U of R books series
James Pitsula explores the cultural and social history of the U of R in the 1960s
Article: Michael Chmielewski – Editor-in-Chief
Have you ever walked the halls of the U of R and wondered who has gone there before you, what events took place, or what the important issues were on campus decades ago? If you’ve had time to think of anything besides your daily, or semesterly, grind, most likely this thought has come across your mind. Now, with James Pitsula’s book New World Dawning: The Sixties at Regina Campus, it is possible to gaze back to an amazing time period in this institution’s history.
New World Dawning explores the so far most interesting post-WWII decade, the 1960s, and it analyzes the infamous decade in context of the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan. This institution was a part of the U of S until 1974, but before that it was a red (in alignment)-hot liberal arts and sciences college of the U of S.
The campus provides an interesting focal point to spring off Pitsula’s study. Pitsula, a retired professor of history who taught at the U of R from 1978 to 2013, used the Carillon as a primary source.
“The Carillon was an excellent source. The quality of the writing was good, and the articles opened a window to the 1960s,” said Pitsula. He also mentions the conflicts the staff at the time had over their vision of the paper, in terms of what journalism should be. Some thought the paper should be “objective,” while others argued for “advocacy” journalism.
The paper at the time was controversial. Some more notable incidents include publishing the FLQ Manifesto in protest of Pierre Trudeau’s imposition of the War Measures Act, talking to the famous Black Panther, Fred Hampton, two weeks before he died, running a two page spread of, as Pitsula writes, a political message that depicted “a womb, a penis, pelvic bones that look like skulls (or vice versa), seeds (or drops of blood?)” that contained the message “Happy New Year From The Carillon.” It turns out, the “figure both in and emerging from the womb is Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Vietnamese independence movement and president of North Vietnam. Pretty cool. The then Board of Governors tried to shut down the paper. As you can see, the Carillon survived the Board’s efforts. Read more about ridiculous life and times of the Carillon in New World Dawning.
There was more of the 1960s here than the Carillon though. Pitsula explains that the campus “experienced major growth in the 1960s, and both reflected and expressed the spirit of youth, innovation, and idealism that was characteristic of that era. It took the lead in such things as the anti-war movement, women’s liberation, Aboriginal rights, and student power.”
Obviously, there has been quite a change since then, and it seems now that there is a huge difference in student politics amongst generations. Pitsula explains that the change isn’t in student politics “per se,” but more so in the “general social and economic climate in which student politics operate.”
“The youth of the [1960s] viewed the world through rose-tinted glasses. They thought they had the answer to everything, but now we see that perhaps they did not.”
There are many more interesting facts to learn from Pitsula’s book, such as the fact that the same designer who designed the World Trade Center also planned this campus.
Once, I was sitting in the classroom building and reading New World Dawning when a man with bad teeth, fatigues, and a big military style backpack yelled at me “that’s a bad book.” When asked why, he responded “because of the cover. I don’t like it.”
Don’t listen to that guy. He’s wrong.