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July 6, 1970

Student Activism

JAMA. 1970;213(1):117-118. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170270057014

Students who wore raccoon coats and bright yellow slickers decorated with John Held, Jr., cartoons during the Roaring Twenties never expected to see students—especially medical students— wearing long hair and sporting mustaches or beards. Equally unexpected was the turn to activism that prevails in most medical schools today.

Though unexpected, the changes now observable should not be surprising. Youth is a time of exuberance, of sartorial self-expression, of rebellion. Exhibition of these characteristics varies with the times, is rarely expected by the older generation, and is sometimes misinterpreted or misunderstood. As regards medical student activism, such misinterpretation or misunderstanding is unfortunate and can be dangerous.

The October 1969 issue of The Pharos, the quarterly publication of the elite Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, was devoted entirely to a symposium on medical student activism. Among the nine authors, only one was a medical student —a fact lamented both by Glaser,