Crisis at San Francisco State

Going to school at San Francisco State University was a great and unusual journalism education.  What made it special was not the classroom work, which was good.  The real training was in covering the drama in the hallways, the excitement on the campus commons and the turmoil on the streets.  My journalism education was attending a college that saw the longest campus strike in United States history.  Here’s how the SFSU describes the strike, some forty years later:

…the five-month event defined the University’s core values of equity and social justice, laid the groundwork for establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies, and inspired the establishment of ethnic studies classes and programs at other universities throughout the country.

The Black Student Union and a coalition of other student groups known as the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) led the strike, which began Nov. 6, 1968 and ended March 20, 1969. Clashes between the strikers and San Francisco Police tactical squads made national news. Students, faculty and community activists demanded equal access to public higher education, more senior faculty of color and a new curriculum that would embrace the history and culture of all people including ethnic minorities.

Those clashes between strikers and police were covered by professional and student journalists.  For students it was a great training ground, as you could compare your work against the professionals.  After the strike, a number of journalism students, most of whom worked on the journalism department’s newspaper Phoenix, wanted to publish a more interpretive look at events.

We decided to publish a magazine or “instant book”.  I was the publisher and editor.  But one of driving forces was Steve Toomajian.  His writing and hard work helped make the concept a reality.

We called the publication “Crisis at SF State.”  We got some money from a distributor, found a printer and published in the summer of 1969 [I think]. Actual dates have been lost. The book is still in a few libraries, but the publication mostly lost in the dustbin of history.  Here’s Stanford University’s library record:

Cover title: An interpretive look at San Francisco State College crisis… A collection of articles, essays, interviews, and photographs on the student strikes at San Francisco State College, 1968-1969.

I also put a copy in the library at The Poynter Institute.