Campus Unrest

.. was not what was best for the United States as it affected everyone in one way or another. Students were affected through their education, laborers in the steel mills were affected as the government prevented them from walking out on the job in order to maintain production, and the entire country was damaged as billions of dollars were removed from the national budget in order to fund the efforts overseas(“What” 4-5). A turning point of the anti-war movement occurred in November of 1969. The New Mobilization to End the War, otherwise know as the “Mobe”, proved to have a turnout of nearly a 500,000 people, the biggest crowd ever to gather in the United States in order to “ignite a political shift” (Wells 334). In an article entitled “The Mobe: High Noon for the Anti-War Movement”, a student at the University of Chicago recounted his experience as an active participant in this infamous protest.

His words represented the thoughts and actions of many young adults in the American home front during the Vietnam War (“Mobe” 3-4). He described his arrival, along with countless other students, on a bus to Washington D.C. as absolutely unbelievable. People packed the streets forming a crowd that appeared as if it went on for miles and miles. He soon learned that one group had recently been pacing back and forth at Arlington Cemetery, bearing candles and screaming out the names of United States soldiers who had lost their lives so far in battle (Wells 391). A second group known as the Weathermen was a part of the Students for a Democratic Society.

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These protesters made the decision to incorporate acts of violence in their demonstrations. They illegally stampeded the embassy of South Vietnam and upon doing so were sprayed with tear gas by police officials. In response to the halt of their actions, the Weathermen suddenly became violently out of control, shattering glass and flaming trash cans (“Mobe” 3-4). Hearing these reports, the author of this article said he claimed to be filled with excitement at the possibility of witnessing or even participating in such events. He then started off to join the march down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House.

Along with other protesters he proceeded to yell profane chants such as, “1 , 2, 3, 4, we don’t want your [email protected]#*@# war.” Nearing the final leg of their march, the protesters were said to have seen John Mitchell, the Attorney General, and attacked him, hurling trash and debris in his direction. Police responded to this sudden violence with the release of massive amounts of tear gas. The student recounting this event remembered thinking that surely the American government would be forced to react to this outrage of events; however, his hopes proved to be no more than that (“Mobe” 4-6). The primary protest against the war in Vietnam occurred in April, 1965. This demonstration was organized by the Students for a Democratic Society.

They advocated equality for all races and a breakdown of the nuclear inventions. This protest included 20,000 young adults that marched in order to show the government the viewpoints of the majority of their generation who were opposed to the Vietnam War (“Vietnam” 2). Although collegiate opposition to the Vietnam War was first expressed through nonviolent manners as with the SDS, students soon realized that their voices, even though the government heard them, were not instigating the extreme change they had hoped for in what was going on overseas. Many decided that further action needed to be taken. They could not give up their efforts when their opinions had already been made known, so protests soon began to display much violence.

What had once started as peaceful efforts soon took a turn for the worst (“Rise” 6). One college in particular where opposition to the war in Vietnam was made very apparent was Kent State. On May 1, 1970, a group of students in a riot burned down the ROTC building on campus. After this, Governor John Rhodes of Ohio ordered the National Guard to the Campus. On May 4, The Ohio National Guard opened fire on the demonstrators. The National Guard had been ordered to leave two days earlier, but a large protest had begun about the United States’ invasion of Cambodia and about the guards being on the campus, so the guards stayed put. The guardsmen were ordered into riot formation and some of the demonstrators began throwing rocks at them.

A pistol shot was heard, and the guards opened fire at the crowd. The shooting lasted for thirteen seconds, and in that time, four people were killed and nine others were wounded (Dunnigan 264). The Kent State killings sparked protests across the country. More than four hundred universities and colleges shut down as students and professors staged strikes, and nearly a hundred thousand demonstrators marched on Washington Avenue, encircling the White House and other government buildings (Karnow 89). Another of the major demonstrations expressing unrest on college campuses during the Vietnam War took place in 1970 at Jackson State College.

This Mississippi school was brought into the spotlight in May of that year as students held demonstrations protesting racial and civil inequalities and the recent killings of students at Kent State University. During this riot, fires were lit across campus and a truck was flipped over. When firefighters determined that they could not calm the riot alone, they phoned for police assistance. Around seventy-five officers were dispatched to the scene at Jackson State loaded with ammunition and ready to take any action necessary to put the violent protests to a halt (“Jackson”1-2). The police made efforts to enter both male and female dormitories in order to help put out the fires, but students formed a blockade and refused to let them through.

Within minutes police officers began firing shots into the crowd. In the end the lives of around fifteen students were taken that day as a result of police shootings, and many other young people were badly injured. Following this vicious incident, Mississippi state police refused to comment that they had in fact played a major role in the violent retaliation at Jackson State that day (“Jackson” 1-2). The following June, President Nixon responded when he called for the Commission on Campus Unrest. Several hearings were held concerning the turmoil at Jackson State, but despite the testimonies of faculty and students at the school, no one was prosecuted for the damaged and lost lives.

Since nothing was done to punish the police officers, the Jackson City Council decided they would block off Lynch Street to automobile traffic. A memorial plaza, the Gibbs-Green Plaza, was constructed in honor of the lives taken at the Jackson State riots (“Jackson” 1-2). The unrest on college campuses during the 1960s was one of the drastic results of the United States getting involved in the war in Vietnam. Students held great opposition to the war because they believed that the U.S. was power hungry and greedy, looking out only for their best interest and forgetting the liberties of the Vietnamese people. This major aversion was expressed through changes in clothing and behavior, but much more importantly through both violent and nonviolent demonstrations.

American universities nationwide reaped the effects of the Vietnam war as students decided they would not longer be indifferent but instead freely proclaim their viewpoints through words and actions. History Essays.


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