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Joseph Gerver
Columbia College 1970

From a letter to my parents, May 16, 1967:

"The Warmth Committee has been increasingly active lately. They rented a psychedelic colored bus and plan to drive through Harlem, South Bronx, and Bedford-Stuyvesant giving away food, clothing, books, records, and whatever else they can get. Toward this end, members have been collecting things from people living on Riverside Drive. I went along on one of these collecting trips a few weeks ago with Ronald Lane, the chairman of Warmth. Three or four people were sent to each building, while a couple of students drove a truck (rumored to have belonged to Timothy Leary at one time) up and down Riverside Drive to collect stuff as the students brought it out. Each student in the buildings carried a big colored sack. The group I was with was relatively unsuccessful until we came to an apartment with two Puerto Rican couples. Fortunately, one student in our group knew a few words of Spanish, because they didn't know any English. We finally managed to tell them what we wanted and they gave us two sackfuls of clothing. Later, we arranged for a Columbia student to tutor them in English. The other groups were even more successful. One woman had heard about us and told everyone in her building the day before. They gave us everything from bookcases to bicycles.

"Last weekend the committee planned to have a sleep-in on South Field Saturday night after the sweep-in at Morningside Park, to be followed by a picnic Sunday morning. The Barnard and Columbia administrations both gave permission for students to stay out all night because, as Dean Truman put it, it gave the University much better publicity than the demonstrations we have been having. However, the posters advertising the sleep-in jokingly played up the sex angle (fat chance—with five hundred students out there under the street lights and another five hundred watching from the dorms) and the administration believed it. One would think Truman would want to play this up, after the publicity the Homophile League has gotten. The Barnard administration said that they had been misunderstood; the girls could stay out until 3 a.m., while the Columbia administration said that students could stay out only until midnight. Not that any of this made any difference; it rained all day Saturday and Sunday.

"Last Sunday, they had a love-in at Riverside Park, featuring a paint-in, a graffiti fence, a kite fly-in, a non-verbal communications area, and a rock and roll band . . . I soon discovered a group of students lying on the railroad tracks underneath Riverside Park and taking an underground movie (literally) of the rock 'n' roll band through the grating in the roof of the tunnel. The student holding the camera had to get into all kinds of uncomfortable positions to hold it steady; I never realized making an underground film was so difficult. There were several girls wearing skirts and dancing on the grating. I wonder if they knew they were being filmed from below. I suppose they wouldn't have minded because their faces couldn't be seen.

"Meanwhile, someone had written 'F___ Communism' in red, white, and blue letters on the graffiti fence, and three policemen immediately came over and told him to cross it out.

"The college was really politically polarized at the student council elections; all but three of the candidates were endorsed either by SDS or a conservative coalition formed especially for the election. SDS actually nominated one student who had been suspended for the CIA sit-in. The winners included two SDS candidates, three conservatives, and one independent.

"A one-syllable word has finally been coined for SDS members, by some jock, unfortunately for SDS. Everyone now refers to them as 'pukes,' and I doubt they will ever be able to change this.

"President Kirk has finally been revealed for the hypocrite he is; after defending the CIA and marine recruiters on the grounds that Columbia should be a 'value-free university,' he has refused to grant permission to a group called U.S. Friends of the N.L.F. to recruit on campus, on the grounds that it might 'offend some alumni' and 'hurt the fund drive.'"

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