Sit-in Address on the Steps of Sproul Hall
delivered 2 December
1964, The University of California at Berkeley
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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below
transcribed directly from audio]
You know, I just wanna say one brief
thing about something the previous speaker said. I didn't wanna
spend too much time on that 'cause I don't think it's important
enough. But one thing is worth considering.
He's the -- He's the nominal head of
an organization supposedly representative of the undergraduates.
Whereas in fact under the current director it derives --
its authority is
delegated power from the Administration. It's totally
unrepresentative of the graduate students and TAs.¹
But he made the following statement
(I quote): "I would ask all those who are not definitely committed to the
cause to stay away from demonstration."
Alright, now listen to this: "For all upper division students who are
interested in alleviating the TA shortage problem, I would encourage
you to offer your services to Department Chairmen and Advisors." That has
two things: A strike breaker and a fink.
I'd like to say -- like to say
one other thing about a union problem. Upstairs you may have noticed
they're ready on the 2nd floor of Sproul Hall, Locals 40 and 127 of
the Painters Union are painting the inside of the 2nd floor of
Sproul Hall. Now, apparently that action had been planned some time
in the past. I've tried to contact those unions. Unfortunately --
and [it] tears my heart out -- they're as bureaucratized as the
Administration. It's difficult to get through to anyone in authority
there. Very sad. We're still -- We're still making an
attempt. Those people up there have no desire to interfere with what
we're doing. I would ask that they be considered and that they not
be heckled in any way. And I think that -- you know -- while
there's unfortunately no sense of -- no sense of solidarity at this point between
unions and students, there at least need be no -- you know --
excessively hard feelings between the two groups.
Now, there are at least two ways in
which sit-ins and civil disobedience and whatever -- least two major
ways in which it can occur. One, when a law exists, is promulgated,
which is totally unacceptable to people and they violate it again
and again and again till it's rescinded, appealed. Alright, but
there's another way. There's another way. Sometimes, the form of the
law is such as to render impossible its effective violation -- as a
method to have it repealed. Sometimes, the grievances of people are
more -- extend more -- to more than just the law, extend to a whole
mode of arbitrary power, a whole mode of arbitrary exercise of
And that's what we have here. We
have an autocracy which -- which runs this university. It's managed.
We were told the following: If President Kerr actually tried to get
something more liberal out of the Regents in his telephone
conversation, why didn't he make some public statement to that
effect? And the answer we received -- from a well-meaning liberal --
was the following: He said, "Would you ever imagine the manager of a
firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his Board of
Directors?" That's the answer.
Well I ask you to consider -- if
this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the Board of
Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I tell
you something -- the faculty are a bunch of employees and we're the
raw material! But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to
be -- have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any
product! Don't mean -- Don't mean to end up being bought by some
clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry,
be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings!
And that -- that brings me to the
second mode of civil disobedience. There's a time when the operation
of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that
you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've
got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the
levers, upon all the apparatus -- and you've got to make it stop!
And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people
who own it -- that unless you're free the machine will be prevented
from working at all!!
That doesn't mean -- I know it will
be interpreted to mean, unfortunately, by the bigots who run The
Examiner, for example -- That doesn't mean that you have to
break anything. One thousand people sitting down some place, not
letting anybody by, not [letting] anything happen, can stop any
machine, including this machine! And it will stop!!
We're gonna do the following -- and
the greater the number of people, the safer they'll be and the more
effective it will be. We're going, once again, to march up to the
2nd floor of Sproul Hall. And we're gonna conduct our lives for
awhile in the 2nd floor of Sproul Hall. We'll show movies, for
example. We tried to get
Un Chant d'Amour and [they] shut them off. Unfortunately,
that's tied up in the court because of a lot of squeamish moral
mothers for a moral America and other people on the outside. The
same people who get all their ideas out of the San Francisco
Examiner. Sad, sad. But, Mr. Landau -- Mr. Landau has gotten us
some other films.
Likewise, we'll do something --
we'll do something which hasn't occurred at this University in a
good long time! We're going to have real classes up there! They're
gonna be freedom schools conducted up there! We're going to have
classes on [the] 1st and 14th amendments!! We're gonna spend our
time learning about the things this University is afraid that we
know! We're going to learn about freedom up there, and we're going
to learn by doing!!
Now, we've had some
good, long rallies.
[Rally organizers inform Savio that
Just one moment. We've had some good, long rallies.
And I think I'm sicker of rallies than anyone else here. She's not
going to be long. I'd like to introduce one last person -- one last
person before we enter Sproul Hall. Yeah. And the person is Joan
Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by
Student Teaching Assistants
Research Note 1:
This artifact modified on 2/28/07 to replace "hypocrisy" with
"autocracy." Thanks to Larry Friedman for correcting the
Research Note 2:
This artifact modified on 9/18/09 to include Savio's reference to
the movie Un Chant d'Amour. Thanks to Professor Chris
Pedersen for correcting the transcription gap.
Mario Savio's Article "An End to History"
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