UCSC-A Place for Those Caught Up in Computer Science, Molecular Biology & the 60s-70s with a Strong Propensity for Action

Any place that has the Banana Slug as its mascot will either attract or repulse. At the University of California Santa Cruz,  for those who are allured,  there is distinctly a countercultural element, initially signaled by the Banana Slug, that is  better developed as one explores what the campus has to offer.

First, take a look at this listing of the top 10 majors at UCSC:  https://oneclass.com/blog/university-of-california-santa-cruz/200-the-10-most-popular-majors-at-uc-santa-cruz.en.html. Then consider the full list of offerings that extend into the obscure. UCSC is well known for its major in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, but don’t stop there. Further offerings include Applied Physics, Art & Design: Games & Playable Media, Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism, Network and Digital Technology, and Writing.

That’s a bit on the academic side. Yet if your interest is in the 60s and 70s and you have a strong sense of activism, a deep-seated desire for strong social change, and you’re somewhat iconoclastic, not of the mainstream, this is likely a place warranting your consideration.

Housed in the UCSC Special Collections & Archives is The Grateful Dead Archive. The Grateful Dead from 1985-1995 grossed over $130 million, while actively marketing to its core market, the Dead Heads, allowed all who attended their concerts to record the performances. While being very unorthodox, this  proved very successful. A taste of their music can be captured in a small snippet of the lyrics from Sugar Magnolia—one of the Dead’s more popular songs: “She comes skimming through rays of violet/She can wade in a drop of dew…”

The Grateful Dead Archives document the years 1970-1995 through a collection of

·        Business records documenting tours and concerts

·        Posters, artwork merchandising the bands broader commercial efforts

·        Fan art and correspondence

·        Commercially released recordings

·        The band’s library—believe it or not, they had one.

According to Bob Weir, the Grateful Dead lead guitarist: “It seemed to all of us that the stuff really belongs to the community that supported us for all those years. And Santa Cruz seemed the coziest possible home for it.”

Don’t stop your search with the Grateful Dead. The Special Collections & Archives at UCSC contain an 800-volume collection of works by the father of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. Gonzo journalism is an intensely personal style of reporting, which often includes the reporter within portions of the story. Thompson was a countercultural icon, probably best known for his books Hell’s Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  The collection was donated by Eric C. Shoaf, a lifelong Thompson student, who mentioned at the dedication: “I found UCSC to be an institution young enough to accept the collection and to appreciate it for what it represents and it dovetails and augments the Grateful Dead archive.”

On the activism front there is Danny Sheehan’s Romero and Christic Institutes, which are  ‘interfaith, nonprofit law and public policy centers.’ Danny Sheehan graduated from Harvard Law School and Divinity School, and was instrumental in getting the Pentagon Papers published, brought to justice 29 people involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, exposed the 3-Mile Island disaster, and sued and won over $10 million for Karen Silkwood’s estate after her murder. Danny teaches all forms of critical thinking skills along with erudite observations into political science, history and philosophy at UCSC and through his institutes.

As Henry David Thoreau says: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”  It seems that the campus of the Banana Slug is a perfect place to march to whatever music one might hear, especially the Grateful Dead’s.