takeover, I came to understand, was directly related to the later erasure of the Barton Hall Community in popular memory.
Ironically, it was only by isolating the black students from their white supporters that one could turn the problem of Cornell 69, namely that of institutional and extra-institutional racism, into what we now call diversity. Notably, this isolation makes them a minority, that is, a group that is disadvantaged simply because it exists in smaller numbers than another group, not because of structural oppression or institutional racism, as the black students at the time argued.
The story that I tell in this thesis has two main acts: in the first, I take as my point of departure a series of persistent myths13 about the Takeover, and explore their significance to the story itself. In seeking to understand these misconceptions, which are primarily glitches in the storys narrative sequence, I discuss the relationship between the Takeover and its historical context.
Finally, I diagram the processes by which the Takeover became its memory through these narrative configurations; I describe the mechanisms by which these narratives are reproduced, transformed, and rearranged. In the second, I concentrate on unraveling the afterlife of Cornell 69, and how popular conceptions of it have changed since it occurred. Chronicling the many narratives that emerged in the events aftermath, I trace their transformations over time. In particular, I focus on Cornell President Frank Rhodes administrations decision to sponsor the commemorations, and the ways in which this fundamentally changed the discourse surrounding the Takeover.
Insofar as there can be no neutral memory of the Takeover, I am invested in a memory of the Takeover that centers the critiques and aspirations voiced by the AAS during and immediately after the Takeover. In the spirit of such a project, I am interested in rendering visiblethat is to say, challengingthe administrative discourse of diversity by resuscitating the memory of the Barton Hall Community, understood as massive popular support for, first, a platform of black self-determination and autonomy, and second, a radical critique of the University.
It is my hope that the historical inquiry and analysis of this thesis will uncover some of the processes that work against such a project, while laying the groundwork for its future realization. Chapter 1 The Willard Straight Takeovers legacy began with a mistake. As soon as the students of the Afro-American Society walked proudly out of the front door of Cornells student union, wearing bandoliers and raising their fists in silent triumph, the first entries of what would become the Takeover in the historical record were being formulated and wired across the country.
Administrators lamented the New York Times reporter, Homer Bigart, who sensationalized their capitulation as the letters of furious alumni, vowing never to donate again, began to arrive at Day Hall. The Mass Media Committee, an. Nearly all of the major errors were about gunsor more specifically, at what point the AAS had brought guns into the Straight. The reports likely incomplete enumeration of representative examples includes five mistakes of this nature from the New York Times alone, in addition to one from The Baltimore Sun and The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Apparently some of the eighty demonstrators had guns then. Despite the Committees best efforts, Dennis A. Williams 73, a Cornell alumnus and administrator writing for Cornell Magazine, was still clarifying the chronology twenty-five years later. In fact, Williams elucidates, much of the common perception is wrong, beginning with the widespread assumption that the students were armed when they seized the building; the guns arrived later, after an attempt by white students to retake the building.
Three white students and one black student were injured in the fight. In fact, whether or not this misperception is explicitly addressed is the single greatest indicator of the position of the narrator in the many narratives surrounding the Takeover. It is a common feature in sympathetic accounts of the Takeover to make a point of clarifying this fact, and it is a feature of conservative accountswhich align themselves with alienated faculty whose academic freedom was infringed uponto ignore it. Whether the Takeover was a coercive act of seizing a building with guns to pressure the University into accepting student demands, or an act of self-defense against the threat of racist violence, can rest entirely on when, and thus why, the guns were brought into the Straight.
To misunderstand the internal sequence of the event is to misapprehend the events delicate meaning entirely; in other words, the Committees clarification of the narrative sequencean intervention also attempted incessantly by former AAS membershad profound political stakes. The persistence of sequence errorsmistakes in the narratives chronologyin the memory of the Takeover is filled with implication, not just for an analysis of the Takeovers legacy, but also for the popular memory of the s writ large.
Despite routine attempts at intervention, these misconceptions have been as persistent as the legacy itself. As critical distance from the events has increased, and scholarly work on the Takeover has been published, popular conceptions of the Takeover remain stubbornly inaccurate. What makes these mistaken accounts so compelling?
Cornell '69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University
What is at stake in their correction? What role do they play in the Takeovers emergence and preservation as a historical event, worthy of anniversaries and commemorations? In what ways does the Takeover transcend these sterile acts of remembrance. What implications do these corrections hold for the subversion of the master narratives of the protest era, the s? Events and Structures Structures are comprehensible only in the medium of the events within which structures are articulated, and which are tangible as structures within them Structures once described and analyzed then become narratable as a factor within a greater context of events.
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The processual character of modern history cannot be comprehended other than through the reciprocal explanation of events through structures, and vice versa. When they commemorate the Takeover every year in late April, refer to it in conversation, or deploy it in a polemic, what is signified? For historiographical theorist Rheinhardt Koselleck, the relationship between historical events and historical structures is reciprocal: events are often explained through their structural causes, and structures can only become legible through the chronicling of events and the construction of narratives.
For example, most discussions of the sixties at Cornell revolve around the Takeover, and most discussions of the Takeover are careful to place it gently in its era, the sixties. What Koselleck describes as the reciprocal explanation of events through structures, and vice versa, suggests that in order for an event to be properly historical, it must function as and through a kind of tautology. The historical event must symbolize its epoch, yet this epoch is nothing more than a series of historical events such as itself, accounted for and counted through their very likeness.
The structure of the epoch mimics that of the event. Events themselves, Koselleck reminds us, can only be recounted in a chronological manner to be made meaningful. In other words, the Takeover can only be significant when placed in relation to what happened before and after it, in terms of its causes and effects, and its place in the broader story of the sixties at Cornell, or the sixties in general.
Yet, the Takeover itself is only a series of occurrences that,. Put more succinctly, not only do events constitute narratives, narratives constitute events. What access do we have to an event after it has occurred? We have the empirical traces it left behind; perhaps we can see the infrastructural damage done to the Straight, the injuries sustained in the scuffle. We might have the guns, the pool cues that were turned into spears, and some stray tracts or mimeographed manifestos collected diligently by the archivist.
We might have a series of video or audio recordings, photographs from both inside and outside of the building, and the testimonies of the participants and direct observers. Finally, we might have a set of institutions that emerged from the event, a word in our vocabulary that had not previously existed, or some physical or discursive practice that had not been recognized as legitimate prior to the event.
As unassembled evidence, disaggregated from any unity of meaning, these traces are not recognizable as the event. These fragments still require narrativethe work of assembly, of re-construction, before they can even be recognized as pieces of the event. The narrative labor of assembling evidence, of accessing memory from ones own experience or others written accounts , or of telling the story, is what allows the eventas memoryto persist over time. As a consequence, symbolic interpretation is not just a part of the historical event, it is the historical event, in the sense that the event, and its many parts and parcels, only become legible through narrative.
How are the narratives of Cornell 69 structured? How does one event come to stand in for an entire narrative of events, a structure? How does the commonly remembered story of the Takeover relate to the story of the sixties in which it is embedded? In what ways do corrections of the historical record challenge this relationship? A June memo from the Cornell Office of Public Information recounts the findings of a survey undertaken at the request of the Universitys Board of Trustees to get at the causes of the April disorder.
The survey, which interviewed students as well as faculty, 30 administrators, alumni, and 20 trustees , found not a trouble-making minority of student activists, but rather a ground swell of unrest that reflected a malaise over still broader social problems in the country. According to the report, student sentiments had to do not only with the war, racial difficulties and their views on how the older generation handled social problems, but also with dissatisfaction regarding the educational process in general.
The combination of anger, militancy, frustration, and concern that characterized so many of us was more a reaction to historical forces that were beyond the university's control. Notably, this critique is not confined to retrospective analysis. Before the unrest of began, a article written in The Public Interest by recent Cornell graduate Nathan Tarcov described the shift in student sentiment.
The change in student ethos, Tarcov observed, ispartly the result of developments outside the university, chiefly the war and the national administration's conduct and account of it, the draft, especially the abolition of graduate deferments, and the racial crisis. Even granting a host of peripheral demands cannot remedy a pervasive discontent with the fundamental characteristics of education in the arts college.
The deep structural crisis in the middle of which Cornell found itself was thus widely acknowledged. Tarcov describes a tense and brewing political climate, in which New Leftists turned the Straight into a set for daily scenes of political confrontation and incitement. Political leaflets and tracts were produced and distributed on a regular basis, graffiti was scrawled across the campus walls, and the FBI had long been infiltrating and monitoring student groups. In one. However, instead of asking to simply be included in the predominantly white community, the AAS developed a separatist politics of autonomy and self-determination.
The AAS demanded their own institutions as a prerequisite to equality. Just as the older generation was mostly unawareand genuinely surprised to discoverthat a pervasive ground swell of discontent and disillusionment had radicalized a significant proportion of the student body, most white students were unaware of the extent to which a different sort of ground swellthe re-emergent influence of militant, black internationalismhad radicalized the members of AAS.
The staunch Western traditionalism and the racial politics behind itthat served as Cornells ideological faade and the full-scale arrival of assertive, Black Power politics within Cornells growing black community was a mix that proved combustible. Sewell calls structural dislocations. In language that could aptly describe the Takeover, he writes of the French Revolution in , and its effects on those living through it: the emotional tone of action can be an important sign of structural dislocation and rearticulation.
The more or less extended dislocation of structures that characterizes the temporality of the event is profoundly unsettling.
Cornell ’69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University
Meade concurred: By the fall of , Cornell was already being disrupted by the social and political climate of the country, including the civil rights movement and administrative changes such as affirmative action, Meade said. Despite the way the action would be framed in the coming weeks, the Takeover preceded the grievances with which it came to be associated.
The Daily Sun Supplement argues that, rather than being spontaneous, the Takeover had been in the planning stage for weeks, and that the judicial decision and cross burning had merely provided the justification for the AAS to proceed with an operation it had been preparing for a long time: Shortly after his election as AAS chairman in January, Ed Whitefield [sic] In a June, speech reviewing the takeover, Tom Jones To seize a vital building in the midst of the weekend when the University is about the job of trying to impress everybody so they can get some more contributions, was something that the University just couldn't ignore.
From the perspective of both the administration and campus radicals, Day Hall, the administration building, was always viewed as the most likely target for a. Day Hall represented the seat of power at Cornell. The Straight, on the other hand, was the focus point of student activities at Cornell and more relevant to the daily lives of students than almost any other building on campus. The AAS did not release demands until the afternoon.
According to an AAS graduate student heavily involved in the Takeover, the AAS's original intent was giving an emphatic warning to the campus to get off our backs President Perkins, who ostensibly knew about the disciplinary proceedings and the cross burning, and had been made aware of AAS member Tom Jones announcements on the radio, released an incredulous statement just a few hours after the takeover began labeling the action bothastonishing and regrettable. Rumors circulated about hundreds of armed whites preparing to re-take the Straight, which led to an additional shock: the introduction of guns.
In fact, AAS members had acquired their arms purchased on their behalf by members of SDS over a year earlier after they received anonymous threats while struggling for a black studies program. It was also to be part of history. Even during the 60s it was clear the 60s were The Sixties. Something was afoot in the world, and a piece of it was loose in Barton Hall. President Perkins when he resigned in the summer of , reflected: [Without the guns] it would have been just another building takeover, of which there were many at the time.
Over forty-five years later, what do the guns signify? In his Revolution in the Air, historian Max Elbaum summarizes the interpretation of the s that is now dominant within liberal and progressive circles, and especially within the academic left. That framework paints a picture of the good sixties turning into the bad sixties: supposedly the early s movements stand out as humane, sensible and worthy of emulation in contrast to the heartless, violence prone and irrational tendencies dominant after which are largely blamed for wrecking their more noble predecessors.
What happens when the popular narrative of the Takeover is at odds with the popular narrative of the sixties? A shift in the narrative of the Takeover necessitates a shift in its meaning, which in turn necessitates either the collapse of its power as a symbol, or a parallel shift of that which it is meant to symbolize. Once the Takeover begins to mean something else, in order for The Takeover to continue to symbolize the sixties, the sixties must, by definition, begin to mean something else as well.
In Elbaums figuration of the bad sixties, the gunswhen placed out of context become the perfect symbol for the times. They represent the excess of radicalism, the melodrama of militancy, and the violent absolutism of the era. They represent the turn to Black Power as a fall from grace. This narrative is exemplified in the introductory paragraph of Professor Cushing.
So some teachers and students occasionally speak nostalgically of the s. I suppose they are thinking of the good causesantiwar and racial equalitynot the arson, window-smashing, the building takeovers, or the denial of free speech to opponents. The causes were surely good. But by , protesting tactics had become intimidating and coercive of others; while the murder of Martin Luther King marked the emergence of a militant, separatist Black Nationalism as the ideological orthodoxy for any development of a black studies program.
These escalations split the Left, gave ammunition to the Right, and heightened tensions on campus. What would it mean for the guns to be placed in their proper context as a reaction to a threat? What would it mean to see the Takeover as a symbol of self-defense rather than coercion? In that context, the late sixties become a time of extraordinary white supremacist violence, especially as a reaction to demands for black self-determination. In Strouts narrative, the supposed turn to violence and irrationalitythe window-smashing, the building takeovers, or the denial of free speech to opponentsis identified primarily with the emergence of a militant, separatist Black Nationalism.
The moment at which the actionsand the political analysiscenter black students is the moment at which they are no longer seen as sympathetic. In the master narrative of the sixties, the Barton Hall Community, with its emphasis on discussion and idealism, not to mention its whiteness, would be an emblem of the good sixties.
However, unlike the good sixties in the master narrative, the Barton Hall Community occurred after the Takeover, after the turn to black nationalism, and after the introduction of guns. This alternative. When the story of the Takeover changes, so does the story of the sixties. The same can be said for the Takeovers place in the sequence of Cornell history; like its internal sequence, the Takeovers causes and effects are misremembered. A common perception also holds, Williams writes, that the Straight takeover was critical to the creation of the Africana Studies and Research Center, which in fact had already been scheduled to begin operation the following semester.
The other demands were more concerned with the occupation itself, investigating the cross burning, and ensuring the protection of black students on campus in the days to come. Williams reminds the reader that the Takeover did not necessarily mark the beginning of the diversification of the campuswhich was initiated several years earlier by the Committee on Special Education Projects COSEP , the minority recruitment programand also did not directly lead to the creation of the black program house, Ujamaa.
In a section entitled Impact on the University, Williams reiterates the point that the Takeover left comparatively few traces, and that many question its status as a historical event at all. Unlike Jackson State or Kent State, no one died; unlike the urban riots that were rocking the country, hardly any property was destroyed; and unlike the unrest at Columbia University, no police came on campus, and no one.
A few professors got upset, and a smaller number resigned, but on the whole, not much happened besides the appearance of guns. The takeover and the events that surround it are portrayed in every variant of narrative as a, if not the, decisive moment in modern Cornell history, the moment that changed everything. In many abbreviated histories of Cornell 69, including Williams article, declarations of the supreme significance of the Takeover are often made immediately before a seemingly inevitable reminder that, in fact, the Takeover changed very little.
Similar claims are often made that the Barton Hall Community, and its institutional offspring, the Constituent Assembly, led to the restructuring of the university. Now, the Faculty has monopoly dictatorship power with the board of trustees. What did they do? You have the power to recommend. People have always had the power to recommend. Thats why you dont see us jumping up and down about this Constituent Assembly thing, Jones explained. According to the Statement of the Committee on Mass Media, after the faculty decided to nullify, Tom Jones then took the microphone to say, I was right in what I said because the old Cornell died at 9 o'clock last night when 6, of you stood up for black people.
The old order. If the faculty surrendered to anyone, it did so to the students in Barton Hall who numbered around nine thousand by conservative estimates at noon on Wednesday. As Tom Jones of the AAS stated, the decision to grant the black demands was not made by the faculty; it was made by those students in Barton Hall. Cornell 69 somehow represented structural change, but caused none itself.
The Takeover created what had already existed, and the Barton Hall Community changed everything before it changed nothing. The new order and the old order were out of order; they weaved among themselves until the world had been turned on its head and then restored to its original state: a full revolution. The Event as Symbol If historical narratives themselves depend on a series of events, which are in turn causally and sequentially related to each other, the Takeover presents an especially challenging case.
The Takeover, notably, occurred after the structural change with which it came to be associated. The irony is that the Takeovers repeated failure to signify accuratelyto represent itself and only itselfis precisely what entrenches it so deeply into public memory. In other words, the Takeover persists not despite the fact it is misremembered, but precisely because it is misremembered.
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The common misperceptions recounted by Williamsthat it was an armed takeover, rather than a nonviolent takeover that escalated to an armed standoff, or that it resulted. They obstruct the memory in that they cloud the memory with inaccuracies; yet, they make the memory possible in the sense that the inaccuracies allow the Takeover to stand in as an event of its time, to symbolize the modern history of not just Cornell, but of the the sixties in general.
The Takeover has persisted as a historical event not only because it changed things, or because it constituted a historical rupture, but because it became symbolic of, or came to signify, that change and rupture. That is why the structural changethe creation of the Africana Centercould have happened before it was made visible by the Takeover. In some sense, the rupture of the Takeover is unthinkable without the structural dislocations that preceded it, from the sudden influx of working class students of color at a predominantly white and elite institution, to the national and international context of war and Third World anti-colonialist movements.
In this sense, whether or not the Takeover directly caused the rupture is irrelevant; the Takeover was the rupture insofar as it staged and performed it. The Takeover signaled that formerly dominant ideologies were changing, bursting, or falling apart, and formerly uncontested structures were being challenged. In some sense, the event can be said to have elevated into the status of historical event when it takes on this double meaning, standing in both for itself a series of occurrences and the structural changes that underlie it.
Recurrence It may well be many more anniversaries before Cornell submerges the scars of the bitter spring of The University had more than three hours to live, it turned out, but those terrible days so wounded us that as we attempt to confront Cornell's present era of transition, we are, in Fitzgerald's words, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
As a symbol, the Takeover appears as an ambiguous image. In the Pulitzer Prizewinning photograph by Steve Starr, there are black students with guns and bandoliers, walking triumphantly out of a building in loose formation, surprisingly calm and casual. Yet equally prominent in the photograph is the Welcome Parents sign on the building, evoking a gentle status quo that had been violently woken from its sleep at five oclock in the morning, and would never quite recover. Like the event itself, the image is a site of contested meaning, standing in either for the crisis of the liberal university,49 a moment that galvanized black people all over this nation, 50 or the beginnings of the political correctness regime.
Cornells now yearly observance of the Takeover in late April is an unearthing of both Cornell 69 and the era that it symbolizes. But in every commemoration, there is the hope, or the fear, that the Takeover will return someday. The anniversary, in particular, sets a stage on which to dramatize the interplay of occurrence and recurrence that defines historical rituals of remembrance. In , the Daily Sun wrote, American blacks are returning to the spirit of activism they embraced in the late s, gradually propelling the country into the midst of a social revolution, according to Cleveland Donald, who helped take the Straight as a graduate student 20 years ago.
History is coming back to the s, the veteran activist said. Im seeing a return to where we should have been 10 or 15 years ago. For many unsympathetic accounts, especially those written for the thirtieth anniversary, the Takeover lives on as stifling political correctness or as the seeds of multiculturalism. Daniel J. Silver, for example, writing a review of Donald Downs book Cornell 69 in , concludes by.
For many sympathetic accounts, the Takeover is relevant either because there is activism going on, or because there is no activism going on. James Turner, the longtime Director of the Africana Center, argues that the Takeover is relevant precisely because students do not remember it: This young generation has not been educated to the history of 20 years ago. Thats still the great problem we have.
The inability of us to formalize and institutionalize the knowledge of our experience so it can be passed on to the next generation. And because of the absence of this knowledge, many of these young people dont see that they have any responsibility to continue the struggle for freedom and justice. They are the byproducts of the benefits of that struggle. Prior to that, everyone understood in the black community that they were experiencing conditions of objective racial oppression as a result of segregation.
Today, these young people dont experience that. They think its up to them individually They have acquired materialism. Williams, however, sees the legacy of the Takeover as a living protagonist. Towards the end of his article, Williams argues that the Takeover created a chain of solidarity that is continually reforged by black students in times of real or perceived threat. The old activist days fondly recalled by many something alumni have never ended for Cornell's minority community.
Virtually every generation of blackand now Latino students for the past 25 years can point to a time of crisis and conflict: COSEP reorganization in the 70s, South African investments in the 80s, financial aid and the Hispanic American Studies Program in the 90s and several intermediate skirmishes. And behind all of them looms the legend of the Straight, inspiring, motivating, and empowering When [minority students] encounter resistance, whether that comes from paranoia or practiced patience on the part of the university, their frustration rises to a sense of urgency.
And that urgency compels them to clutch at the symbolism of the past for reassurance that progress can be made. The Takeover is a story that is impossibly and inevitably reproduced, slipping through the gaps of the new generation of individualistic Cornellians, yet maintained through structurally induced. For both Williams and Turner, the Takeover is a necessary history because it both created the Cornell in which students live and helps them continue the fight to survive there.
Ironically, the fact that the Takeover did not change everything once and for all, that it did not eliminate institutional racism permanently from Cornell, has ensured that it will live on as long as that fight continues. In his conclusion, Williams alludes to the eternal relevance of the Takeover in the minds of students of color: The students keep it alive, says one minority administrator of the Straight takeover.
They will never let that legacy die. Not, at least, until they are able to believe that taking over a building will no longer be necessary, because they have truly occupied the university itself. The opening sentences frame the Takeover, primarily, as a memory: Nothing could have been a more vivid reminder of April Three days before Thanksgiving last fall, hundreds of mostly Latino and African-American students gathered outside a barricaded Day Hall waving signs, chanting slogans, eventually even sitting down in the street to block traffic at the intersection of Tower Road and East Avenue.
Having arrived on campus just months after the Takeover, Williams own intimate distance to the events allows his writing to pursue them in experiential termsnot as they actually happened, or in some representation of their essential meaning, but as the events were felt and perceived, at the time and since. Williams piece is crucial because it reveals that the central problems of popular memory are also what allow such recollections to exist and be relevant. The pasts refusal to be confined to itself both means that it is free to live among us and that this past is a perpetual fugitive in our.
The paradox of popular memorythe traditions and stories that constitute us culturallylies in historys continual resurrection, and the erasure, transmutation, and reproduction of its various narrative forms. Eagerly, Williams tracks down the story of the Takeover twenty five years later as if it were simply another participantas if the embodied event could be found with a steady job in the suburbs, or living a humble existence on a farm somewhere outside of Ithaca, or had taken an Endowed Chair position at the University.
The Takeover reappeared, alternately as terrible apparition and inspirational precedent, in nearly every major conflict that succeeds April of Williams pushes us to see Cornell 69 not only as a historical drama, but as a ghostly character in its own right, a living allusion. When stripped of the journalistic aura of empiricism, it becomes clear that his article is, if anything, a profile of a historical shadow cast over the present: More than any other single public event, the Straight takeover symbolizes the modern history of Cornell. It clings to us like a shadow.
In the panoply of interpretations that cling to and inhabit the shadow of the Takeover, one can find the ripples of the process by which the event becomes a historical event, and by which a historical event itself becomes a structure. These interpretations are not simply readingsthey are narratives unto themselves that require reading. These narratives both facilitate the events development into a structure, and also mimic the event and structures relationship. Just as Cornell 69 made visible, audible, and tangible the structural crisis that had already pushed Cornell to the brink, as Dancis describes it, these storiesassemblages of evidence and memorymake Cornell 69 visible, audible, and tangible.
Chapter 2 Reproduction "It happened five years ago today. Over black students seized Willard Straight Hall in the early morning hours, rudely ousting frightened parents staying in the union's guest rooms for what turned into Cornell's last Parents' Weekend. The Cornell Daily Sun, "Ten years ago today, shortly after a. The Cornell Daily Sun, Shortly before 6 a. The Cornell Daily Sun, Nearly every time the Cornell Daily Sun has written an abbreviated chronology of the Takeover, the narrative has introduced itself with the same image. The image of angry black students awakening the parents of Cornell studentsas well as innocent employeesclearly anticipates the fear and outrage of the reader, traumatized by the black students audacity in disturbing whiteness at its most vulnerable and respectable asleep or working.
The image taps. Notably, the imagery that begins the capitulation narrative, destined to be echoed throughout the following decades by Sun retrospectives, does not originate from the Daily Sun itself. While Cornells newspaper did include an article about the parents ejection from the Straight, their above-the-fold coverage focused primarily on the responses of both Students for a Democratic Society SDS and the Perkins Administration. Instead, the image, the syntax, and the set of facts included in succession, seems to come from the April 20th New York Times front page: About black students at Cornell University staged a surprise raid on the student union building at dawn today.
The invaders ordered the parents, and about 40 university employes [sic], to leave the building. What explains the persistence of this short paragraph? Admittedly, much of this paragraphs persistence can be attributed to convenience: editors of the Sun, looking for a concise, accessible history of the Takeover for a commemorative supplement, had to look no further than their own archives for a model. At times, editors acknowledged this practice explicitly. For example, the Sequence of Events described in the Supplement includes the footnote: This timeline was compiledfrom Sun editions at the.
In , the author wrote, Below is a brief history of the events that led to and followed the takeover, based off of the reporting done in a comprehensive Sun supplement published on the 10th anniversary of the Straight Takeover. What makes The Times account more useful or attractive for an editor writing in ? In part, this might be explained by the changing political climate, which Robert D. Cornell eventually established a research forest south of Ithaca, the Arnot Woods.
In , the US Department of Agriculture began to fund cooperative extension services through the land-grant college of each state, and Cornell expanded its impact by sending agents to spread knowledge in each county of New York State. Although Syracuse had started awarding forestry degrees at this point, Cornell's extension agents covered all of home economics and agriculture, including forestry. Since agricultural interests were mostly affiliated with the Republicans, Cornell enjoyed bi-partisan support following World War II.
Cornell's four statutory colleges agriculture, human ecology, labor relations and veterinary medicine have been affiliated with SUNY since its inception, but did not have any such state affiliation prior to that time. Today, state support is significant. Starting in , Cornell's Ithaca campus offered a pre-medical school curriculum, although most medical students enrolled in medical school directly after high school.
Unfortunately, NYU imposed a number of surprising new policies including limiting faculty to what they would have otherwise earned in private practice. The building opened in That same year, the college became affiliated with New York Hospital and the two institutions moved to their current joint campus in The hospital's Training School for Nurses became affiliated with the university in , operating as the Cornell Nursing School until it closed in The combined institution operates today as NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Despite the clinical alliance, the faculty and instructional functions of the Cornell and Columbia units remain distinct and independent. Multiple fellowships and clinical programs have merged, however, and the institutions are continuing in their efforts to bring together departments, which could enhance academic efforts, reduce costs, and increase public recognition. All hospitals in the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System are affiliated with one of the two colleges.
Also in , the medical college was renamed as Weill Medical College of Cornell University after receiving a substantial endowment from Sanford I. Weill , then Chairman of Citigroup. As a part of its tax planning in the wake of the war effort, Curtiss-Wright donated the facility to Cornell University to operate "as a public trust" and received a charitable tax deduction.
CAL invented the first crash test dummy in , the automotive seat belt in , the first mobile field unit with Doppler weather radar for weather-tracking in , the first accurate airborne simulation of another aircraft the North American X in , the first successful demonstration of an automatic terrain-following radar system in , the first use of a laser beam to successfully measure gas density in , the first independent HYGE sled test facility to evaluate automotive restraint systems in , the mytron , an instrument for research on neuromuscular behavior and disorders in , and the prototype for the Federal Bureau of Investigation 's fingerprint reading system in CAL served as an "honest broker" making objective comparisons of competing plans to build military hardware.
During the late s and early s, universities came under criticism for conducting war-related research particularly as the Vietnam War became unpopular, and Cornell University tried to sever its ties. In May , New York's highest court ruled that Cornell had the right to sell the lab. Cornell had enrolled African-American students by the mids. On April 19, , during a parents' weekend, over 80 members of Cornell's Afro-American Society took over the student union building, Willard Straight Hall.
The takeover was precipitated by increasing racial tension at the university and the students' frustration with the administration's lack of support for a black studies program. The specific catalysts for the takeover were a reprimand of three black students for an incident the previous December  and a cross burning in front of the black women's cooperative and other cases of racism. By the following day a deal was brokered between the students and university officials, and on April 20, the takeover ended, with the administration ceding to some of the Afro-American Society's demands.
The students emerged making a black-power salute and with guns in hand the guns had been brought into Willard Straight Hall after the initial takeover. James A. Perkins , president of Cornell during the events, resigned soon after the crisis. Some of the elements of the deal required faculty approval, and the faculty voted to uphold the reprimands of the three students on April Among the changes stemming from the crisis were the founding of an Africana Studies and Research Center , overhaul of the campus governance and judicial system, and the addition of students to Cornell's Board of Trustees.
The crisis also prompted New York to enact the Henderson Law requiring every college in the State to adopt rules for the maintenance of public order. Yale Professor Donald Kagan , at Cornell through —69 was once a liberal democrat , but he changed his views in and became one of the original signers to the Statement of Principles by the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century.
Historically, Cornell's colleges have operated with great autonomy, each with a separate admissions policy, separate faculty, separate fundraising staff and in many cases, separate tuition structure. However, the University has taken steps to encourage collaboration between related academic fields within the University and with outside organizations.
In the s, the University created a Division of Biological Sciences to unify related programs in the Art and Agriculture colleges. Although a success, the structure was ultimately dropped in due to difficulty with funding. A "Faculty of Computing and Information Science" was established in to unify computer science efforts throughout the University.
This structure obviates the need for a separate school or college of computer science. For its first ten years, Robert Constable served as its dean. Since the s, tuition at Cornell and other Ivy League schools has grown much faster than inflation. This trend coincided with the creation of Federally guaranteed student loan programs. At the same time, the endowments of these schools continue to grow due to gifts and successful investments. Critics called for universities to keep their tuition at affordable levels and to not hoard endowment earnings. Students and faculty have chronicled Cornell in works of fiction.
The most notable was The Widening Stain which first appeared anonymously. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Weill Cornell Medical College. Main article: Calspan. Becker, Carl L. Cornell University: Founders and the Founding. Cornell University Press. Bishop, Morris A History of Cornell 1st ed. Altschuler, Glenn; Kramnick, Isaac Cornell: A History, 1st ed. Cornell: Glorious to View 1st ed. Downs, Donald Alexander Cornell ' Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University 1st ed. Rudolph, Frederick Curriculum: a history of the American undergraduate course of study since 1st ed.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. American College and University: A History 2nd ed. University of Georgia Press. White, Andrew Dickson The Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White. Available online: Vol. Cornell University official site. Cornell University: Founders and Founding. Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White — Volume 1. Retrieved January 24, Autumn History of Education Quarterly.
Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York. Retrieved March 7, New York Times. July 11, See also Section 5 of the Cornell charter. Cornell University:Founders and Founding. Cornell University. Retrieved December 27, Retrieved February 26, Harvard University. Retrieved March 15, The creation of the future: the role of the American university. Retrieved February 21, Retrieved November 28, Cornell Daily Sun.
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