Lessons From Other Campus Protests

The year was 1966 and Ronald Reagan was running for governor of California. A major part of his platform was to “clean up the mess at Berkeley” and other college campuses throughout the state that were experiencing protests and strikes over issues that included the military draft, civil rights and “women’s issues.” While not on a scale of the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, anti-America and Jewish hatred we are witnessing now on several college campuses, Reagan’s response could instruct current college presidents and admissions officers to quell the unrest.


The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has preserved Reagan’s remarks and later actions as governor. In a campaign speech, Reagan said many leftist campus movements had transcended legitimate protest, with the actions of “beatniks, radicals and filthy speech advocates” having more to do “with rioting, with anarchy” than “academic freedom.” He faulted university administrators and faculty, who “press their particular value judgments” on students, for “a leadership gap and a morality and decency gap” on campus, and suggested a code of conduct be imposed on faculty to “force them to serve as examples of good behavior and decency.”

Morality, good behavior and decency appear to be electives, not requirements, on

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