Guide to the Records of SLATE


Contact Information
Jessica Moran

Processed by:
Jessica Moran

Date Completed:
Fall 2003

Descriptive Summary

Records of SLATE, UC Berkeley, 1957-1984, (bulk 1957-1960, 1984)

Collection Number:

Mike Miller

1 linear foot (1 box)

SLATE Archives Committee

The collection contains documents relating to the formation of TASC, a 1957 forerunner to SLATE, a late 1950s and early 1960s student political organizations on the UC Berkeley campus and one of the first student groups of the emerging New Left. The collection contains official organizational publications and documents, including documents from TASC, a 1957 forerunner of SLATE. The collection also contains the minuets of the founding SLATE conference, as well as correspondence and essays by early SLATE member, Mike Miller. A second series includes, correspondence, newsletters and membership information pertaining to the 1984 reunion of SLATE members, during which former members evaluated the significance and impact of SLATE and other 1960s student movements.

Administrative Information

Collection is open for research by appointment only. Contact the archivist for use information.

Publication Rights:
Property rights reside with the SLATE Archives Committee. Copyright rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce, please contact the SLATE Archives Committee.

Preferred Citation:
[Identification of Item]. Records of SLATE, SLATE Archives Committee.

Acquisition Information:
Records collected by Mike Miller, first Chairman of SLATE, Donated to the SLATE Archives Committee in [date ]. SLATE Committee continued to collect and add material to collection.

Processing History:
Jessica Moran, in co-operation with the SLATE Archives Committee, 2003.

Indexing Terms
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection.

SLATE (Student Political Party)
Student Movements - California - Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley - Students - Political Activity
University of California, Berkeley - Associated Students
Free Speech Movement (Berkeley, California)

Geographical Access
United States - California -- Berkeley

Corporate Names:
SLATE (Student Political Party)
Free Speech Movement (FSM)

Personal Names
Armor, David
Cleveland, Brad
Fowler, JoAnn
Franck, Peter
Hoffman, Phil
Kerr, Clark
McWilliams, Carey Jr.
Miller, Mike
Mills, Herb
Room, Robin
Roos, Phil
Schaffer, Ralph
Theodore, Irene
Thygeson, Fritjof
Tiger, Mike

Organizational History

In 1957 a series of events led to the formation of a UC Berkeley campus political party, TASC (Towards an Active Student Community). TASC in turn led to SLATE, one of the first student political organizations in the rising New Left and student movements and an important influence on these movements.

TASC, and then SLATE, grew out of the student government on the UC Berkeley Campus. On February 19, 1957 Associated Students of University of California (ASUC) Graduate Representative Ralph Schaffer raised the issue of discrimination in UC Berkeley organizations. Schaffer asked the ASUC student government to deny recognition to any groups that restricted membership according to race, color or religious or national origin. While the fraternities and sororities were not specifically named they were the implied targets because their memberships were often restricted by race and religion.

The Executive Committee of the ASUC refused to act on this issue. Because of the debate and the Executive Committee’s refusal to become involved, fellow graduate student Fritjof Thygeson proposed the formation of a campus political party at UC Berkeley. Schaffer, Thygeson and Rick White formed TASC, an ad hoc group of students who could to run for ASUC office and force discussion of discrimination and other such issues that affected both the campus and the greater society, nationally and internationally. TASC linked local and international issues of social and political importance and related these to the society that the students were hearing about and preparing to enter. TASC campaigned specifically against racial discrimination in fraternity and sorority housing, as well as against apartheid in South Africa. It campaigned for free speech on campus and voluntary ROTC and against the loyalty oath, the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee), and it vigorously opposed nuclear testing.

TASC modeled itself after the British Labour Party. It adopted the practice, common in the Labour Party, of holding resignations from its parliamentary representatives (in this case candidates for student government office), with the understanding that the party could file these if the candidate, after the elections strayed from the party platform. This concept was so foreign to US consciousness that the resultant furor on the campus ended the short life of TASC.

Only Thygeson won a seat in the Spring 1957 election on the TASC ticket. However in late 1957 senior Mike Miller, (who had been elected to the ASUC government a year earlier, but resigned in protest) called together a group of student leaders including former members of TASC and other previously unaffiliated students, and proposed they run as a "slate" for student government office. This "slate" quickly rejuvenated interest in serious student politics on the campus. While in that first election (Fall 1957) none of the members of the "slate" were elected, they did gain almost forty percent of the vote, and perhaps more importantly, twice the number of students voted in the election compared to the previous election with TASC candidates.

On February 5, 1958, SLATE was officially organized. The Temporary SLATE Coordinating Committee included Charleen Rains, Owen Hill, Patrick Hallinan, Peter Franck, Fritjof Thygeson and Mike Miller. Soon after, February 28- March 1, 1958, SLATE held an organizing convention during which roughly one hundred students founded SLATE to run candidates "committed to a common platform for student office in order to engage in issue-oriented political education both on and off campus. Around the same time, SLATE founded the independent newspaper The Cal Reporter.

SLATE was involved with both on-and off-campus issues such as "fair bear" minimum wages for students and affordable housing for students. SLATE led protests against compulsory ROTC, demonstrations against the death penalty, protests against the California House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and protests against racial discrimination. The organization and its work were quickly noted across the country. Tom Hayden spent the summer of 1960 living with SLATE leaders in Berkeley and learning of their methods. On returning to the University of Michigan that fall, (where he had just been appointed editor of the student daily newspaper,) Hayden formed Voice, a campus political party at Ann Arbor.

SLATE was the first model for a number of similar campus political parties that came into existence in the next few years, including Platform at UCLA, Polit (early known as SRP) at the University of Chicago, FOCUS at Reed, SCOPE at San Francisco State, ACTION at Columbia, TASC and SPUR at San Jose State, THINK at the University of Oklahoma, Progressive Students League at Oberlin, DECLARE at UC Riverside, Independent Student Union in Los Angeles, SCOPE at the University of Illinois, and several others. Many of these organizations were assisted by members of SLATE and there were personal contacts between SLATE organizers and organizers at other campuses.

The University administration was from the start wary of the popularity and pronounced politics of SLATE, (SLATE was jokingly referred to as the "Student League Accused of Trying to Exist"). The administration routinely and continually tried to diminish SLATE’s popularity and political power on campus. Overwhelming graduate student support for SLATE led, in April 1959, to the University disassociating graduate students from the ASUC, in an effort to take away some of SLATE’s electoral power. However, in the May 1959 election SLATE candidate David Armor beat fraternity-backed independent candidate, Dan Lubbock for student body president, also during that election a SLATE candidate was elected a representative-at-large. Two SLATE graduate students, Marv Sternberg and Cary McWilliams Jr., still on the ballot, were elected graduate student representatives (though they would not be allowed to serve). The dissociation of graduate students took away SLATE’s largest constituent and much of its electoral power and while the group continued to run candidates following the 1959 decision, few SLATE candidates were elected.

Beginning as early as 1956, students Hank DiSuvero, Peter Franck and Pat Denton, who would later join TASC and most of whom would become leaders of SLATE had, with the encouragement of Clark Kerr (then Chancellor of the Berkeley campus and later President of the University), worked to modify "Rule 17" which limited the free speech and political organizing abilities of students on campus. Kerr encouraged these student leaders to lobby the University President Robert Gordon Sproul to modify rule 17 and allow political speakers and meetings on the campus. However, after becoming UC President, Kerr would later (October 1959) issue the Kerr Directives, which reorganized and codified the rules, (including Rule 17) for political participation on UC campuses and severely limited student groups’ ability to organize or speak out on contemporary political events.

In May 1960 SLATE students helped organize and attended the Anti-HUAC demonstration outside San Francisco’s City Hall. The peaceful demonstration turned violent when police fire-hosed the demonstrators and arrested sixty-eight people, thirty-one of whom were UC Berkeley students. That same year the group was featured in California’s HUAC report on subversive activities. In December 1960 SLATE published a LP record about the HUAC hearings and demonstrations called "Sounds of Protest," narrated by Kenneth Kitch and Mike Tigar. While the record was not as popular as the film on the same topic, "Operation Abolition" it did cause the university embarrassment.

SLATE, which repeatedly clashed with the UC Berkeley administration, was warned in March 1961 that calling itself a "campus political party," rather than a "student organization concerned with the ASUC, as its official application for on-campus recognition state, was in violation of the terms of SLATE's campus recognition. While SLATE chairman apologized for using the term "political party" and explained that it was a mistake, a second published identification of SLATE in a telegram published in the Ohio State Lantern, as a "campus political party" led to the UC administration revoking SLATE's status as a recognized student organization on June 10, 1961. By taking away SLATE's status as a recognized student organization, the UC Berkeley administration took away its right to hold meetings on campus, have office space on campus, and generally participate in campus life. Student political groups such as the Young Republicans, the Young Democrats and the Young Socialists were also off-campus political groups, which meant that they could take part in political discussions and activism off campus, but could not enjoy any of the privileges of campus recognized groups, including holding business and membership meetings on campus. However, as an off-campus group, SLATE was still allowed, with advance permission to sponsor special events on campus.

In 1962 SLATE took part in protests against during the Charter Day ceremonies, at which President John F. Kennedy spoke. Protesters used this event to protest against the resumption of nuclear testing, as well as US-Cuba relations, civil rights violations, both in the South and locally, as well as the activities of the HUAC and compulsory ROTC.

In 1963 the last issue of the Cal Reporter was published as a special issue on education at Cal, after which SLATE began publishing the SLATE Supplement to the General Catalog, which offered student evaluations and recommendations of courses and professors. The Supplement was among the first student evaluations of teachers and courses and was received critically by both the UC administration and the faculty. The Supplement served as a guide for new undergraduates about how to enroll in classes and navigate the large university, as well as offering evaluation of specific courses and professors.

SLATE members took an active part in the formation and life of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in 1964-1965. During these events SLATE candidates swept the December 8, 1964 ASUC election, Sandor Fuchs, Slate chairman and an FSM leader, said:

"The victory for Slate is a victory for the Free Speech Movement, and an independent ASUC. It comes at a time of the greatest victory for the student movement, just hours after the Academic Senate voted for full free speech on campus." ["Three Months of Crisis: Chronology of Events," California Monthly, (February 1965). Free Speech Movement Chronology, Bancroft Free Speech Digital Archives,]

During the life of SLATE, both as an on campus and off campus group, roughly 850 students were "card carrying" members of SLATE.

Scope and Content of the Collection

This collection comprises personal and organizational records of SLATE, 1957-1984. The collection documents the establishment of a new kind of student "political party" on the UC Berkeley campus, following the McCarthy Era. The collection documents both the official documents of SLATE, including early organizational minuets and platform statements, but also the personal correspondence and writings of one of the organizations founders, Mike Miller. Much of the early documents appear to have been organized at some point in the past, however that original order has not survived, leading to the organization structure described below.

The collection is organized chronologically and into two series, based on the early life and formation of TACS and then SLATE, and the 1984 reunion of SLATE members.

Series 1: SLATE/TASC , 1956-1962?, . linear ft.
Series 2: SLATE Reunion , 1984, linear ft.


II SLATE Reunion
a. documents, correspondence, and other papers relating to the reunion
b. clippings, and other press relating to reunion
c. Miller papers speeches prepared for reunion

Collection Contents

Series 1.
TASC/ SLATE (bulk 1957-1959)
.17 linear ft.
Series Scope and Content Summary

This series contains documents, including minuets, correspondence, leaflets and publications relating to the early history of SLATE, including its predecessor TASC). The series includes Associated Students University California (ASUC) Executive Committee meetings, including discussions of the Schaffer anti-discrimination bill, Mike Miller activity in the Executive Committee and election results. This series also includes the founding documents of TASC and SLATE, including reports from the SLATE Convention held, February 28-March 2, 1958, and documents from SLATE Summer Conferences. This series also includes papers written about SLATE by Miller, and an extensive collection of clippings on SLATE activities from the Daily Cal, the UC Berkeley student newspaper.

[Box 1: 1] ASUC Executive Committee Minutes, February 1957-April 1957
[Box 1: 2] ASUC Executive Committee Minutes, May 1957-December 1957
[Box 1: 3] ASUC Election Documents, April 15, 1957
[Box 1: 4] TASC, 1957
[Box 1: 5] Correspondence and Written Statements, 1957
[Box 1: 6] ASUC Executive Committee Election Documents , December 1957
[Box 1: 7] SLATE Election leaflets, December 1957
[Box 1: 8] SLATE organizing Convention Documents
[Box 1: 9] SLATE organizing Convention Documents
[Box 1: 10] SLATE internal Documents, 1958
[Box 1: 11] Mike Miller Correspondence, April 1958
[Box 1: 12] ASUC Election Rules, 1958
[Box 1: 13] SLATE vs ASUC Executive Committee
[Box 1: 14] SLATE Election Leaflets, 1958
[Box 1: 15] SLATE Election Documents, 1958
[Box 1: 16] Stephen Plagemann Correspondence, 1964
[Box 1: 17] SLATE Misc.
[Box 1: 18] Student Political Behavior and Attitude, 1958
[Box 1: 19] Untitled Essay on ASUC and SLATE
[Box 1: 20] SLATE: A Case Study in the Structure and Function of Social Conflict
[Box 1: 21] Draft, SLATE: A Case Study in Social Conflict
[Box 1: 22] The History of SLATE
[Box 1: 23] The History of SLATE, spring 1958
[Box 1: 24] SLATE Summer Conference, summer 1961
[Box 1: 25] SLATE Summer Conference, summer 1962
[Box 2: 1] Newspaper Clippings, 1957
[Box 2: 2] Newspaper Clippings, December 1957
[Box 2: 3] Newspaper Clippings, January-March 1958
[Box 2: 4] Newspaper Clippings, March- April 15, 1958
[Box 2: 5] Newspaper Clippings, April 15-May 1958
[Box 2: 6] Cal Reporter, 1958-1960
[Box 2: 7] SLATE pamphlets

Series 2.
Series Scope and Content Summary

This series includes the documents relating to the 1984 Reunion of SLATE. The series includes correspondence organizing the reunion meeting, SLATE membership name and address lists, and leaflets and handouts distributed at the meeting, as well as post meeting correspondence and newsletters. The series includes correspondence with Irene Theodore, Peter Franck, Mike Miller, Fritjof Thygeson and others. Also included are documents by Miller and other contemplating the meaning and influence of SLATE.

[Box 2: 8] SLATE Reunion Statements, 1984
[Box 2: 9] SLATE Reunion Correspondence, 1984
[Box 2: 10] Miller notes and drafts, 1984
[Box 2: 11] Reunion Conference leaflets, 1984
[Box 2: 12] Post Reunion documents, 1984
[Box 2: 13] Other New Left reunion and meetings information, 1984


SLATE Periodicals
Cal Reporter
SLATE (Student Political Party)
Volume 1 (1958)-volume 4 (1963)
UC Archives 308r.S63.c;

SLATE newsletter.
University of California, Berkeley. SLATE.
[Berkeley, CA, 1961-1962]
UC Archives 308r.S63.n;

Root and Branch: A Radical Quarterly
Berkeley, 1962

SLATE : supplement to the general catalogue.
[Berkeley, CA, 1963]

Slate supplement to the General catalog, A.S.U.C. synopsis of courses [and] Booklist of all courses.
Spring '67 joint ed.
[Berkeley, ASUC Bookstore, 1967]

Archival collections in Bancroft Library
Handbills and publications issued by SLATE, together with materials concerning the organization.
Dec 1957-Apr 1965

Materials concerning elimination of discrimination in student groups and student housing at the University of California, Berkeley, 1956- 1959.
Shaffer, Ralph Edward.
(1 folder)
Photocopies of correspondence, memoranda and other documents in Shaffer's attempt to have the Executive Committee of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley adopt an antidiscrimination statement that would apply to student groups and student housing seeking official University recognition.
Ralph E. Shaffer was a graduate student representative on the Associated Students Executive Committee.

Clark Kerr office files regarding the Free Speech Movement, 1964-1985 (bulk 1964-1965).
(Office files containing memoranda, notes, reports, transcripts, statements, leaflets, handouts, and miscellaneous material about the Free Speech Movement. Also includes a small amount of material on Slate and Vietnam Day Committee.)

Oral Histories in Bancroft Library
Alex C. Sherriffs, "The University of California and the Free Speech Movement: Perspectives from a Faculty Member and an Administrator" an oral history conducted in 1978 by James H. Rowland, The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1980.

Alex C. Sherriffs. 1978.
Available from the Online Archive of California;

Edward W. Strong, "Philosopher, Professor, and Berkeley Chancellor, 1961-1965," an oral history conducted in 1988 by Harriet Nathan, The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1992.

Edward W. Strong.
Available from the Online Archive of California;

Books and Articles
Hoffman, Donald A., ed. Rebels With a Cause. US National Student Association, 1961.

Johnson, Dale F. "On the Ideology of the Campus Revolution," Studies on the Left, Vol. 2, No.1, 1961.

Moore, Charles E., Anarchy on the Campus: the Rebels and the Law. Washington, D.C., 1965.

Newman, David. "Return of the Campus Rebel," Esquire (September 1961).

Richmond, Al. Campus rebels : a study of the revived moral concern with political and social issues among American students and their commitment to action. San Francisco: Pacific Publishing, 1960.

Truehaft, Mitford. "The Indignat Generation," The Nation (May 27. 1961).