Student leadership: Bridging the gap

"'What do you expect to accomplish?' they would ask. 'You have no power now, as a student. That is the reality you must face: you have little more power than we do. So why not wait until you become a doctor or a lawyer - why not wait until your words carry a little more weight?'"

-Corks & Curls editor, 1971

. . . This time of change included full coeducation in the fall of 1970 and the first fully integrated African-American class in the fall of 1969. A new student body offered opportunity for a new face of leadership. Students elected James Roebuck, an African-American, in the spring of 1970 to serve as Student Council President. Roebuck was the first black to hold the office and provided key leadership during the May Days conflict. University President Edgar Shannon commented on his relationship with Roebuck, "I was just as lucky as I could be. Jim Roebuck could disagree with you, but he was absolutely straight forward . . . most of the time we were pretty much in accord" . . .

Thomas Breslin-

The spontaneity and ad hoc nature of so much of what went on confused the University administration. They had been prepared perhaps, to deal with the Gardners and the Longs of the student body, the traditional agitators who had nettled then for years and whose liberal chants were music to the ears of conservatives needing reassurance that they were on the correct ("right") conservative path. But the kaleidoscopic leadership of Bruce Wine and Company was a little too much for them to keep up with. So some blamed the whole thing on outside agitators and some students for political reasons may have from time to time assured them that such was the case. It was not.

As for the leadership, there was an overlap with the civil rights groups. Civil rights advocates, myself included, tended to be anti-war activists at one point or another.

Raymond Bice-

A: What do you feel like this did for student leadership? Do you feel like it strengthened it?

B: Well, you can call it leadership if you like, but it was in questionable directions. The present leaders are really better leaders because they are seeking to do things that are constructive for the students and things they thing that students will support. I think the student government situation is just wonderful because the courts are making it very difficult but our students go ahead and do it anyway. In the end, usually when it goes to court, the students gets supported. But it is much more difficult than it used to be. And of course the students debate these things. The Jefferson Society has a long history of doing these things. The Honor Committees have kept this sort of thing alive. If it hadn't been for all this discussion, I'm sure it would have fallen under. They would have assumed that they somehow didn't comply with laws. The students wouldn't buy that. It was really remarkable.

Dewitt Casler-

We know that the changes are inevitable and for the good, but something within us yearns for the "Old U." We are the last of a dying breed: the coat and tie, bourbon swigging, fratty club "Virginia Gentlemen." Yet, we wish we could stay long enough to take part in the changes of the future . . .

I guess we were more comfortable at the "Old U." and now are nostalgic about it. But we know that this place has a long way to go with more changes, to reach its full potential. Perhaps, it's attitudes of those like myself that are holding the University back.