Civil rights activist and Vietnam veteran Harry Bailey returns to college after six years to obtain a master’s degree leading to a teaching certificate. Despite his conflicts with computer-oriented department chairman Wilhunt, who opposes Harry’s romantic dedication to teaching, Harry is assigned to teach remedial English. Although black militant Ellis presses Harry to participate in student protests, he refuses. Among Harry’s sexual partners are his students, black coeds, and his steady girl friend Jan. Upon enlisting in the marines Harry’s former friend Nick reveals to Wilhunt that he has taken Harry’s exams, thereby jeopardizing the graduate student’s academic future. When riots break out on campus Harry is recruited as an unwilling student liaison by college president Vandenburg. He later submits to an oral examination before a professorial panel. During the test Harry disputes an examiner’s homosexual interpretation of The Great Gatsby , in refutation dancing obscenely on the seminar table, denouncing the panel, and passionately kissing the pedant. Having thus ended his academic career, Harry rushes into the corridor, where he joins Ellis and Jan in a student riot.