Nearly everyone who has tried to account for the recent uprising on the Berkeley campus has drawn a picture of students struggling for identity in a vast, impersonal educational and research factory run by IBM cards, remote professors subsidized by federal funds, and administrators with the temperaments of corporation executives. This analysis has the curious effect of making University of California President Clark Kerr the prophet of the student revolution against his administration. Kerr’s description of the bureaucratized “multiversity,” set forth in his Godkin lectures at Harvard in 1963, has even been converted into an ideology of justification for the revolt by its leadership.
There is more than a grain of truth in this account. The students were waging war against absurdities and hypocrisies that seem endemic to modern bureaucracy. And no doubt some form of pervasive alienation drove numerous students into the fray. But however plausible it may be, t...
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