Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories–Discovering IDA, 1967

Chapter 8: Discovering IDA, 1967 (v)
After smoking with Ted once, I was no longer reluctant to share a pipe of grass or a joint with the anti-war heads to whom I rapped politically about SDS within the Columbia dorms. Most of the Columbia students I turned on with used pipes or water pipes, not joints. By breaking the law together and smoking together, not just talking politics or developing organizer-organized relationships, I and the Columbia students I turned on with in 1967 ended up feeling emotionally closer after each political discussion/pot smoking session.

I enjoyed smoking pot because I think it made me more open emotionally, helped bring me closer to people and made me feel emotionally high more intensely and quickly than the alternative methods I had been using. When I turned on, I felt even more of a generalized love for people of my generation than I felt when straight. I enjoyed the ritual of sharing pipes and joints with each other. I considered myself more of a head than a doper and I always found it most meaningful to turn on with leftist or anti-war heads than to smoke with purely apolitical dopers. In 1967 and 1968, nearly everybody within Columbia’s dormitories was smoking pot at least occasionally, and many students were constantly tripping. It was a common sight in the non-coed dormitories to see tripping, long-haired hippies like Elliot or Fletcher wandering aimlessly around the halls or campus at night, off in their own world, with eyes shining in a mystical way.

The love vibrations on campus seemed to intensify for awhile. People seemed to be more open to getting sexually or emotionally involved with each other in a more rapid way than they were in the early 1960s. Large numbers of students, influenced by the effects of pot and LSD, started to drop out spiritually from the achievement-oriented, yuppie-careerist track which had channeled them to elitist universities like Columbia. Pot and acid, and the sensations and insights that pot and acid induced, seemed to reveal the idiocy and superficial nature of all those straight careers and academic life options baby boom people had been programmed to fit into. There was some relationship between the growth of student radicalism and the spread of hedonistic grass and drug-use. But the excessive usage of pot and drugs also tended to depoliticize large numbers of politically-inclined bohemian youth, as well.

Hard-core New Left people at Columbia, however, were able to smoke pot regularly with each other without becoming less politically active. One theory was that if a person was already a leftist and had leftist moral values, grass usage would not de-politicize him or her. But if a person wasn’t already a leftist and didn’t have a strong sense of humanistic moral values, grass usage would tend to turn that person away from political activism and more towards just amoral hedonism and freer sexuality.

Around the same time I showed the paper on Columbia’s IDA ties to Columbia SDS people, I also brought a carbon copy of the paper to the office of Columbia Professor of English Hovde. Professor Hovde had worked with Columbia SDS’s multi-organizational coalition on the anti-class-ranking campaign because he wished to “keep Columbia pure” in relationship to contact with the U.S. war machine. So I figured Professor Hovde and other Columbia faculty members might want to speak out against Columbia’s IDA ties and push the Administration to disaffiliate, before Columbia SDS needed to start an anti-IDA organizing campaign.

“I’ll have to think about this issue, Mr. Friedman, before I decide my position on this,” Hovde replied after I told him what was contained in the Columbia-IDA expose’ I had written, and he had taken a quick glance at the first two pages, before quickly handing the paper back to me.

“My last name is Feldman, not Friedman,” I replied.

“Oh, I beg your pardon. But thanks for telling me about this.”

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