1968: Columbia in Crisis

The Bust > "Dear President Kirk..."

Letter from Andrew Cordier to Grayson Kirk

Letter to Grayson Kirk from Andrew Cordier, April 29, 1968 in support of Kirk's actions, from the man who would eventuallyreplace him as president of Columbia University.

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After the April 30 police bust, President Kirk received several thousand letters from parents, students, alumni, and members of the general public. The majority of letter-writers supported his decision to call in the New York Police Department to clear the occupied buildings. A smaller number of correspondents expressed dismay at the President’s decision, and were particularly critical of the NYPD’s violent tactics. As of August 16, 1968, the Office of the President reported receiving 4,993 letters – 4,082 in support of the administration’s decision, and 911 against.

Letter from S.A. Barbour of Roanoke, VA to Kirk

Letter from S.A. Barbour of Roanoke, VA, to President Grayson Kirk, April 30, 1968.

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Barbour endorses Kirk's decision to use the NYPD to clear the campus. 

Letter to Kirk from James K. Bishop

Letter from James K. Bishop to President Grayson Kirk, April 30, 1968.

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"I am a young adult and attended college myself sometimes working as many as five different jobs to earn enough to pay my way through.  My wife worked also for 3 years and we were always grateful to have the opportunity to attend college….If the students do not want to get an education let them drop out and if they cause trouble it is up to you to drop them out. I have talked to many persons and they feel similar to myself. Please do not let us down and give in. These students have to be punished and we are counting on you."

Letter to Kirk from Mrs. Carrie Neftzger

Letter from Carrie Neftzger to President Grayson Kirk, May 14, 1968

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"Your troubles are not from sincere students wanting some improvements to curriculum but a planned disorder the Communists have set up all over to disrupt the nation.Every teacher that sided with those students causing the riots should be fired pronto, and every student expelled forever."

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