Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Strawberry Statement by James Kunen

I have been reading a book written in 1968 by a nineteen year old student at Columbia University. He was involved with the takeover of administration buildings to protest University involvement in military research among other things. It is an interesting read, more than anything because it is the product of a funny, smart kid. Some choice quotes:

“In the summer following high school I made the ‘let’s-see-how-tough-you-are-kid’ scene at a place called Outward Bound in Oregon.

Tuesday, August 16, 1966: Up at 5:30am to climb mountain on a breakfast of tea and honey. No exultation at reaching peak; if you decide to turn around ten yards short of the top I’d consider it a twenty-yard shortcut and fine with me.”


“No, I have no statement to make at this time, except I’m still on the waiting list in a lot of ways.”


“My friends and I became preoccupied with the common nostalgic assertion that ‘these are the best years of your lives’. We could accept the fact that the college years are exhausting, confusing, boring, troubles, frustrating and meaningless – that we could take in stride; we’d seen hard times before. But that everything subsequent would be worse was a concept difficult to grasp and, once grasped, impossible to accept.”


“I went home to my apartment and my roaches. The roaches are a bit of a problem. We each have our areas. I have my corner, and they have the rest of the apartment. Except they always come into my corner.”


“A university is not a democratic institution,’ Professor Deane began, ‘When decisions begin to be made democratically around here, I will not be here any longer.

Commenting on the importance of student opinion to the administration, Professor Deane declared, ‘Whether students vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on an issue is like telling me they like strawberries.’

I like strawberries”


Barbara said...

When you started out with the outward bound comment, I thought you were going to choose all the ways you and the author were the same.

I liked the "best years of your life" comment. From experience, I think it might be retirement. More choices.

bulletholes said...

Yeah the outward bound quote.
A friend gave me this book back when we were 17. I wouldn't have appreciated this quote the way I do now, but it sounds so much now like we were back then. ain't that funny? How does that work?