Wonder Woman of the Web: Tiffany Shlain

Shlain at work, courtesy of BrainWorld

Tiffany Shlain is, even by UC Berkeley standards, an amazingly accomplished woman. Her list of accomplishments is one that would seem to give even the famous “most interesting man in the world” from the Dos Equis commercials a run for his money.

Impressively, Shlain’s successes began long before she even set foot in Berkeley. Like many high school students today, Shlain was given a Mac by her parents to use for school. The only problem was that the year was 1984 and the internet was barely in its infancy. Computers connected to various databases via a modem. As a high school junior, Shlain co-wrote a paper with a high school friend that predicted the use of the personal computer as a tool for connection and peace for students in enemy countries called UNITAS (Uniting Nations in Telecommunications & Software). It is notable that though Shlain’s parents were from Soviet Union, her co-author was from Iran- two countries not on the best of diplomatic terms at the time. The two sent their paper to Barbra Boxer, which lead to an opportunity for Shlain to tour the Soviet Union as a student ambassador, and to talk about the idea of computers as a tool for connection and peace across cultures.

Shlain would later go on to attend Berkeley in 1988 as a student enrolled in interdisciplinary studies focusing on film theory. Over the course of her studies, Shlain managed to cover everything from anthropology to forestry to film.  Shlain describes today’s interdisciplinary process as being quite different than it was back then, saying, “Now there are a lot of interdisciplinary ventures, but back then you had to get professors to sign off on it while you were responsible for creating [the curriculum] yourself.”

Reflecting back on her experience at Berkeley, Shlain stated that what she loved most about Berkeley was the “range of classes [I] was able to take with such brilliant professors.” But while she was enamored with the multitudes of resources and wonderful professors that Berkeley had to offer, it was paradoxically the lack of resources in one area that pushed her to become the award winning filmmaker she is today.

“There was no film production there at the time, so I actually studied at the summer film program at NYU and came back to Berkeley to teach a DeCal class in film production.” Film resources were so scarce at the time that Shlain had to borrow editing tools from the City Planning Department. 

While at Berkeley, Shlain would create a short film entitled “Hunter and Pandora”, and in doing so won the Eisner award, Berkeley’s most prestigious award for filmmaking. Shlain would also later go on to be nominated for an Emmy for her AOL documentary, “The Future Starts Here”.

Shlain graduated from UC Berkeley in 1992 and served as the valedictorian speaker for her graduating class.  While that experience was momentous, she was later invited back to Cal as a commencement speaker in 2010, an experience that she calls “one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.”

Before the speech, Shlain described herself as feeling anxious and nervous. She was due to give the speech at a time when she had just lost her father after turning 40. “Life was holding me by the shoulders” she said,  “and asking me what have you learned that you can share with the next generation. I worked so hard on the speech and was still so nervous.”  On the day of the speech, Shlain outperformed herself, urging graduates to have “moxie” (the ability to have courage and determination) and to follow a path of interdependence. Shlain’s commencement speech would later go on to be listed as one of NPR’s greatest commencement speeches of all time, a feat that she is especially proud of considering the very small number of women on the list. 

Tiffany Shlain, courtesy of Engadget

Shlain’s films are nuanced and contain an artistic flair and vivacity that sets her apart from other directors. Documentaries (some of which have taken as long as 5 years to make) famously feature short montages with hundreds, even thousands, of different images. Most of her films deal with the rise of technology and the way in which humans have learned to deal with such an interconnected world. Shlain states that she draws inspiration from everything she encounters, and that every new experience is another color on the palette with which she can paint her films.

When asked about her style, Shlain talked about her love for avant-garde filmmaking and how her style, “came out of necessity where I couldn’t shoot original stuff. I would find great archival footage and great stock footage and create original animations with my animators which I loved doing. There are so many images that we created in our culture that have just become a palate for me when I’m making a film.”

Though Shlain is known for being one of the early pioneers of the web, she is wary of the dangers of being too connected. Over the past five years her family has practiced what is known as a “Technology Shabbat” in which they disconnect themselves from technology and electronic devices for 24 hours, relying instead on an old landline phone for emergencies. When asked about why she does this, Shlain remarked, “It’s a strong gut feeling that we’re on it too much. And I think everyone, if they talked about it, would agree. We’ve been doing Technology Shabbats for five years solid, and it grounds me in a way that I can’t even really describe. I love technology. I get to re-appreciate it every Saturday night. I go off it on Friday and I feel totally at peace and I feel like I’m using my mind in a different way, and that I’m present in a very deep way.”

Currently Shlain splits her time between being a mother, making films, and her charity Let it Ripple, which aims to use mobile videos to help promote global change. Last year Let it Ripple held a Character Day in which 1,500 schools discussed the idea of character development. For this year’s Character Day, Shlain hopes to hit 3,000 schools, an ambitious feat, but one which definitely seems achievable given Shlain’s impressive history. When asked if she had any advice to impart to Berkeley students, her advice was simple- “to take as many classes as possible from as many different professors as you can.”  And considering the fact that Shlain would add these experiences to her palette of knowledge and later use it to color and brighten the world, it seems advice well worth heeding.

Get This Show on the Code: A Conversation with TiVo Pro Margret Schmidt

Margret Schmidt (Courtesy of her website)

Margret Schmidt (Courtesy of her website)

Margret Schmidt is a wealth of good business advice…as one would expect from the Chief Design Officer and Vice President of Design & Engineering at TiVo, a company which continues to change the TV landscape. A focused, confident, Emmy-winning television powerhouse, Schmidt is a strong advocate of pursuing what excites you and makes the scary, hard process of following what you love seem like the obvious and natural product of passion and clear communication.

“You have to find what really excites you,” she told Insight at Berkeley over the phone, “Your job is going to become so much of your life. You want to wake up every morning going, ‘This is going to be fun and challenging!’ You don’t want something boring.”

Schmidt did not have a typical college experience. She transferred to Berkeley from Harvey Mudd College and commuted to campus from the peninsula, taking the BART each day to get to her classes. She was nineteen and a half and was already married – still is. “I lucked out!” she told us happily. She didn’t spend a confused semester questioning her course of studies and didn’t have time to get involved in campus life. She organized her schedule so she would only have to spend a few days out of the week at Berkeley, taking back-to-back classes, and in 1992 she graduated with a B.S. in EECS after two and a half years.

Her favorite class was E110, a Venture Design class which required groups to write a business plan and present their idea in a final presentation. “I liked that because it felt more real world,” she told us. Schmidt admits that what a college education often lacks is the development of communication skills, noting that these “softer skills” are incredibly important in determining success in the workplace. She maintains that it is important to know how to do something technically, but equally important to have a good attitude and to communicate well in order to make connections.

Schmidt credits her interest in technology and engineering to early exposure. In elementary school she took an after-school class in Logo, an old programming language geared at kids. When she was growing up, her father had an Atari 400, an old gaming system, which he liked to do some coding on. Schmidt also used her dad’s Apple Lisa, an early Mac predecessor, to do her school reports, which always looked better than everyone else’s in the 7th grade. In middle school, she wrote her own Choose Your Own Adventure story on an Apple Two. It was these early “bits and pieces” which helped build up her confidence and interest in coding, something Schmidt notes is important for young women entering the male-dominated field of technology.

An Apple II, the kind of computer Margret coded on as a kid

An Apple II, the kind of computer Margret coded on as a kid (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

  After college, Schmidt made the surprising decision to become a real estate broker for reasons she can’t quite explain. She liked the independence and there was a tech aspect to it, with frequent interactions with Silicon Valley engineers, but it wasn’t really what she wanted to do. Schmidt moved on to jobs more firmly on the technological side of home selling until her company was forced to downsize in the wake of the collapse of the dot com bubble and she found herself in need  of a job. Schmidt found the TiVo position online, attracted to it because she was a fan of their product and because it was straight technology, no real estate frills. In 2001, she landed a job as UI (User Interface) Manager and found herself doing what she was truly passionate about – design.

 To people afraid to take the leap and do what they truly want rather than what is stable, Schmidt points out that “if you’re in a place where you aren’t enjoying [what you’re doing], then it shouldn’t be scary because you don’t even like where you are right now.”

 She also stresses the importance of networking, and in particular, of finding ‘sponsors’. Schmidt makes the distinction between mentors and sponsors, mentors being people who give you advice and talk it out and sponsors being people in higher positions who open doors for you. Both are important, but it’s these sponsors—people who see your potential and give you a chance—that are going to be the most valuable.

Her common sense advice and incredible success makes confidence and assertiveness sound easy, but she admits that the doubt never goes away and that she had to “build it up over the years.” The key is to realize that everyone doubts themselves, that nobody knows everything, but that you have to speak up because your specific perspective is valuable- especially a woman’s perspective in what is too often a man’s field.

Schmidt with all of Tivos Emmys (Courtesy of Twitter)

Schmidt with all of TiVo’s Emmys (Courtesy of her Twitter)

“If there’s one thing I could have done again, I would go down the red carpet.”

In 2006, Schmidt and her TiVo team won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television. The Creative Arts Emmys, awards in technical and behind-the-scenes categories, take place a week before the Primetime show in the same venue and Schmidt went all out- hair, make-up, gown, and limo. They didn’t walk down the red carpet, opting for the paparazzi-less back path, but Schmidt and her team got a little bolder later at the Governor’s Ball after party, approaching celebrities for pictures who would in turn exclaim, “I love TiVo!” Schmidt says she never expected herself, a self-professed “nerd-girl” to win an Emmy but here she is, hard earned Emmy- which she says has always made a mysterious rattling noise- sitting on her dining room cabinet.

When asked for parting advice, Schmidt spoke passionately about the dynamic and fulfilling nature of product creation – of making something beautiful and new that truly delights someone– and said that there is no better place for participating in that future than Berkeley and the Bay Area. “At the end of the day,” she says, “what we’re trying to do is put something wonderful out in the world that makes people go “wow this makes my life so much easier. I love this.”

EnDowd with skill: From Cal to Hashtags

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Katie Dowd – Journalist and Sports Producer, SF Gate

Young Katie Dowd grinned at The Daily Californian article in front of her. Her father was an ardent sports fan. She went to every Cal game with him, and would afterwards go home and curl up with the latest issue of The Daily Cal.

Some years down the line, Dowd was living the dream. She went to UC Berkeley and worked for The Daily Cal, with whom she covered…you guessed it right, sports! A few years later, she went on to become the News and Sports Producer for SF Gate, the online version of The Chronicle. The Chronicle‘s aim is to provide its readers with a slice of San Francisco, and Dowd has hit a home run. From Football, to Basketball, to Baseball, she has covered it all. In addition, she markets articles, and manages the entire sports section, all while making sure her young readers stay engaged — which, with 22 million readers per month, is a task that requires much dexterity.

Talking about her skills as a journalist, Dowd says, “I always try to make historical connections, and [not] be afraid to do the quirky thing.” She attributes her success to her ability to create and follow-through with ideas. Mark Gobel, her favorite English professor at Cal, helped her learn this. Dowd talks about Professor Gobel’s “eccentric”, yet very relevant classes. Looking back, she remembers a particular class where he played a clip of an Episode from Hoarders, “that TLC Show about people who excessively want things”. On screen, Gobel showed Lindsay Lohan cradling her shoes, and then proceeded to explain how it related to their reading for that day – a book written in the 1800’s, in which one of the main characters was a hoarder. Dowd loved how he explained this timeless issue in such an interesting manner.

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Professor Goble. Perhaps he will inspire your dreams, too?

Professor Goble taught Dowd another valuable lesson. He was her go-to Professor when she decided to start a DeCal, with her roommate, on the Batman TV Show. They created a full syllabus, and then approached Professor Goble who was very enthusiastic. He said, “Let’s do this.” They were able to teach the DeCal with him as their advisor. Dowd was very humbled, for here was this very learned man, exceptionally smart and equally busy, valuing her ideas. This taught Dowd that “ideas are always relevant,” a lesson which was also useful for her job.  Her favorite article to have written so far is an interview with the fans at a Cal game she pushed her boss to let her cover. “Don’t be afraid to pitch something crazy! Your ideas matter.” says Dowd.

When it comes to her job, Dowd had quite a quirky beginning. “The story I always tell,” says Dowd, “is that I got my job through Twitter.”

Dowd followed Kate Scott (The first female micperson at Cal), who read Dowd’s articles because she (Scott) was an ardent Cal fan. Dowd covered sports with the The Daily Cal at the time. Scott liked her work, messaged Dowd on Twitter, saying she had a friend who was hiring at The Chronicle, and asked her if she was interested. So Dowd did the interview, got the job, and that is how she wound up at The Chronicle!

One of Dowd’s quirky, yet ever informative articles. Click the picture to check out more of her work.

 

“If you write things, you should always share them on [social media] because you never know who’s reading them,” councils Dowd. On the job, she says the readership of hardcopy print newspapers is declining, while mobile and web services are booming. For small, upcoming publications like Insight that don’t have the “NY Times” brand stamp, the playing field is fast being levelled, says Dowd. “It’s no longer something you read by the New York Times. It’s a link you clicked on Facebook,” she says.

As parting advice for students, Dowd says she did not know how to spend her free time once she graduated. “In school,” she says, “there was always the next task to do – the next essay to write, the next problem set to complete, but at work, you do your job from 9am-5pm, and then you’re free.” Unaccustomed to this freedom, Dowd overloaded herself with more work, which was “not the best idea.” She slowly learned to develop her hobbies like reading (for leisure, and not for an essay for a change), and traveling. Dowd says even if you love your work, that’s not enough. You should take time out to develop your interests, live in a place you like, and have friends in the area, so that once you’re done with your work, you have a space to unwind, she says.

While talking about her future, Dowd says she is planning a trip to Argentina. She says she won’t be surprised if she meets someone from UC Berkeley there — going to Cal automatically gives you a large, loving family that continues to grow even after you graduate. Dowd could not be more proud to be a part of it. She says, “I sound so Berkeley, but it’s true!” #GoBears

Game of Routers: Barbara Liskov, Mother of Systems

 Barbara Liskov is not your typical grandmother. She is not only tech savvy, but to say she is the world’s most technologically competent septuagenarian would be a gross understatement. Dr. Liskov has played a vital role in creating the modern face of computing and the way that we interact with our virtual world.  Liskov has an impressive resume. She is a world renowned expert on programming and methodology, and was the 2008 Turing award recipient for her work on data abstraction, fault tolerance, and distributed computing. She established the Liskov Substitution Principle, one of the most important principals in Object Oriented design, and created CLU, the first language to support abstract data types. Additionally, she has written three books and over 100 technical papers.

Her work has been hugely influential; Liskov is a member of the National Academy of Engineering the National Acadamy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Association for Computer Machinery, and has the IEEE John von Neumann Medal as well as numerous other accolades. A California native, Liskov completed an undergraduate degree in Mathematics at UC Berkeley in 1961, before accepting a job at Mitre. After several years working, Liskov returned to academia and enrolled at Stanford. In 1968, she was awarded one of their first doctoral degrees in computer science. She was also one of the first women in the country to receive this degree. (Although she debunked the rumor that she was the first, as is often claimed. It would appear that a woman from Wisconsin actually earned that title several years earlier.)

BarbWhen asked about her experience being one of the first women in the field of computer programming, Liskov explains her secret to surviving the ever-prevalent sexism in the field. “I think that I’m a person who is kind of oblivious to things that are going on around me,” she says. She describes a photo that is symbolic of her experience. A colleague captured an image of a bored-looking Liskov in a meeting. In the photo she is being ignored by a group of men as she stares into the distance. While a colleague thought the picture odd, she found it funny. “It shows you what things were like… This happened to be a meeting where they were discussing an idea I had invented.” She explains her vacant expression in the photo not as one of frustration, but of disengagement. “I know what I was doing, I was working. This is my mode of operation, when…nothing much is going on, I start thinking about technical problems,” Liskov tells us.

This story is illustrative of why Liskov has been so successful. She works harder and smarter. For Liskov, sexism and prejudice didn’t warrant the energy that could be spent on more important problems. “I think the fact that unlike many women I didn’t pay much attention to this stuff was very helpful to me,” Liskov muses. Like most hard-working people, Liskov is passionate about what she does. She holds that she has always been more interested in her research than in mitigating factors. Although her field was very much in its infancy when she graduated from Stanford, she was not afraid of finding a career or of the risks of staking her education on a field that was as yet untested. “I was always more interested in the research, so I wasn’t thinking about the future at all.” she says. Characteristically, she was focused, “I was just thinking, ‘look at all these interesting problems.’”  

Little did she know what the future would hold. Even Dr. Barbara Liskov, however, is not immune to surprise and she expresses her amazement at the explosion of digital technology. “I was using the Internet at MIT but I sure didn’t see the web coming” she tells us. Lisvok was one of the exclusive few using the internet in its infancy. She has watched computers and the internet grow in real time. For Liskov, this spread has been fascinating as well as concerning. “It’s been a revolution on par with the industrial revolution; it’s completely revolutionised the way we live, not necessarily all for the good.” She is concerned with spamming, cyber bullying, security, and the hostile climate online. These are problems that seem to have come from the expansion of the internet’s user base, which Liskov has experienced directly. She tells us, “In the early days we were all just pals, you didn’t have to worry.”

NAL_1376Liskov does not seem like a woman who fears much. For her, focus always comes back to her work and that seems to be what she loves; her fame and success are illustrative of that passion. She started her journey in systems at a time when women were expected to leave the workforce to have children.  When asked what changed for her when she decided that she wouldn’t leave her career but would instead do both she says, “I realised there was no way I was going to stop working because I was really interested in what I was doing.” As someone self described as “unconventional,” Liskov has certainly taken her own path and urges others to do the same. In a time when many students focus their education entirely on its potential bankability, this reminder is refreshing.

“It’s not like there’s a one size fits all,” Liskov gives her own students this advice. “Go forward but keep in mind (that) you can change your mind.” She has spent many years in academia, enjoyed tremendous success, and mentored many students over the years; her wisdom is invaluable. Of her greatest lesson learned over the span of her career, Liskov says this about education: “This is your chance to learn who you are. You come in with expectations of what you want to do. You have to come to terms with who you are, what you’re good at, and what you like.”

Natasha Case: Coolhaus Ice Cream


Natasha Case (courtesy of imprintculturelab.com)

Natasha Case (courtesy of imprintculturelab.com)

Natasha Case is living the dream. Together with her business partner (who also happens to be her wife) she is the CEO of a nationally successful ice cream truck company.

Coolhaus Architecturally Inspired Gourmet Ice Cream got its start in 2008 while Case was working as an architect for Disney Imagineering. She began to devote time to “Farchitecture” (food-architecture) as a creative side-job to balance her corporate position at Disney, and from there the rest is history.

In 2009, in the heart of the recession and at the precipice of a massive career revolution, she and partner Freya Estreller launched the first-ever Coolhaus ice cream truck at the Coachella music festival. Since then, she has expanded the company on a national level to Dallas, Austin, and New York, has appeared on Good Morning America, is a member of Forbes’ 30 under 30, and sells products at establishments such as Berkeley Bowl and Umami Burger. And this is just the beginning.

Case likes to think big. Her ultimate goal? “We want to be the Ben and Jerry’s of this generation,” she said. “It’s all about innovative ice cream made with integrity and care.” This integrity and care comes in the form of groundbreaking new flavors such as Avocado-Sriracha and Fried Chicken and Waffles, architecture-inspired product names such as Mintimalism, and edible wrappers (imagine CREAM bags that you can eat).

The company sells ice cream, create-your-own ice cream cookie sandwiches, and beverages. Products such as prepackaged pints, hand-dipped bars, and ice cream sandwiches are also available wholesale at a variety of stores throughout the country. Case is committed to drawing inspiration from overlooked, often unconventional sources. Recently, she created a sushi-influenced ice cream sandwich made from Ginger Molasses cookies and Wasabi ice cream.

Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches (courtesy of inhabitat.com)

Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches (courtesy of inhabitat.com)

She attributes much of her revolutionary take on the ice cream/architecture industry to her undergraduate experience at Cal, where she learned to think big, think out of the box, and “just think in general.”

She recalls that one day during her undergraduate years at Cal, she found a pair of cute sunglasses sitting on one of the Dwinelle benches. After checking to make sure they didn’t belong to anybody nearby, she took them. A few weeks later she was wearing them on campus when a girl came up to her and asked if those glasses may be her missing pair. Case was embarrassed and confessed immediately, but she and the girl ended up spending the rest of the day together and becoming close friends.

“Things like that just happened at Cal,” she said. “You could steal sunglasses from a complete stranger and end up becoming best friends. Really, anything seemed possible.”

She remembers staying up until 3am discussing intriguing, inspiring concepts with friends simply for the sake of doing so. She also conducted undergraduate research with a variety of professors including Ananya Roy, wrote for a Berkeley undergraduate journal, and played intramural basketball.

“I learned so much at Cal without even studying,” recalled Case. “My experience was so stimulating. I learned to rethink everything, and of course I created lifelong friends.”

As an Italian Studies minor, she spent one semester abroad in Rome through a Cornell affiliated program. While she was there, she became friends with a Cornell student who was friends with none other than Case’s wife and business partner, Estreller. The two were reintroduced years later after she obtained her master’s degree in architecture from UCLA and was working at Disney.

Natasha Case and Freya Estreller (courtesy of m-dash.com)

Natasha Case and Freya Estreller (courtesy of m-dash.com)

Case herself had no business management background, but the combination of her creative, entrepreneurial mind and Estreller’s operations and finance experience created an unstoppable duo. Together, they seek to rebel against the rigid, out of touch side of architecture and bring it back to the people in the very accessible form of food.

Case believes that “women don’t have access to investments, nor do they have as much growth access as men do.” In the future, she hopes to accumulate the funds to invest in women entrepreneurs and increase female opportunity.

As she continues to transform Coolhaus into the millennial ice cream company, Case has some words of wisdom for Cal’s future innovators:

“Embrace the spirit of Berkeley and use it for all it can offer. Take whatever rebellious, revolutionary mindset you may have and let it shine as a trait to carry with you wherever it takes you.”

 

 

Full Circle: David Hollinger’s Journey from Berkeley and Back Again

David Hollinger’s office looks like what a professor’s office should look like. Two walls have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and books still spill over random surfaces. The walls are a pleasant, sea-foam green, and old maps cover the little open wall space that’s still available. Professor Hollinger has inhabited this room in the bottom of Dwinelle during his time as a professor of American Intellectual History for the last twenty-two years; however, he also walked these same halls as a graduate student from 1963-1969.

David Hollinger (Photo Credit: The Gospel Coalition)

David Hollinger (Photo Credit: The Gospel Coalition)

“Berkeley transformed me in a lot of ways. I owe just about everything to Berkeley” he fondly reminisces.

When Hollinger first arrived on campus in 1963, he received a culture shock. He came from a small Christian college in Southern California and was raised in a conservative Protestant family. Before coming to Berkeley, he had never met a communist or an atheist. Just as he had never encountered liberal-minded people, many of his peers had never encountered people with a background like his. They regarded him as a hick originally, but after some time, he convinced them otherwise by proving his aptitude in the classroom.

“The kind of really hardcore Protestantism that I came out of was very earnest out of everything. Very little sense of irony and wit was often to be suspect because it undercut this or that truth, so Berkeley was liberating for me in that I encountered so many people who were interested in ideas about so many things and were able to converse in a civilized and probing manner and where greater amounts of knowledge were respected rather than suspected. And it was an explosive, in the best sense of the word, period, for me,” he says of the change.

With these peers, Hollinger was able to discuss ideas he had never discussed before and have the freedom to love and play with these various ideas. He fell into acquaintance with many different kinds of people he hadn’t known before, politically active, left-leaning, caring people. He was so enchanted that he decided Berkeley-life was the life for him and that he wanted to stay in the university system permanently.

He happily embraced the intellectual, spirited Berkeley culture and picked up a picket sign to protest the Vietnam War. He laughs as he remembers running into a professor at a liquor store. Hollinger had a bottle of cheap scotch in his hand, and in line in front of him was a professor who was about to purchase a bottle of high quality scotch himself. This professor had written a book that Hollinger had just read and enjoyed.

Hollinger was excited to talk to him about the book, but before he was able to ask any questions, the professor turned around and roared, “Hollinger! Don’t you know when the revolution comes, it’ll be liberals like you who’ll be shot?” This was not the interaction the Protestant kid from Southern California had anticipated.

Picture of Vietnam War protestors in Berkeley (Photo credit: Bancroft Library)

Picture of Vietnam War protestors in Berkeley (Photo Credit: Bancroft Library)

After graduating from Berkeley, Hollinger took a job teaching at University at Buffalo. While there, he had many different experiences, including surviving the Great Blizzard of 1977. From there, he moved to the University of Michigan and taught there until 1992 when he was offered a job at Berkeley.

“I don’t think I would have left Michigan, if not for Berkeley.” he claims.

Even as an ardent supporter and champion for commemoration of the Free Speech Movement, Hollinger acknowledges the certain romance that surrounds the Free Speech Movement and the political nature of the ’60s. He remembers some detractors of the time saying that the idea of a free speech movement was the result of “bourgeois conceit.” He also recalls the people engaging for the opportunity to showcase their intelligence and not with genuine fervor for the cause. With time, he learned how to distinguish the “sanctimonious blowhards” from those who were real supporters.

Ultimately, the Free Speech Movement was an embodiment of a certain aspect of liberalism. Hollinger says that the time was consistent with classical academic values, not just the intention of them. He recalls a space in which the sharing of all sorts of ideas was welcomed, when debate was anticipated, and minority voices were not shut down.

Picture of Hollinger's latest book (Photo Courtesy  of Amazon Book Sellers)

Picture of Hollinger’s latest book (Photo Courtesy of Amazon Book Sellers)

“It gave me sense of what it meant to be an academic, what it meant to be an intellectual, what it mean to be a citizen, what it meant to be a more complete person. All of these things came to me as a graduate student in my six years here at Berkeley,” he says of the time. He emphasizes the fact that what he got most out of his time at Berkley came from the already established culture, the culture of intellectual openness and dialogue.

In light of the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement and the brewing political tension here at Berkley, Hollinger offers this advice: “Don’t try to copy what we did. Go your own way.” The spirit of the FSM and the spirit of what is happening now are wildly different, and the same sentiment can’t really be captured.

Hollinger encourages students to be active but warns that one should be careful to avoid falsely championing causes without the conviction or knowledge to back them up. More than anything he says that students need to remember that their time at Berkeley is a time to experience the great academics, so students need to be studying above anything else.

Though Hollinger has many pieces of wisdom to offer Insight, he wants his parting words to be these: “Not everything in life is political.”

Steined, Sealed, Delivered: A Conversation with David Stein, Coordinator of the FSM Trial

 

A picture of Mario Salvio being arrested. (AP Photo/Robert W. Klein, File)

A picture of Mario Savio, being arrested. (AP Photo/Robert W. Klein, File)

David Stein is a self-proclaimed misfit in the sense that he doesn’t feel at home in any of his three cultures. He holds many strong opinions on topics ranging from affordable education to the technology era to architecture. Born in San Francisco, he spent his childhood traveling the world with his parents until he settled in Delhi, India at age nine. He remained in India for the rest of his formative years and moved back to the Bay Area to attend Cal in the early 1960s.

Stein recalls, “Like many good Indian students, I had been told by my father [a renowned architect] that I wanted to be an architect.” So, he began his undergraduate degree in the College of Engineering as a Civil Engineering major, but after a few years in the program, he realized that it was not for him. As big of a proponent as his father had been of a technical education, he had raised Stein with a global worldview and challenged his son to think deeply about environmental and human issues. Eventually, it was this aspect of his upbringing that led Stein in the direction of his life’s work.

He still clearly remembers the day he made a definitive decision to drop out of the engineering program: “I was walking into an exam for an engineering class on November 22, 1963. It happened to be the day JFK was assassinated. I heard the news just as I was walking past the Campanile on my way to the exam. I turned in an empty blue book because I couldn’t focus on my exam when something so much more significant was occurring.” When his professor refused to allow him to retake the test, Stein left the program.

After he changed his focus two and a half years into his education, he spent a total of eight more years in Berkeley. During this time, he explored myriad classes in disciplines such as French, History, and Sociology, studied for a semester at Merritt College to boost his grades, graduated in Sociology, received a master’s degree from the College of Environmental Design, and most notably, played a crucial role in the Free Speech Movement (FSM). The FSM was a student-led protest that took place between 1964 and 1965, during which students demanded a right to free speech and academic freedom on campus. Throughout the decade, the movement had nation-wide effects on civil liberties movements, and it is the reason students can protest, rally, and even flyer (or “leaflet,” as Stein and his peers used to call it) on campus today.

Joan Baez performing at Berkeley.

Joan Baez performing at Berkeley.

Stein worked as the only paid staff for the FSM. For seven months, he worked tirelessly, seven days a week on coordinating the trial. He was responsible for organizing the fifty lawyers and 800 defendants involved. Stein describes the experience as “exhausting” but also incredibly important and worthwhile. He was surrounded by people who asked crucial questions about the state of American society and from them developed his own critical view of the world.

He summarizes the movement in two sentences: “We were fighting to receive an education in spite of the system that was designed to spew out perfect GM employees. By giving ourselves the freedom to talk and think essentially 24-hours per day, we were able to outthink the university administrators who went home at 5 p.m.”

This call to fight against a system that repeatedly fails to meet the needs of the student body is especially poignant today in the face of tuition hikes that pose a risk to affordable public education. Stein argues that public education is an investment by the State of California into its own future, and the privatization of education is detrimental towards sustainable societies.

According to Stein, “The idea that money and your bank account determine who you are, where you’re going, what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it is an absolute obscenity. Today’s model of society is allowing prices to be driven by a market to the point that billionaires buy governments. This is where the insanity comes in.” He insists that the entire framework of our capitalist society needs to be challenged and redesigned toward all citizens, regardless of their economic standing.

When Stein was an undergrad, his education cost $62.50 per semester, including health benefits. His mentality that a reformed society has to be fought for was developed by his experience as a Berkeley student and an FSM participant. Had an affordable education not been available, he would not have experienced moments such as the two evenings he spent in his friend’s apartment, listening to Mario Savio respond to the questions of a Life magazine interviewer.

Savio on top of Weinberg's police car. (Photo Credit: The Chronicle Files)

Mario Savio on top of Weinberg’s police car. (Photo Credit: The Chronicle Files)

Although he cannot remember Savio’s exact words, Stein says, “What he had to say about politics and democracy was the most beautifully articulated vision of shared humanity that I had ever heard.”

Aside from exchanging words with Savio, Stein had many other unforgettable experiences on the frontlines of the FSM. He was one of the students responsible for the successful sit-in that prevented the arrest of the FSM spokesperson, Jack Weinberg. Stein and as many as 3,000 other students sat on the ground of Sproul Plaza, prohibiting the movement of the police car that held Weinberg for thirty-two hours.

Today, Stein is semi-retired and lives with his Israeli wife. He continues to work on urban planning projects in the U.S. and abroad. Although he is not currently involved with any large-scale social movements, he is adamant about the fact that the questions raised by the FSM are more relevant today than ever before and that they serve as a warning about our current society.

“We formed a special community,” Stein says. “There was a sense of shared purpose—of purpose which was open to question and constant reevaluation. We didn’t claim that we knew all the answers, but we did know that the answers we were being given were false. We were determined that we could do better. We had to do better.”

Barbara Garson: Finding the Voice of Free Speech

 

(Photo credit Common Dreams)

Barbara Garson (Photo Credit: Common Dreams)

What does it mean to have been a part of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement? Insight settled down in the Free Speech Movement Café to chat with Barbara Garson, one of the original Free Speech Movement protesters. We were greeted by a warm voice and a black screen as Garson laughed good-naturedly about her unfamiliarity with Skype. With the help of her husband, she popped on and immediately seemed at home, jumping into stories of her time at Berkeley, which included, of course, anecdotes about the Free Speech Movement. The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was the UC Berkeley students’ protests against university restrictions of freedom of speech in the academic year of 1964-1965. Garson, the editor of the Free Speech Movement newsletter, had no trouble exhibiting her right to freedom of speech, saying exactly what was on her mind. She gave Insight unique perspectives, sparing and even spurning the clichés.

In line with Insight traditions, we asked Garson about the beginnings of her journey prior to coming to Berkeley. Garson laughed and told us that her former husband’s expulsion from another school was their catalyst to enroll in Berkeley. Berkeley became their choice due its virtual costlessness: at the time, only approximately sixty dollars per semester. Once at Berkeley, she started as a History major with hopes of focusing Latin American History but moved on to studying Classics.

“To this day, I compare current events to [those in] Greece, and I think, ‘How would I explain this—like the Iraq Invasion—to them?’” she said. “I’m glad [I studied] Classics. I don’t think Latin American History would have stuck with me as much.” However, Garson also admitted that her time at Berkeley was not entirely focused on studies. In fact, she only spent one school year at Berkeley…and that was, of course, the year of 1964-1965, during which the FSM consumed most of her time.

Garson entered Berkeley with what she called “antiestablishment tendencies.” After all, she had honeymooned in Cuba right after the Cuban Revolutions. It was in the FSM that she really began to take an active role, though. Although Garson stated that she was not at the center of the “steering committee,” her role as the editor of the newsletter helped form the voice of the movement. She admitted that if someone else been the editor, even someone like her husband who was quicker and more literate than Garson but away at the time of the FSM, “the newsletter probably wouldn’t have been so simply written, straightforward, and humorous.”

Garson was also unique to the movement in another way that she only discovered after watching FSM, a play written by John Holden to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the FSM. Garson was among the 800 students arrested during the movement, and for her, this arrest came as no surprise. When viewing the play, she realized that many of her classmates had experienced many anxieties about the arrests like “What will happen when my parents see me?” and “What will happen to my future career?”

The cover of one of Garson’s first plays.

She said, “ None of that ever occurred to me. Of course, it was easier back then. [Students] were just out of high school. We weren’t people who fought hard to get into UC Berkeley. The question was not ‘Would you get a job?’ but ‘Could you do something meaningful with your life?’ The times are so different.”

While now we may take the rights to freedom of speech on campus for granted, Garson noted that not so long ago, it was a general assumption that upon enrolling in the school, these rights were severed. Of course, she and her peers fought this. Despite the opposition Berkeley once had to the movement, the FSM has now become a canonical part of its history.

Berkeley has become known for its activist environment and frequent protests. The day of this interview, Friday, November 21, 2014, was no different. “Occupy Wheeler,” the current student protest against the UC tuition hikes, was raging at its height. Naturally, Garson opposed the tuition hikes and the current tuition, as well. In fact, right before coming to the FSM 50th Anniversary celebration, Garson wrote an article in the LA Times about exactly the topic in debate: the student debts that create such a different environment for students now as opposed to students during Garson’s time.

“It is completely absurd that the best schools in the country should cost anything,” she said. She gestured toward Norway as an example of a country that has a far richer educational system than the United States does. Though Norway is a wealthier country than America, Garson noted that it is not lack of money that has caused high prices for education in America.

Instead, she said, “It’s psychological and ideological matter here. The U.S. could make higher education free for little more than the amount of money it will spend giving scholarships and covering bad student loans, but there’s a political sense that it’s better, capitalistically correct, you might say, for the students to be indebted and worried. And of course it’s so profitable for lenders, especially when the government picks up the bad debt.”

As both Garson and surely today’s students recognize, the search for a career that can pay student debts grows more and more pressing. Garson’s own career as a writer started in Berkeley with her play, Macbird. “I’m a playwright but had no real comfort in the theater,” she said, so she published her play and sold over half a million copies.

What is this play about? In her own words, “It’s based on Macbeth, but it’s not a Shakespeare parody. I wasn’t making fun of Shakespeare. I was making fun of everybody else.” In shooting to fame for her institution-busting work, ironically, she clashed with the ideals. “We weren’t supposed to be famous. I was just an instrument of the movement, so I found the most obscure place I could.”

To avoid what they called “the cult of the personality,” Garson hid herself away at an anti-war GI Coffee House in a small town near an army base. That was her way of helping the Anti-Vietnam War movement. After that, she moved on to New York where she continued writing for newspapers and then wrote books.

Her first book, All the Livelong Day: The Meaning and Demeaning of Routine Work, was published in 1975. In this book, she traveled the United States, recording how people tried to keep from going crazy, while they did tedious work in factories and offices. Her most recent book, Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Lives, uses individual and family stories to show readers how working people have lost money and security over the last forty years, while financiers have gained it. Through lively personal accounts, it explains how increasing inequality led to The Great Recession.

Unfortunately, for young writers seeking to break into the business, the idea of paying writers has only grown more foreign over the years. “You’re finding your way into a difficult world where people expect to get writing for free,” Garson said. “Many writers, like myself, are likely going through those experiences right now.”

In addition, she noted that writing does not get easier. “At least not for me,” she amended. “When a group I’m working with needs a leaflet, I tell them that my being a professional writer just means that it will take longer. In order to be honest, simply honest, not profoundly honest, and to be interesting–it takes time.  So, you have to support someone who is doing that.”

The Internet further complicates things because a lot of writing is online these days and doesn’t pay. Garson said of this, “I recently wrote an article that was picked up by more than thirty Internet sites, some that call themselves magazines, but only one paid me. ” Garson acknowledged that, for young writers today, getting paid might mean writing pieces not of personal interest, though, she never had to go that route herself. As an established writer, she has the ability to suggest an article to a newspaper on a subject that she chooses, rather than asking what the newspaper is interested in.

The cover of one of Garson's books.

The cover of one of Garson’s books.

Garson has never had to disguise her own political beliefs, and even many years ago, they were a part of her public identity, as she was the Vice Presidential candidate for the Socialist Ballot of 1992. The socialist attitude, in her words is this: “If you had a lot of houses, would you let your brother-in-law sleep in the gutter?” Meanwhile, according to Garson, the capitalist idea is that “the worst people, acting on their worst motives will somehow bring about good [which] doesn’t seem to be working out at this point in history.”

“Capitalism always manages somehow,” she said, “but often with a lot of pain.” She believes socialism is appropriate for a rich society like the United States.

In closing, the interview turned back to the protestors in Wheeler, and Garson said, “We thought we won in Berkeley, but the people we [were] against were very successful in their rebellion against taxes. Rich people don’t pay taxes. They just don’t. You’re caught in a bind: should you picket the regents, the state, the national government…? It’s very hard to figure out how to picket the right people, the same people we fought [when I was] at Berkeley.”

In light of current and past events, Garson presented her advice as a Free Speech Movement leader, though she might not call herself one. In some ways, Berkeley is now a very different environment than it was fifty years ago, and in other ways, it’s still similar. Though the same tactics may not work again, Garson and her peers stand as a reminder that we, as students, do have a voice, and difficult as it can be, these rights were fought for and attained by people just like us.

We Were There: Three Perspectives on the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement

 

Iconic image of march at Sather Gate

Iconic image of march at Sather Gate

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, Insight sent out a questionnaire to participants of the original Free Speech Movement in order to find out their perspectives on the year they made history. Here are just some of their stories.

Peter Haberfeld
UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law student during FSM Protests

Insight: What was the most important thing you did during the Free Speech Movement, while at UC Berkeley?

PH: My arrest in Sproul Hall was significant for me. I was one of five law students arrested. I learned that law school was a very conservative place. Students and faculty were either not interested or hostile to what was going on in what criminal law professor, Rex Collings, sarcastically (and to the amusement of my fellow students) referred to as “Red Square.”

As a lawyer-to-be, it was an important lesson for me to witness the Assistant District Attorney, Ed Mease, arbitrarily directing the police to arrest our lawyer, Robert Truehaft, (who was observing the arrests) and have him locked up in a tiny cell at Santa Rita. It was good for me to see Truehaft defiant at all stages of his incarceration. It was instructive to experience the police being vindictive and physically abusive during the arrests.

Finally, I learned a lot about how to correctly wage a political defense to the criminal charges of trespass, unlawful assembly and resisting arrest which, to the best of my recollection, were brought against us. The well-meaning liberal lawyers who represented us for free naively believed that Judge Crittenden would show us mercy, if we waived our right to a jury because his former partner, lawyer Stanley Gold, was our lead counsel. We should have, instead, refused to waive our right to a speedy trial, insisted on being represented by appointed counsel, not waived our right to a jury trial and not agreed to accept the results of a trial of ten defendants. In short, we should have made it as difficult and costly to the County as possible to dissuade it from continuing to do the dirty work of the University.

In 1973, I was the lawyer in charge of defending 500 farm workers who, in Fresno County during the Statewide strike, violated picketing injunctions issued on behalf of growers by County judges without hearings. We played hardball, demanding that each ten defendant group to stand trial receive the assistance of the County-paid public defender’s office, along with lawyers who volunteered their assistance, refusing to pay bail and waive the rights to a speedy trial and be tried by a jury. The response by the local court was to continue the case for six months and then dismiss the initial as well as later charges. The County counted up its costs and decided that they should not continue to do the dirty work of the growers.

Insight: Did you keep in contact with any of the people you met/worked with during the Free Speech Movement? 

PH: I did not meet people during the Free Speech Movement. Later, I did meet and consult with Mario Savio and Mike Rossman about their ideas for politically defending Steve Bingham, the lawyer who stood trial and was acquitted in Marin County about fifteen years after being accused of taking a gun into San Quentin and handing it over to prison leader, George Jackson. I kept in touch with my two roommates who were also arrested in Sproul Hall.

Insight: What advice do you have for Cal students today– Cal students in general or Cal students involved in the current protests?

A dove represents freedom and peace

A dove represents freedom and peace

PH:

1) When you see an injustice that makes you think someone ought to do something about that, think why it should be someone else. It should be you.

2) Read the history of social movements to understand that an empathic minority has always risen to successfully change the status quo.

3) Do not be afraid of going to jail.

4) Learn about the art of organizing: building a force that reaches out and involves people one by one to counter the power of your opposition; be honest and establish trust with your followers. Work hard and create a structure that enables entry level people to work in three-hour shifts. Contacting others, show your appreciation and respect.

Be wary of people who pose as militants but will not do the detail work of establishing relationships with those who can be drawn to your project. Be courageous about advocating non-violence and do not accept the tactics of police agents and others who resort to violence and thereby doom your movement to failure. Cut loose individuals who are difficult to get along with because they will suck the energy out of your project and drive away potential members who already have enough hardship and conflict in their lives. Create an organizing project that has a series of small victories to sustain people who already have enough losses in their lives.

Les Kishler
UC Berkeley freshman during FSM Protests

Insight: What was the most important thing you did during the Free Speech Movement, while at UC Berkeley?

LK: I started as an observer and then, a participant in demonstrations. I [also] attended the rally in the Greek Theatre in December. [I was] at Cal during FSM, the Vietnam War and People’s Park. [I] did precinct work for Eugene McCarthy’s Presidential campaign and Ron Dellums for Congress.  [I also] worked to change the voting age from twenty-one years to eighteen years.  [In addition, I was] a member of the Zoology Graduate Student Union,  which took positions on how the University responded to the Vietnam War [and] sent [my] application for Conscientious Objection to the Vietnam War to my draft board.

Insight: Did you keep in contact with any of the people you met/worked with during the Free Speech Movement?

LK: [I] still have friends from those days and met my wife […] we were both freshmen in 1964 […] met in 1967 […] graduated in 1968 and were married later that year.

Insight: What advice do you have for Cal students today– Cal students in general or Cal students involved in the current protests?

LK: Keep up the good fight. Activism is healthy […] both intellectually and emotionally for the individual and is important for society.

A crowd practicing the art of picketing

A crowd picketing on Bancroft and Telegraph

 

Bob Cirese
UC Berkeley student during FSM protests                                                                                                              

Insight: What was the most important thing you did during the Free Speech Movement, while at UC Berkeley?

BC: I was one of the first persons to sit down to block the infamous police car. I was on the ground staring at the license plate, but I don’t remember if it was the front or back. Yes, I was so impressed with the extemporaneous talk by William Marx Mandel from the top of the police car that I vowed to get to know him. He was a well-known, left wing activist, and I came to know him very well. Bill became a non-student FSM representative. He was not an arrestee for a variety of good reasons. To my delight, I was quoted in this book, one of many that he wrote, about five times. Unfortunately, Bill, at age ninety-five, now has dementia.

Insight: What advice do you have for Cal students today– Cal students in general or Cal students involved in the current protests?

BC: Follow your heart but use your brain. Keep well informed at whatever is your interest(s). Be an activist when you need to be. Never give in or give up. Organize when you need to do so. Respect your foes and never underestimate them.  Always be honest and clear about your goals.

 

Change Apathy: Bettina Aptheker and the Free Speech Movement

 

Aptheker’s Speech. (Photo Credit: Bancroft Library Collection)

For many people, the Free Speech Movement (FSM) was an introduction to political activism, but not so for Bettina Aptheker. While its legacy is a credit to Aptheker’s involvement, her political career began years before she arrived in Berkeley. She got a taste for justice when she was thirteen, working for the Civil Rights Movement, and by the time she came to UC Berkeley, she was a veteran. The arrest of Jack Weinberg in October of 1964 was less of a political beginning for Aptheker and more of an extension of her political passion.

The events that directly followed Weinberg’s infamous arrest can be summarized thus: A group of students surrounded the police car that arrived to take him away. Weinberg sat in it for over thirty hours, and certain students, Bettina Aptheker among them, took the opportunity to open a dialogue about the right to free speech on the UC Berkeley campus.

Fifty years later, in a phone interview with Aptheker, Insight was taken back to this catalytic moment as she described the young leaders, Weinberg and Mario Savio, and remembered her own involvement with the FSM.

Weinberg, the man who inadvertently incited this uprising with his arrest had been, according to Aptheker, “a graduate student in mathematics” but had dropped out to devote more time to the Civil Rights Movement. Aptheker remembers Weinberg as being, “very brilliant–he still is, and he was then–[as well as] social and just very committed.”

Similarly, Savio was, in Aptheker’s words, equally “brilliant [and] a very moral person. He really weighed in his mind what he thought was the moral thing to do, and he wasn’t committed to any ideology or political party; he was a classic philosopher.” From this description it is unsurprising that Savio became a leader in the FSM.

While Aptheker went on to work for other political movements and causes, eventually becoming a professor in the Women’s Studies Department at UCSC, she remained close to Savio until his death in 1996. She describes his leadership as being integral to the tone of the movement, citing his transparency as the most important aspect of the FSM. She remembers his commitment to clear, open communication with respect.

“He told the students everything he knew all the time,” she insists. “In other words, if we had a meeting with Clark Kerr, like a negotiating meeting, the next day we would hold a rally, and we [would tell] the students everything that happened in that meeting. We didn’t hide anything; we weren’t secretly negotiating anything. There was a spirit of democracy and morality, which I think was very much a hallmark of Mario’s style of leadership, and I think that mattered a lot. It certainly taught me a lot.”

It was Savio who suggested that Aptheker respond to Clark Kerr’s attempt to discredit the movement by labeling if “49% Red.” Aptheker, a known Communist, made a speech the following day, creating a different kind of power hierarchy between the FSM and the university.

The speech itself went well. Aptheker says of that day, “I felt really excited…I remember enjoying it very much! I wasn’t particularly nervous. We all had notes, so we wrote out the thoughts we were going to express, and I enjoyed it very much.”

While there are many photos that capture the fervor of this movement, the most apt and entertaining one we have encountered is this one of Aptheker on the roof of Weinberg’s arrest car:

Aptheker casually smoking a cigarette on top of the

Aptheker, smoking and reading on top of the arrest car

Here we see the U.S. History and Cultural Anthropology student in her political element. Aptheker is perfectly at ease and coolly indifferent, smoking a cigarette and reading the newspaper that will surely feature her exploits and the work of the FSM over the next few months.

When Insight mentioned this photo, Aptheker laughed and admitted, “I have no recollection of when that picture was taken. I would say that I was having a very good time (more laughter). It was a very exciting time.”

With a career that spans so many important movements, expressing one’s life philosophy through a single, core principle was understandably daunting. Aptheker, however, gracefully concluded her interview with a philosophy that is both personal and yet perfectly embodies the greater FSM.

“I think [the] principle that I’ve tried very hard to embrace,” Aptheker said, “is to be honest—to be mindful of one’s honesty and of telling the truth. One doesn’t always succeed in this because that kind of transparent honesty can often get in the way of a certain kind of ego, if you’ve done things that aren’t in accordance with your absolute best self-image.”

Committee on Campus Political Activity (CCPA) meeting. Left to right: Sid Stapleton, Suzanne Goldberg, Bettina Aptheker, Mario Savio, and Charles Powell. (Photo Credit: Steven Marcus, Bancroft Library Collection)

Aptheker went on to describe the moment she came out as an example of this honesty, saying, “I did it in a classroom because I was directly asked a question by a student, and I did not want to lie. That was a very defining moment for me—that as a teacher and as a person working, [it was important] to do the best I could to really tell the truth.” Aptheker was conscious that the 1980s were not the best time for a lesbian to come out, but her life choices reflect integrity, not ease.

UC Berkeley owes its history of activism and free speech to Aptheker and her peers. It is impossible to be on campus and not feel the effects of their work in everything from the numerous advocacy tables on Sproul to the recent protests against tuition hikes. The FSM is a deeply ingrained part of the Berkeley psyche.

On this 50th Anniversary of the FSM, it is easy to point to the inevitability of the successful outcome. Amazingly, the entire academic year could be condensed into a single description: students at UC Berkeley protest and win the right to speak freely about politics on campus.

Complacency, however, is a discredit to the effort that went into this movement. Thanks to Aptheker and her peers, Cal’s history is a powerful one. The FSM legacy is everywhere and has come to represent UC Berkeley in much the same way that the Campanile and Sather Gate do. In the end, the success of the FSM is due not only to the large numbers and powerful voices of the protestors but also to their unwillingness to study on an apathetic campus. Passion, not complacency, is the legacy they have left us.