1968: Columbia in Crisis

Causes > Recruiting on Campus and Demonstration Restrictions

Marine Corps Recruiting Protests

Protest outside Hamilton Hall against Marine Corps recruiting on campus, April 21, 1967.

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Student demonstrations on Columbia’s campus date back to the College’s earliest years, but escalated during the late 1960s. In February 1967, eighteen members of SDS staged Columbia’s first sit-in in Dodge Hall - in protest of CIA recruitment on campus. Still other demonstrations centered around opposition to the University’s submission of student class rankings to Selective Service Boards, military recruitment on campus, and University involvement in the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA).



"Kirk Bans Pickets in CU Buildings"

Columbia Daily Spectator article: "Kirk Bans Pickets in CU Buildings," September 25, 1967

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On April 21, 1967 the first student-to-student clash erupted when 500 students favoring the policy of open recruitment on campus confronted 800 anti-recruitment demonstrators. Student disruption of military recruiters prompted University President Grayson Kirk to issue a ban against picketing and demonstrations inside all University buildings as of September 1967.



Letter from Associate Dean Platt to student Ted Gold

Letter from Associate Dean, Alex B. Platt to Columbia College student, Ted Gold, April 5, 1968.

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In March 1968, SDS defied this policy, staging a demonstration inside Low Library demanding Columbia’s resignation from IDA.  Despite limited enforcement of his ban on indoor demonstrations prior to this event, President Kirk placed six of the 150 anti-war student activists – all SDS leaders later known as the “IDA Six” – on disciplinary probation. One of the principal demands that SDS promoted at the April 23rd Sun Dial rally was amnesty for the “IDA Six.”

Live Music ROTC circular

Circular:  "Live Music, ROTC, Food, ROTC, Theater, ROTC"

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