The Assault on the Universities: Then and Now

Reassessing the Sixties: Debating the Political and Cultural Legacy, Stephen Macedo, ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997), 157–83; reprinted in Academic Questions 10:3 (Summer 1997); reprinted in Democracy and the Constitution: Landmarks of Contemporary Political Thought (AEI Press, 2006).


The assault on the university began with the student revolt at the Berkeley campus of the University of California in December 1964. Berkeley was followed by Columbia in 1968, Harvard and Cornell in 1969, and Yale and Kent State in 1970; during this same period, some three hundred universities were the scenes of student sit-ins, building takeovers, strikes, riots, and other forms of rebellious behavior. In addition to its violent character, what distinguished this assault from those of the past is that it came from within the university itself, and that it met little resistance from professors and administrators.

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