The Public Interest

Publish or perish—a defense

J. H. Hexter

Fall 1969

To academics, or at least to this particular academic, one of the most fresh and fascinating aspects of the student revolt is the extent to which it is directed against Academia itself. A generation ago, student revolt rarely took that odd turning—perhaps because students did not really give enough of a damn about Academia to bother. For me, the most interesting episode occurred a few years back, not among the large and rackety academic demimonde on the shores of San Francisco Bay, but rather in the ordinarily tranquil environs of New Haven. That at Yale University—Yale, of all places, with its broad, well-padded bottom, its ancient reputation for unassailable complacency, its undergraduate body about one half out of plush private schools— should witness a continuous seventy-two hour vigil of protest against a refusal to grant a permanent position on the faculty to a thirty-two-year-old associate professor, and that such a demonstration should elicit the support of a considerable fraction of the undergraduates- this was revolutionary indeed. It was evidence of a concern about education in general, and their own education in particular, rare among the sons of Eli in the good old days of the Whiffenpoof rampant.

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