Lois West (1982)

Retired from Florida International University

Berkeley was the natural place for me after a decade: first as radical community organizer Colorado and Iowa; then as a teacher in an African-American inner city public school in Los Angeles, finally, as an early women's studies graduate and women's public policy wonk in Washington, D.C. We published the first study on military family violence at the Center for Women Policy Studies thanks to support from the Carter Administration.

Berkeley in the 1980s offered a good antidote to the Reagan Administration. There was the sense of intellectual excellence, maintaining high standards, and creating social change. This was the height of political organizing for various causes: against apartheid in South Africa, for the U.N. Women's Decade, and the graduate student union. University funding and support from faculty gave me the cultural capital to pursue studies on militant labor in the Philippines in the 1980s (Militant Labor in the Philippines, Temple University Press 1997), and cross-cultural feminist social movement organizations (Feminist Nationalism Ed. Routledge 1997.

The Berkeley state of mind is also a bubble: a center of intellectual narcissism, radical parochialism, and social hypocrisies. A male sociologist told me to forget about pursuing family life because to dedicate oneself to the sociologists calling was a full-time endeavor (unless, of course, one had a wife). Later, in the early 1990s, I was proud to have sociologist Jim Stockinger as my son's pre-school teacher, demonstrating the effects of Berkeley sociology even on small children!

The world outside Berkeley is another story. In my present position, Florida's salary compression means I am an associate professor making less than a beginning assistant professor at most universities Sabbaticals are competitions among a privileged few so I have never had one. Governor Bush dismantled the state Board of Regents and now they fight over which businessmen at what level will run the schools. I daily dream of switching careers. However, I was privileged to be a part of the Berkeley Experience, and am very grateful to everyone I knew while there.

Dissertation Title: 
Political Unionism, Development and Democratization in the Philippines
Dissertation Book Title: 
Militant labor in the Philippines
Philadelphia