Friday, April 4, 2014

We Demand!

A black and white photograph of students perched in the open windows of an administrative building, out of which hangs a hand-made banner.In light of recent events, we thought it would be fitting to look back at another era when Parkhurst was the target of student ire.

On April 22, 1969, the Dartmouth chapter of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) issued a set of demands calling on the Trustees to abolish ROTC, provide financial aid to students enrolled in ROTC and terminate military recruiting on campus. The demands were issued as a protest against the war in Vietnam and American exploitation, which SDS members felt the College was complicit in supporting through recruitment and ROTC participation. SDS further stated that they would occupy Parkhurst Hall if their demands were not met by Monday, April 28th.

A list of typed demands.
The administration maintained that they could not terminate the ROTC contract that quickly and that the College did not have the funds to pick up the financial aid for the ROTC members. A student referendum on the issue found that 8.6% of the students wished to retain ROTC on campus, 29.8% agreed with the faculty position (which was essentially termination of ROTC no later than June of 1973), 35% supported the elimination of ROTC as soon as student currently under contract graduated and 24.6% were in favor of immediate termination.

A black and white photograph of a small group of people talking.As threatened, on April 29th SDS proceeded to peacefully occupy Parkhurst for a day (the second such incident at that point). Meanwhile, the College quietly drew up a court injunction to be put into place should the occupiers return. Dissatisfied with the Administration’s response, SDS set another deadline for their demands to be met. When this deadline also passed without a satisfactory outcome, they entered Parkhurst Hall on May 12 and ejected the staff and administrators from the building. While most of the administrators left of their own accord, there was a brief scuffle between students and one of the deans.

A black and white photograph of a dense crowd of people throwing up peace signs.While the protestors spoke via bullhorn to a large crowd of supporters gathered outside, the Administration issued its injunction. As night fell State Police in riot gear moved in and arrested the protesters. The protestors, not all Dartmouth students, were jailed for 30 days and the students among them were suspended from school.

A black and white photograph of a young man being grabbed by a policeman as he throws up a peace sign.
President Dickey’s hardline, by-the-rules approach was in stark contrast to President Kemeny’s response to a similar crisis only a year later:

To view files detailing the incident ask for: President’s Office records, DP-12, box 7199, folder ROTC Controversy—Chronology. Photos can be found in the photo file "Parkhurst Hall Seizure, 1969."

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