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Those that did admit African American applicants did so under a strict quota system.
Put simply – and this is no exaggeration – college in 1960 was generally a place for white men, Christian by denomination, with the means to afford it.
Not surprisingly, men, by 1960, attended and completed college at roughly double the rate of women.
Due to restrictive admissions policies and cultural norms, many women attended private women’s colleges rather than elite private universities reserved for men or the flagship public institutions of their state.
The chill of the Cold War culture continued to shape the contours of campus life.
Professors were often required to sign loyalty oaths to keep their jobs.
Until the early 1960s, American college campuses were among the last places that one could expect to find raging debates over controversial ideas or alleged administrative efforts to limit the “free expression” of students, faculty or invited guests. Slightly less than ten percent of all Americans completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university in 1960. By 1947, World War II veterans made up roughly fifty percent of college students in the United States.
And that even takes into account the enrollment boom after World War II, when returning veterans used the newly enacted G. That trend continued into the 1950s after Congress enacted additional legislation to support Korean War veterans who wanted to earn a college degree.
Helpless undergraduates were being led to intellectual slaughterhouses by “tenured radicals” determined to implement their vision of a socialist America to largely unqualified students who did not deserve to be in college in the first place. Right-wing commentators most often begin their indictment of American universities by returning to the scene of their favorite crime against all that was right and good with campus intellectual life – the Free Speech Movement that emerged at Berkeley during the Fall 1964 semester.But this view fails to acknowledge where the first concerted student movement really began – on historically black college campuses in early 1960.On February 1st, students at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, soon joined by other close-by black institutions and even white women’s colleges, launched the first sustained sit-in movement directed towards ending racial segregation in public accommodations.C., at the suggestion of the legendary civil rights activist Ella Baker to chart a path forward.Out of that weekend the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was born, an organization that would soon take its place on the front lines of the Southern civil rights movement.