Class of 1969...
"A very unfamiliar City College will greet us when we return as alumni," the 1969 edition of Microcosm prophetically declared. Although there was skepticism expressed about the quickness of the planned changes ("Lewisohn Stadium – to be demolished when we were freshmen, to be demolished when we were sophomores, to be...still stands as we leave," the Microcosm also observed), the College has indeed changed dramatically in the decades since that tumultuous time.
Dissent was very much in the air in 1969, and City College had its share of protests and demonstrations. Battles over budgets and demands over admissions policies ultimately resulted in changes far greater than those in the campus's outward appearance. An activist minority group called The Committee of the Ten issued the Five Demands in the spring semester, demanding greater representation of Blacks and Puerto Ricans in the student body, and more courses relating to Black and Puerto Rican heritage and studies. The volatility of the situation led to a police presence on campus, and eventually to the resignation of President Buell Gallagher on May 9.
Protests against the Vietnam War reflected the turbulence in the world beyond the City College campus. There had been demonstrations against Dow Chemical and other companies connected with the war effort; now, the College became a sanctuary: Bill Brakefield, a young AWOL soldier, was shielded by the "commune" and other groups in Finley Grand Ballroom. At the time of graduation, issues relating to the presence of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) on campus, as well as the outcome of demands for black separation in various College activities, remained unresolved.
A new President and a new admissions policy would be among the changes at City College shortly to follow.
Many of these Class notes are excerpted from the 1969 Microcosm, Editor in-Chief, Joel M. Wachs.