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Class of 1971...


The following description in the 1970-71 Microcosm captures the scene of the campus at that time: “Ever walk across the campus on a nice spring day and just look around? There’s a frisby game in progress, and there’s football on the lawn. There’s handholding, tennis and a rally at Cohen Plaza. There’s a friend or two passing by, there’s Raymond, City’s own roundtable ambassador of good will, friendly conversation and often times slightly soggy pretzels.”

As a result of the Spring takeover in ’69, in 1970 the College began an open admissions policy that allowed any graduate of a New York City high school to attend CCNY. The policy enabled a great number of students who would not otherwise have been able to attend college to earn a degree. Open admission, however, came at a cost. As Microcosm explains, over-crowding was a problem: “The lounges are crowded, the lawns are covered with bodies, registration is a greater hassle than usual because the temporary classrooms in the Great Hall turned out to be permanent. But you manage. You smile and you make do because you realize that this reality is the only way to equal educational opportunities.”

Tuition, at that time, was free, but there was a $58 Bursar’s fee and loads of books and supplies to buy. CCNY’s free tuition status was endangered by State cuts to the budget. In response to the threat of abolishing free tuition, students gathered in protest.

The class of 1971 participated in many other demonstrations. Student-aides working in Cohen Library and Finley Center took part in a peaceful, symbolic one-day strike demanding that they be paid the New York State minimum hourly wage of $1.85. The students triumphed. Also, the Puerto Rican Student Union (PRSU) occupied the offices of the Romance Language Department for alleged discrimination of the department. CCNY students also participated with students and others around the world in the Mayday anti-war protests.

The class of 1971 experienced a renewal in political activity on campus. Candidates running for student government launched vigorous campaigns, covering the entire campus with posters and leaflets. The New World Coalition, headed by James Small, swept the executive committee in the October student senate elections and also won a commending majority in the senate, carrying off 22 of the 29 senatorial seats.

Most of student government’s position on the College campus centered around three issues—drugs, ROTC and the Day Care Center. In one of the rare moments of unity, the student senate unanimously approved a resolution calling for the removal of ROTC from campus. This vote was approved by the faculty senate. The resolution urged that the program be moved to an off-campus center to provide services for interested students throughout the metropolitan area. ROTC enrollment had decreased drastically both nationally and at the College, as a result of widespread anti-war sentiment.

The members of the class of 1971 enjoyed a great number of cultural activities on campus. Four thousand Aretha Franklin fans attended her concert in the open air of Lewisohn Stadium. The first big name concert at the College, the “Queen of Soul” headlined with bandleader King Curtis and his Kingpins, and the renowned poet, Muhammed Ali. A five hour rock concert with the Youngbloods, Jeff Cain and the Allman Brothers performing was the second big name concert of the season.

Many of these class notes are excerpted from the 1970-71 Microcosm, Editor-in-Chief C. N. Lee.



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