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October 25, 1996 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-25

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 25, 1996

By Katie Wa
Tdysr whiry Staff Repor
Today's. admninistrators were the protesters of the 1960's

icture this: A top University
administrator sitting on the
benches in Regents' Plaza
listening to a student's
plan to blow up the
administration building
with a bomb.
The year was 1968.
The fashion trend was
wearing crocheted over-
the knee stockings and
short skirts. And the song
I'm a Believer" by the
Monkees lit up the air-
waves, a fitting title to
describe the attitude of young
college students during this time.
The man sitting at Regents' Plaza talk-
ing about blowing up the administration
building is now an administrator himself.
Only in 1968, Walter Harrison wasn't the
vice president for University relations.
He was a 23-year-old English graduate
student, who opposed the war, but did
not oppose his country.
"I believe the years 1966-72 were the most
traumatic years of my life because the schizo-
phrenia 1 was feeling mirrored the national
schizophrenia of those years," Harrison said.
Although decades have come and gone since
the turbulent '60s, the chants and the memories
of the teach-ins and protests that took place lay
permanently in the foundation of the University.
Into the Streets
As bombs continued to rain over Vietnam,
thousands of miles across the Pacific, another
war was raging on college campuses across the
country from Kent State University to Berkeley
and to Ann Arbor.
For many students, the '60s was a time to
challenge the status quo and to protest a war
they viewed as senseless. Sit-ins, teach-ins and
protests against the war and against racial seg-
regation became common at the University, and
the birth of the
Students for a
Democratic Society
(SDS) at the W "US
University symbol-
ized a nationwide
shift in student radi-
calism against the
war in Vietnam.
In the fall of 1965,
the Vietnam War_

Photo courtesy) of BENT LEYLIBRAi
Thousands of students line the corridors of Angell and Mason halls on March 24, 1965, during an all-night teach-in. Students actively protested U.S.
involvement in the Vietnam War through protests, riots and peaceful rallies throughout the 1960s.

University Avenue in the early half of the
Bryant said as students and police officers
clashed between South Forest Avenue and East
University Avenue, the officers assaulted and
pelted canisters of tear gas at the protesters. As
students retreated down South University
Avenue and to the
Diag, police officers
:M followed, spraying tear

that weekend."
Harrison said he then became involved in
civil rights issues and the anti-war movement.
The year 1968 was a pivotal year in American
history, marked by the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. President
Johnson also announced that spring that he would
not seek re-election, and in August anti-war
demonstrators violently clashed with the Chicago
police at that year's Democratic convention.
At Columbia University in New York, students
managed to shut down the entire university when
students occupied the administration building and
many of the other buildings on campus.
University of Michigan Law School Prof.
Sam Gross, an undergraduate student at
Columbia in 1968, said the shutdown of the
University was the culmination of frustration
with the war and the administration's attitude
toward students.
"The view of the administration was that the
students were not important," Gross said. "The

started becoming a
much more important
focus for students as
President Johnson
continued to increase
the deployment of
American troops.
On Oct. 15, 1965,
the University's
Homecoming parade
erupted into violence
as a crowd destroyed
a float traveling down
South University
Avenue. Thirty-nine
students were arrest-
ed that day for sitting-
in at the Selective
Service office down-
"What happened
was that you had a
war in Vietnam and a
war raging here at
home," said Bunyan
Bryant, now a School
of Natural Resources
professor. "It was
incredible. It was a
daze of rage, a daze

r}n } ' -ire
- .r 'EM1
'41. F: .


Several students
knocked on the door of
University President
Robben Fleming's
house on South
University Avenue,
pleading for help. As
Fleming was talking
with the students, a
police officer chasing
a protester running
toward the house acci-
dentally sprayed him
with tear gas.
Bryant said Fleming
marched down to the
corner of South
University and East
University avenues,
where he engaged in a
heated confrontation
with the sheriff of the
police force. Fleming
then told the students to
go home because the
protest was senseless.
"The students
dropped their rocks
and faded away into
the tear gas, leaving
behind blood on the
street, and the stench
of tear gas was heavy,"
Bryant said.
Meanwhile, hun-
dreds of miles away at

Walter Harrison, now vice president for
University relations, discussed blowing up
University buildings in 1968 when he was
a graduate student here.
"I believe the years of
1966-72 were the
most traumatic years
of my life. "
- Walter Harrison
VP for University relations

dean at the time was
unimaginable to con-
ceive of a University
without students."'
As students contin-
ued to rally against
the war in Vietnam,
the struggle for civil
rights also continued.
In spring 1968,
Harrison and other
students took over
the Trinity College
administration build-
ing to demand that
the school admit
more black students.
The students sat in
the building all night
and staged an
impromptu teach-in
about civil rights.
"The next morn-
ing, we were all
tired," Harrison said.
"But I specifically
remember being
hoisted out of the
administration build-
ing to go to ROTC
class the next day
because we couldn't
cut class."
Harrison had the
unusual distinction of
being an undergradu-
ate in both the
Reserve Officer
Training Corps and

of confusion, a daze of

excitement. You could go through 15 feelings
in one day."
Bryant, who was a graduate student in the
School of Education in the '60s, described the
conflict in Vietnam as a senseless war.
"You had people who were outraged at the
slaughter and senseless killing and we knew we
had to stop that war by any means possible,"
Bryant said.
Bryant said one of the most memorable
protests he took part in was a violent confronta-
tion that took place between students and the
Ann Arbor Police Department on South

Trinity College in Connecticut, Harrison, in his
first year at the college, was just getting his feet
wet in student activism.
Harrison, who received his undergraduate
degree from Trinity, initially became a politi-
cal activist in the fall of 1964, when he marched
for the right to have alcohol in the dormitories.
The college's decision to outlaw alcohol in dor-
mitories prompted a number of students, includ-
ing Harrison, to protest.
"We all gathered around a statue outside and
decided to march to the state capitol," Harrison
said. "A New York Times photographer took a
photograph of me and it appeared in the paper

During the March 24, 1965 teach-In, students also crowded the Diag, bringing messages of peace.

of Tonkini March 2, 1966; Operation
tuthorizing the Rolling Thunder, a sus-
o assst K ~ twinied air war against
ootve ntions$. North Vietnam, begins;

Jan. 31, 1968: Tet Offensive April 4, 1968: Martin Luther
- North Vietnamese launch a King Jr. assassinated in
strong offensive attack on Memphis, Tenn. Riots spark
major cities in South Vietnam, throughout the country.

March 24, 1965: 3,000 stu-
dents pack Angell and Mason
halls for an allnight teach-in
to protest the Vietnam War.

Oct. 15, 1965: Homecoming parade
erupts into violence as a crowd
destroys a float; 39 students and
faculty are later arrested at a sit-in.

Nov. 30, 1966: Protesting the adminis-
tration for sending grades to the
Selective Service, 1,500 students stage
a sit-in at the administration building.

1965 teach-in electrified campus, students
More than 3,000 students and faculty members 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., the halls were jammed. It was a said. "Some people thought it was a good time
-11- - 11 --1+L trat* *1 ~ 4z, - ,,%I ~rhnirt teaiiicc ac " thrsn wa lls.xht1'

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