Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois on May 16, 1973 · Page 31
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Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois · Page 31

Galesburg, Illinois
Issue Date:
Wednesday, May 16, 1973
Page 31
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Page 31 article text (OCR)

Ggtesbura Register-Moil, Golesburg, III. Wednesdoy> May 16 J 973 If . Hayakawa Reflects Riots Gave Wo By MURRAY OLDERMAN SAN FRANCISCO (NKA)With the ottktal retirement next month of Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa, Ph .D., D.LItt., LL.D., a phi* of American education pities. Not even fiye yean ago, S. I. Hayakawa was deep in the bowers of Mademe, a renowned semahtlcist of limited fame. Theft, with a plaid tarn o' shanter on his round head, he mounted a sound truck which symbolized the core of student rebellion at San Francisco, State University and stridently ripped out the wires. HE HIMSELF became the symbol of backlash to the disruption of tho academic system by student and faculty dissenters, and eventually the restoration of authority. It wasn't easy. Twice the police of Mill Valley, the sylvan community where he lives, rousted him out of his home because of personal threats. Doc Hayakawa had to pay the motel bills himself for those nights. The California Highway Patrol and the San Francisco Police Department escorted him to the campus on the southwest edge of the city, within View of the ocean, where he was elevated to the post of university president in November, 1968. But Hayakawa's firmness —some said repressiveness— prevailed. The student-faculty strike which rent the campus in the winter of 1987-68, when many of America's colleges course in African history by a white professor who was the only one competent to do so here. If white students had tried to prevent a black professor teaching an English course because he couldn't understand the soul of a beautiful white poet like Chaucer, we'd have thrown them out for racism right away. But because they're black we condone it. "So I say the whole thing was racist. Also elitist and arrogant because they knew what was right and wrong." Why did it occur specifically at that time? "IT WAS A product of affluence, a generation brought up to believe supremely in its own opinions. They were led by people without serious career or vocational commitments. They didn't come out of business administration or engineering. They came out of liberal arts and social science. "It was true at Harvard,' Berkeley and Columbia. And here. Many of them, I think, were simply draft evaders." Was his firmness responsible for quelling the unrest? "I think so. I saw no other solution. College teachers and professors, me included, are all pretty nice guys. We try to understand.our students. Even if they display irrationality, we try to reason with them. "I THINK AN administrator's task is different. He has to maintain conditions under which education can be continued. I had to suspend my "1/ someone is coming at you with a bayonet charge, you don't commit psychotherapy on the guy. You defend yourself" were enflamcd, sputtered to oblivion. SO NOW, fewer than five years later, he sits in his office from whiqh he controls 22,000 students, backdropped by a wall which reflects his passionate interest in Oriental and, African art. He is, a small, Kinetic man, who can't sit still for long, but he takes time for unabashed reflection. "The student uproar here," he reviews, "was extremely racist and extremely arrogant. Black students would protest the teaching of a ordinary teacherly functions of trying to understand unreasonable howling mobs. "I just had to call in the cops to restore the kind of order under which the majority of students could go back to class." Some bitterness still lingers : among • faculty and ..students Who have branded him a stooge of Gov. Ronald Reagan (who applauded Hayakawa). They deplore his authoritarianism. "So much of my fan mail," retorts Hayakawa, "came from people who had never s. i. Hayakawa .. . retirement reflections been to college themselves, sometimes badly misspelled, ungrammatical, letters saying, 'I never got past fifth grade and can't understand kids trying to tear up the pjace.'" Were there any benefits to the educational process from the student commotions? "No. No benefits whatsoever. There was disruption of peoples' education, destruction of academic standards, the introduction of a lot of contentless courses, so-called 'relevant.' For a couple of years, black studies, for.ex­ ample, were simply staging grounds' for revolutionary pro- * paganda." DURING THE five years since he became president of the university has he been able to .pursue his own scholarly interests? "Nothing., Of course, I re-, fleeted on these events. So mafty faculty, particularly in the Ivy League colleges, have t this liberal sympathy for the underdog. No one surveyed the Negfo masses to find out if the Black Panthers really represented what they wanted! They just took the Panthers' or the Black Students Union's word for it arid white liberals supported them, like Kingman Brewster of Yale. "I myself know something about Negro masses, having worked for a Negro newspaper (the Ghicagb Defender) ' aftd-having spent miiea of my sdult life within the Negro community. I knew the Black Panthers didn't stand for any large constituency and there* fore f could take a stand against them. I was called every kind of damn racist, of course." DID HE COME out of this Whole experience with a good feeling? "It's Men good for me. Lot of telf-inslfht, lot of confirmation of basic beliefs. I was 92 years old When I got Into this. I wasn't a kid. I knew what the hell I wanted to do, what my values were. I am a teacher of semantics. I am a licensed psychologist in > the state of California. I believe in' therapeutic communication and still do. I also understand there are limits. In the heat of battle, if someone is coming at you with a bayonet charge, you don 't commit psychotherapy on the guy. You defend yourself. "THE ERROR of most people in administration was trying to achieve therapeutic communication where it was totally inappropriate. The history of the triumph of Nazi- ism in Europe is a perfect example of what happens and this was in the back of my mind. Especially when I watched Berkeley go to hell in 1964." . Hayakawa's work in semantics, manifested publicly with his best-selling,, book, "language in Action" in 1941, stemmed from a study of the word tactics of Nazilsm. Now he has been asked to write a book on his adventures as a university president and intends to do so in retirement. Will he miss the excite* ment? "There hasn't been any for . a. few years," he says, -and shrugs. President Richard Nixon's phone call to the Apollo astronauts on the moon, Vuly 20, 1969, was called by him the j greatest long-distance call: in history. 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