1958 to 1966--SLATE, a left-wing campus political party at UC Berkeley

TASC--predecessor to SLATE

 

In the Spring of 1957 a campus political party called Toward An Active Student Community (TASC) was organized by Fritjof Thygeson, Rick White and others. It ran candidates in the student government election.  TASC's candidates ran on a liberal platform, and were defeated by a large margin.

The next semester, Mike Miller, an undergraduate representative on the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) Senate, resigned his post and organized a slate of candidates to run on a platform supporting racial equality, free speech on campus , voluntary ROTC and participation in the National Student Association (NSA).  That  election campaign doubled the electorate and the Miller slate received between 35-40% of the vote.  

 

SLATE and ASUC elections

 

In February, 1958, encouraged by the votes they had received in the Fall, 1957 election, the Miller candidates, joined by Fritjof Thygeson, Rick White, Peter Franck, Marv Sternberg, and Wilson Carey McWilliams, formally established SLATE, self-described as a campus political party.  SLATE was not an acronym, but simply stood for a slate of candidates who ran on a common platform.  The university administration approved SLATE as a student organization, but not as a political party.

In the spring of 1959 the first and only SLATE student body president, David Armor, was elected, along with four other representatives, with a large number of votes coming from graduate students. The university administration quickly responded by announcing that graduate students would no longer be considered members of the Associated Students and thus would be ineligible to vote in the student elections.

 

SLATE's issues

 

SLATE continued to contest student elections, raising issues of free speech and academic freedom, as well as the right of students to take positions on such "off-campus" public issues as racial discrimination, capital punishment, civil liberties, war and peace, and farm worker unionization.   Berkeley Chancellor Clark Kerr developed a set of directives governing the rights of student organizations to sponsor speakers while prohibiting recognized campus groups from taking stands on "off-campus" issues.  SLATE led the opposition to the Kerr Directives, beginning the movement for free speech on campus that culminated in the victories of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) during 1964 and 1965.

 

For a brief period, SLATE served as a kind of "think tank" for a variety of students interested in social change on campus and in the larger world.  Its members hosted a number of Summer Conferences in 1960-1963 which offered sessions on free speech, civil rights, nuclear disarmament and the conditions and organizing efforts of farm workers, among others. 

 

The end of SLATE

 

With the abolition of major restrictions on political speech, as won by the broadly popular FSM, the need for a multi-issue student political party waned, as did interest in an increasingly irrelevant student government.  SLATE won five positions on the Board of the Associated Students in the fall 1964 election, but failed to retain control of the student government when it only elected two representatives in Spring 1965 and lost the campaign for student body president . SLATE then attempted to draft a new student government constitution, but the proposed document was voted down in a referendum in April 1966. With many students feeling that student government was hopeless as an arena for promoting social change, SLATE voted to dissolve itself in October 1966.

SLATE candidates, 196?.  Help me identify them. 

SLATE candidates for 1965 ASUC elections. 

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1962 SLATE summer conference picnic in Tilden Park, Berkeley

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1962 SLATE summer conference session in a Dwinelle Hall classroom. Conn (Ringo) Hallinan is in the foreground.  

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1962 SLATE summer conference picnic.

SLATE members gather around the pancake batter.

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Summer Conference session.  

Summer conference. Mike Miller shown speaking to attendees. 

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Summer conference, general meeting

Summer conference, general meeting.  Questions were asked from the floor.

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1962 SLATE summer conference speaker.

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Summer conference, speakers' podium, general meeting.  Carl Bloice, Peoples World newspaper reporter, is second from left.

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1962 SLATE summer conference,  Bancroft and Telegraph sign-ups and written materials for conference attendees.

Late night work session at the 1962 SLATE summer conference.  In those days before Xerox machines, leaflets and other printed materials were typed on stencils, printed on mimeograph machines and collated by hand.