Back in 1971, when the first Business Tomorrow conference of students and industry leaders was held, there was also a counter-conference. It is still referred to as the B260 conference after the hotel room in which an allnight confrontation between the groups took place.
Times have changed since then. What began in the heyday of campus unrest as an attempt to reestablish communication between antagonists, has turned into - if not a lovefest - at least a respectful forum.
On the second of three days of meetings at Stouffers's National Center Hotel in Arlington, the 420 students, academics and businessmen listened to speakers ranging from Louis Laun, former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration, to Harry E. Figgie, Jr., who told how he put together the multimillion dollar manufacturing conglomerate, A-T-O, Inc.
In the past, heated debates between consumer advocate Ralph Nader, economist Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley, Jr. were heard. Yesterday both the speeches and the questions in the plenary session were subdued.
Bill Goldberg, an employee of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., attended the first conference while an undergraduate at Princeton University. Now a trustee of the Prince-based Foundation for Student Communication which sponsors the conferences, he discussed present and past student attitudes toward business.
"Now, there is less straight criticism, more attempt at intelligent discussion," he said. "There is a lot of talk about how long-range or philosophical subjects like equal employment opportunities, but also a lot of practical talk about how the law functions."
He said the original counter-conference was formed because radicals felt the delegates were not representative of 1971 college students, having been selected by business school deans.