Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Protest Masters 

Wednesday, Jul 4 2007
New College of California's Masters of Activism and Social Change program seeks "to nurture the development of thoughtful, self-reflective activists and facilitators of social transformation"; that is to say, to create a corps of professionally trained protesters. New College must be very proud of ASC's current crop of activists: Nearly half the students and all the faculty are quitting in protest of New College's "oppressive" administration.

Last Monday, departing members of the department held a meeting in a large classroom in the school's Valencia Street campus, in order to share their grievances with the rest of the student body. Rachel Stryker, the former ASC program co-director who left the school last week, read from her letter of resignation. Her complaints centered on the administration's response to an October 2006 SF Weekly feature story revealing that New College's beloved founder, Jack Leary, had committed pedophilia while in the priesthood. The administration did not warn the students or faculty that the story was about to break (in a newspaper that "thrives on scandal and bad journalism," as former ASC co-director Kai Lungren Williams noted at the meeting — touché!). The revelations would have caused a stir on any campus, but at hypersensitive New College, an uproar ensued. Stryker listed concerns the administration still hasn't addressed, nine months after the article appeared: "Why has there been no transparency around who knew what when about Leary? Did Leary abuse students while an employee of New College?"

The professionally trained activists organizing the meeting should have been able to conduct things in a manner in keeping with their master's degrees, but a curious thing happened. A contingent of about 20 people from New College's PHLUTE program (Pilot Hybrid in Leadership in Urban Transformed Environments) filed into the classroom, and they were not interested in sharing the "safe, healing space" the organizers had hoped to create. "You're having your secret little meetings to get rid of the president," one older man yelled. "Your secret Hitler-like meetings. I'm witnessing the oppressed becoming the oppressors!"

Rumors have since surfaced that the PHLUTE contingent was misled into attacking the ASC meeting by administrators hoping to disrupt the proceedings. Dr. Linda James Meyers, New College's co-academic vice president, strongly denied the rumors. But she said she shares PHLUTE's concern that the ASC trouble-makers might jeopardize New College's already shaky accreditation status. "There's a feeling that the ASC [department] has an interest in bringing down the school and the administration." But aren't the ASC students just doing exactly what New College trained them to do? Meyers grades the protest: "I'm concerned about the depth of analysis and insight" evident in the last week's gripe session. "They have to ask themselves ... am I creating a more just and healing world, and not just anarchy for the sake of anarchy?"

About The Author

Frances Reade


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"