Author: Robert Hadad-Zlokower
Published: April 04, 2008
Last month's anti-war protest was reminiscent of the Vietnam War era,
when campus community members held their signs high and took it to the streets.
In 1966, professor Robert Sterling and nearly 200 students and
faculty sat daily under the flagpole to mourn the dead in Vietnam. In
addition, the United Student Government made formal declarations of
their stances against foreign policies and sent letters to
politicians urging for action on their behalf.
Tony Preus, professor of philosophy and master of
College-in-the-Woods has worked on campus since 1964. He remembers
that with the draft, sometimes people would "disappear from campus."
It spurred protest against the war and recruiters on campus and in town.
"It was a major issue for a lot of people," he said.
Marcia Sikowitz, '73, remembers marching on the Vestal Parkway in a
rally that seemed to last "miles and miles," she said. The march was
peaceful and she doesn't remember seeing any arrests.
"We felt empowered that it would make a difference," she said. "Even
in terms of ending the war."
Armed with the feeling they could change the world, students and
faculty joined ranks and rallied together. Faculty provided food and
even marshaled the walk.
"It felt great to be part of the campus community and to come
together," she said.
OPENING THE VAULTS
Pipe Dream opened up its archives this week to take a look at campus
anti-Vietnam war demonstrations.
March 29, 1966: Campus Rally and Binghamton Vigil Display Discontent
With Viet Policy
More than 250 students rallied in front of the University Union,
which was referred to as the Student Center at the time, against the
war in Vietnam on Saturday, March 27.
About half of the demonstrators continued the protest Downtown with a
vigil in front of the Court House afterward. The protesters started
the vigil with 10 minutes of silence, and afterward some picketed
while others handed out literature. Two professors and a local
reverend spoke at the vigil.
May 24, 1966: Viet War Meets Faculty Disfavor
It wasn't only students who expressed opposition against the Vietnam
situation. More than 100 faculty and administration members responded
to a survey conducted by The Colonial News, what Pipe Dream was
referred to before it changed its name in 1969.
The survey was sent to 300 people, and of the 114 responses received,
about 65 percent of those polled expressed dissatisfaction with the
Johnson administration's conduct of the situation in Vietnam. More
than 70 percent said they were opposed to the bombing of the cities
of North Vietnam, and another 77 percent said they were not in favor
of sending U.S. troops into the area. Attitudes on a fast withdrawal
of troops were mixed.
Dec. 13, 1966: Harpur Students Denounce Johnson War Policy
About 200 students attended and faculty spoke Dec. 10 at a rally
outside the Student Center. Edward Wilson, associate professor of art
said he saw "little distinction between international war and
"The ideas of war and profiteering are synonymous," he added.
The same day, up to 90 demonstrators picketed the Binghamton Court
House chanting "Hey hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" and
"Peace … Now!"
Though the picketing was peaceful, demonstrators were
counter-protested by about half a dozen members of the right-wing
Young Americans for Freedom. Police officers ordered YAF to put out
the fire which they had set on the court-house steps to burn a
National Liberation Front flag.
Nov. 11, 1969: How to Fight Against the War
The Colonial News previewed the week-long mobilization of campus in a
series of battles against the big battle: the Vietnam War.
An anti-war GI was set to speak at the Veteran's of Foreign Wars
Parade on Veteran's Day and anti-war leaflets were to be distributed
among the crowd and throughout campus. Students planned on marching
to a faculty senate meeting to demand action be taken against the war.
Two days later, students planned to leaflet late night shoppers at
Vestal Plaza and Downtown Binghamton, strike classes as a part of
national student strike day and march to the Administration Building
to put an Anti-war Banner on it. Harpur College planned on sending at
least 1,100 people that weekend to a march on Washington.
SUNY Albany students held a Solidarity Day to show their support for
SUNY Binghamton's attempts to get recruiters off campus.
November 21, 1969: Goodell Cautions Against Immediate Withdrawal
Sen. Charles Goodell (R-NY) spoke to 1,500 students on campus on Nov.
17 in an effort to spread awareness and support as he called for the
withdrawal of U.S. troops in Vietnam by December of the following year.
Students spoke to the senator in a question and answer session
afterward, and the crowd was largely supportive of the speech,
holding signs that read, "Bring our brothers home now."