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### Decades of Education Reform Struggles: Unveiling SFSU’s Activism Heritage

For more than 55 years, San Francisco State University has served as a focal point for activism in reshaping education, with students, faculty, and the wider campus community actively engaging in strikes and protests over the decades.

In November 1968, students from the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front initiated a strike following the suspension of George Murray, a teaching assistant and member of the Black Panther Party. This strike, lasting until March 1969, marked the longest student strike on a college campus in U.S. history.

Ann Robertson, a graduate student at SFSU during the 1968 strike, reflected on her experience, noting her initial exposure to political activism during that time.

Most of Robertson’s classes were canceled during the strike, except for one philosophy class taught by a professor who did not participate. This experience fueled Robertson’s journey towards political awareness. Upon returning to teach at SFSU, she developed positive relationships with faculty members in the philosophy department, despite her initial criticisms of their level of radicalism.

Robertson’s political awakening led her to engage with the California Faculty Association (CFA), representing approximately 29,000 educators across all 23 California State Universities.

Before the establishment of the CFA, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) represented faculty at SFSU. During this period, Arthur Bierman, a co-founder of the SFSU AFT chapter, highlighted the challenges faced by faculty members, including heavy workloads, low pay, and lack of contractual agreements.

In January 1969, the AFT staged a strike against SFSU administrators, the California State University Board of Trustees, and state legislators, emphasizing the importance of education for marginalized communities. The union advocated for faculty involvement in decision-making processes and demanded amnesty for all participants in the strike.

Similarly, the CFA focused on enhancing conditions for students and faculty, including salary increases, improved student-to-counselor ratios, and gender-inclusive facilities. Mark Allen Davis, CFA-SFSU racial and social justice representative, emphasized the ongoing relevance of student and faculty collaboration in addressing contemporary challenges.

While the AFT swiftly reached a tentative agreement in February 1969, addressing key demands and ensuring protection for striking faculty members, the BSU and TWLF continued their strike until March 21, 1969, ultimately reaching a resolution after 133 days.

Reflecting on the historical and present-day activism, Robertson emphasized the significance of collective action in effecting change within the university setting, highlighting the need for solidarity between faculty and students to shape a more inclusive and equitable educational environment.