By Chris Kulawik
PUBLISHED APRIL 2, 2008
For four days in late April, liberal members of the Columbia
Community will celebrate the heroic labors of the 1968 rioters. Todd
Gitlin, Mark Rudd, and that cast of '60s characters will be reunited
once more on April 24-27 in Low, Hamilton and about a half dozen
campus buildings. This time they've been invited. The students that
ruined Columbia's reputation for the better part of a half century
are now our esteemed guests and honored speakers. From a discussion
led by Bollinger entitled "Political Action and Official Response,"
to a noon "lunch for those who took part in the occupation of
Hamilton Hall, their families, and friends," the radicals that
stormed buildings will quietly attend ludicrously institutionalized
events. Funny, they don't see the irony in that.
There is, of course, a caveat. The '68 rioters are more than welcome
on campus. Disagree as I might with their politics, they're an
instrumental part of Columbia's legacy. For better or for worse,
there's no way around that. In 2008, however, Spring 1968 isn't the
problem. There's no way to go back and right wrongs. The problem,
then, is how we've come to remember not only the strikers but campus
sympathies. I fear that today's student radicalsthe hunger strikers
and their supporters, for examplelook to the '68 generation not with
cautious and guarded praise, but with idolatry in their eyes.
Conspicuously absent from the lectures and picnics is a discussion or
celebration of the conservative and moderate students, the Majority
Coalition. The Majority Coalition, largely a student venture, had
thousands of signaturesthey drastically outnumbered the liberal
activists. And while they were as much student activists as were SDS
members, they've been systematically written out of the '68
narrative. Whether you attend the events surrounding the 40 year
anniversary or not, keep the Majority Coalition in mind. Lest we
forget, they were the true face of Columbia University.