April 17, 1969 – The American Council on Education publishes its “Declaration on Campus Unrest” criticizing student activists as “a minute group of destroyers who have abandoned hope in today’s society, in today’s university and in the processes of orderly discussion and negotiation to secure significant change.” University President Robben Fleming and the heads of 19 other major institutions sign the document, creating one of the most scathing and coordinated attacks on campus activism to date. In the next several months President Fleming’s relationship with activists will become increasingly antagonistic as activists stage massive demonstrations over the failure of the University Board of Regents to implement a student-run discount bookstore and the ROTC’s presence at the University.
Juxtapose that image with one of the latest pieces of University propaganda coming out of the Office of the President. In a welcome video, available at http://www.umich.edu/pres/welcome-rm.html, University President Mary Sue Coleman urges new students to take part in the University’s storied history of activism.
“Whatever way you decide to contribute, you will be carrying on one of the great Michigan traditions – the tradition of student activism.”
Within approximately 30 years, student activism has been attenuated from a force that gripped the hearts of the University administration with fear to a force so powerless that the administration is now able to cheerlead for its resurgence without caution.
Either Coleman and her scriptwriters are victims of stupefying naivet