Higher education and anti-Vietnam war demonstrations - comparing occurrences and administrative responses



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Texas Tech University


Nearly half of American colleges and universities experienced at least one war-related protest during the Vietnam War period. And even though numerous works have been written on the subject of campus unrest, most have involved the incidents at only one school. A study needed to be produced for readers to compare student antiwar activities and administrative responses at several institutions. This work accounts for a few of the more publicized demonstrations as well as some of the lesser known events. It additionally introduces the occurrences at three previously unpublicized schools—Southern Methodist University, Rice University, and Texas Tech University.

The Vietnam War had little effect on college students during the early 1960s. But after President Lyndon Johnson began increasing the number of American troops in Southeast Asia, many students and faculty became more concerned. In 1965, teach-ins, not confrontation, provided impetus for the movement, and in 1966, most students seemed confused about their role in ending the war, so only a few sporadic protests occurred. During 1967 and 1968, however, antiwar students shifted to a more resistant stance, primarily directing their anger against ROTC programs, and Dow Chemical Company and military recruiters being on campus. Then, in 1959, large numbers of students participated in a national Vietnam War Moratorium. But campus antiwar activity reached its zenith in 1970 after the Ohio National Guard killed four Kent State University Students.

America's participation in the Vietnam War created a strained atmosphere on many campuses, forcing university officials to respond to adverse situations. Some of their decisions adequately prevented violent confrontation; others proved disastrous. Accordingly, this dissertation first regards several cases in which antiwar students and administrators clashed; it differentiates between some administrative responses to the demonstrations; and it suggests some guidelines that administrators might consider for attaining peaceable settlements, primarily through better communication.



College administrators -- United States, Peace movements -- United States, Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- United States