--from the Pace Press, Friday May 15, 1970
This article appeared in the Pace College student newspaper. It describes the nationwide student strike of college and high school students who boycotted classes to protest President Nixon's expansion of U.S. military activity into Cambodia and the killing of four students at Kent State University.
College newspapers and what was known as the "underground" press played an important role in the antiwar, civil rights, and feminist movements of the 1960s by transmitting information and ideas among campuses around the country. The entire article appears below.
The nation's largest-ever student strike in its first week affected 441 colleges and universities and shut down almost 250 of them, as well as the entire California public education system.
More than one million students, faculty members, and administrative staff members struck on the week of May 4 over the government invasion of Cambodia, the continuing war against the people of Southeast Asia, the murders of four students at Kent State University in Ohio by National Guardsmen, and, on many campuses, over government repression of political dissidents such as the Black Panther Party.
There was violence coast to coast and government paranoia and repression which brought National Guardsmen to dozens of campuses and caused panicked governors to cancel their National Republican Governor's conference this past weekend.
R.O.T.C. Main Target
Much of the violence was of the new breed of destroying specific targets. Students and other strikers set ablaze R.O.T.C. buildings in a dozen states and in New York smashed an Atomic Energy Computer.
Government response to the strike included National Guardsmen murdering four students at Kent State University, Guardsmen bayonetting seven students and four newsmen at the University of New Mexico, police using birdshot to break up rallies at State University of New York at Buffalo, and police and Guardsmen carrying loaded weapons onto campuses across the country.
In angry response to government-police repression and in angry militance over the invasion of Cambodia, bombing of North Vietnam, continuation of the war in Vietnam, and growing repression of the Black Panther Party, the strike snowballed during the week. Strikers are attempting to organize their communities to create a general strike in the nation, and even a New Jersey draft board has gone on strike.
A national strike steering committee is meeting May 13-15 at Yale University to coordinate efforts to build the strike. Every campus on strike has been asked to send two delegates to Yale, where the first strike began three weeks ago.
At Princeton, where the strike has been 100 per cent effective, a national anti-draft conference has been called for May 19-21. The meeting is open to the public and is sponsored by the Union for National Draft Opposition (UNDO). In the past week, more than 6,000 draft cards have been turned into the Union with a pledge of more than 1500 to come. Several draft cards also were turned in and burned at the Washington Mobilization May 9.
Dozens of the schools on strike have been shut down for the rest of the academic term, although students are demanding that the campuses remain open for students to hold teach-ins and to do community organizing and strike spreading work.
(This cartoon appeared in the Pace Press on May 15, 1970.)
Run-down of Events
Around the nation, a sample run-down of strike events:
ROTC buildings were destroyed by fire at the University of Kentucky, Kent State, Washington University in St. Louis (where students two months earlier had burned the other ROTC building), and Case-Western Reserve Cleveland; Tulane ROTC buildings were firebombed causing major damage at Ohio State and Ohio University; ROTC buildings were attacked or occupied at the University of Nebraska, University of Virginia, Western Illinois, and Central Michigan. Faculty at St. Louis University and Rutgers this week voted ROTC off campus.
At least nine buildings have been firebombed at the University of Wisconsin, and administration buildings have been burned at Colorado State and SUNY Albany. At New York University 2,000 students held a $100,000 atomic energy commission computer for ransom.
At the University of Iowa students burned a classroom building; several fires were set at East Carolina University in Greenville. Student protesters also set fires at the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota at Duluth, Valparaiso College in Indiana, the State University of New York at New Paltz, Marquette University, and Concordia Teachers College in Illinois.
Most of the fires were aimed at the military on campus and the university's complicity with the government and military. Strike leaders on most campuses have asked that the strike not be aimed at the campuses per se but against the government oppressors. Mammoth demonstrations against the war and in support of the strike have been held in San Diego, Los Angeles, Minneapolis (40,000) and New York, as well as in Washington where almost 100,000 rallied. Over 4,000 demonstrated in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleges in South Carolina experienced their first campus violence ever as support grew for the strike last week.
The national strike communications center at Brandeis University has set up a ham radio network which is sending strike information to 20 campuses.
The strike has been endorsed by the Student National Education Association and the student-teacher and teaching assistants division of the National Education Association. The government's Cambodia policy also has been blasted by such varied groups as the United Auto Workers and the Students of International Affairs Action Committee, an association of students of international politics and government.
At Northwestern University May 7, 5,000 persons met and voted unanimously to secede from the United States. They wrote a Declaration of Independence and set up customs stations on the major highway in Evanston, letting through only residents. Police re-routed traffic.
On several campuses in major cities traffic blockades have brought rush hour traffic to a halt. Students in New York talked of a statewide traffic blockage, as students at Albany and Buffalo blocked major roads. In Washington, police used tear gas to disperse 2,000 students at American University who were leafletting cars and blocking rush hour traffic into the safe, white suburbs.
Eulogy services were held nationwide in memory of the four students murdered by Guardsmen at Kent State. (The four students were Allison Krause, 19; Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20; Jeffrey Miller, 19; and Wiliam K. Schroeder, 19). In Boston, at a gathering of 20,000, Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent ordered the flag lowered to half staff in honor of the Kent State 4.
High school students struck in New York, and by Friday May 8 every high school in the city was affected. There were also high school strikes in Washington and other cities.
Schools in the South and Midwest which had never experienced a strike or unrest before experienced them. The University of Idaho went on strike, and the mayor of the college town of Idaho supported it. The University of North Dakota struck, and the student government sent $1000 worth of buses to Washington for the May 9 mobilization. Three colleges in Georgia struck, as did some predominantly black colleges such as Delaware State.
Governor Ronald Reagan of California closed down the nine campuses of the University of California and almost 140 more state-subsidized schools.
National Guardsmen occupied campuses in Ohio, Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin, and South Carolina, to list only a few of the most publicized states.
The strike is in its second week now, with some campuses shut down for the rest of the term and others struggling to keep open. Students are talking in terms of keeping the campuses open but without business as usual. Community organizing and spreading the strike are goals of the strikers, whose biggest obstacle may be the approaching summer when most students will leave the campuses.
Already a number of distinguished scholars have called for building toward a massive fall strike, if the war is not ended. Led by MIT Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky and a group of Berkeley professors, the idea is seeking support nationwide.
At the moment, most strikers are still strying to build this spring's strike, which began with a call by students at a rally in New Haven to support the Black Panther Party May 2 and immediately after Nixon's announcement of his Cambodian invasion. And many of the strikers, led by the Student Mobilization Committee, are talking in terms of building toward a massive show of strength on Memorial Day, May 30. However, as June grows closer, more and more strikers will decide the strike against the government policies must be continued and expanded in the fall.