Students entering the USF Library will encounter three glass cases housing an exhibit titled “Frolics, Frustration and Festivities.”
The exhibit portrays the early days of USF in the ’60s and ’70s and consists mainly of newspaper clippings, editorial cartoons and photographs showing topics of conflict at the time. The exhibit gives the impression that while some issues have changed, some have remained the same and are still worth fighting for, even 30 years later.
One notable newspaper clipping features a headline clipped from an Oracle dated Oct. 15, 1969, and reads: “Vietnam Moratorium starts at USF today.” Along with black-and-white photographs, it clearly illustrates that some issues – the justification of a war fought abroad – remained the same.
Granted, recent protests on campus have not been as frequent and have generally stayed much calmer. They have never required the riot police that one photo shows. The caption of the “Battle for Fowler Avenue” explains how “riot police wielding bayonet rifles and hippies armed with their ideals” faced off during a protest.
The visit President George W. Bush made to campus when campaigning for his brother Jeb in 2002, however, had scenes that looked eerily close to the ones in the old black-and-white photos. During the visit, police on horseback escorted USF students into a “free speech zone,” and several protesters were arrested.
Other issues at the time concerned the academic development of USF, or rather, the lack thereof. An editorial cartoon featuring the administration building with a McDonald’s-like sign out front that reads “MacKey’s” criticized then-USF president Cecil Mackey for turning USF into a diploma mill. Ask faculty and students today and they may come up with the same concern.
The exhibit is a nice reminder that some struggles eventually bear fruits, even they seem like uphill battles at the time. The Vietnam conflict was, after all, resolved mainly because stateside pressure to bring the troops home increased over the years.
So, while bearded, long-haired students are no more (mostly), and Abercrombie-and-Fitch-wearing, well-groomed students seem to be the norm now, the political landscape of students hasn’t changed all that much.