Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Right-wing paranoia and foolishness c. 1970: "The depths of your own mind"

1970: burned entrance of B of A across from UCI (From Anteater Antics)
     This morning, I came across the following post on the Anteater Antics blog, a stodgy-yet-interesting site created by the University of California, Irvine, “Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives.”
     But first: as you know, back in December, 1970, the Saddleback Community College District BOT, still freaking out over the burning of a bank by student protesters at UC Santa Barbara in February (see)—and likely also over the October UCI B of A incident described below—made remarkable modifications to already-approved plans for the Saddleback College Library/Admin Building—eventually called the “James B. Utt” Memorial Library. They modified them to protect the structure against feared (but, as it turns out, nonexistent) violent student protesters.
Library opening, 1973
     Hence the lack of windows, etc.
     Of course, the board didn’t just come right out and say that.
     Said board prez Hans Vogel, “A fortress without windows is the ideal environment for library study since when you go to the library you are trying to reach the depths of your own mind.”
     What about high windows? Can’t we at least have high ones? Nope, said Hans: “from a security standpoint I would question high windows and would favor solid walls.”
     Yep, security. That's key. (No violent protests have ever occurred in our district.)
     How about outdoor reading balconies? Those would be nice!
     Nope. Robert Lowery, the architect, explained that “We cut out the second floor outdoor reading balconies … in order to eliminate the chance students will throw books down from them to other students as you [trustees] suggested.”
     That's a hell of a suggestion, boys. (What were they smokin'?)

     Meanwhile, ten or twenty miles up the road at newish UCI (it opened in 1965; Saddleback College opened in Sept. of '68):

Local Bank of America burned (February, 2011)
     A fire was ignited at the entrance to the local branch of the Bank of America, located directly across the street from UCI on the ground floor of the Town Center Building, shortly after midnight on October 26, 1970. This is certainly among the most mysterious, and controversial, occurrences in UCI history. This event was viewed by some in the community as having a direct relation to the burning of the Bank of America at UCSB during anti-war protests in the Spring of 1970. That action drew national attention to the anti-war movement at UCSB. Then Chancellor Aldrich received many calls from the local community with concerns about the Irvine event, many accusing UCI students of this action. Chancellor Aldrich took exception to this assumption. Opinions voiced during this period ranged from those on the far right accusing the students and blaming UCI campus administrators for their tolerance of this type of dissent. Some on the left blamed those from the far right of carefully calculating and executing an event that would cause limited physical damage but significant political damage among local community members and taxpayers. Damage to the bank was estimated at $125,000 but no cash or records were lost in the short blaze. 
UCI, c. 1969
     There were no witnesses to the event and no one was ever arrested. (My emphases throughout.)
UCI Town Center (as seen from UCI Gateway Commons), 1969

"Utt" Library, September 1972

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