"Citadel of Apathy"?: Student Activism at UNL, September 1968-May 1969

Project Editor:Jillian Gotfredson, History 470: Digital History, Spring 2008

Active or Apathetic?

Lincoln, Nebraska: A Reflection of the Movement on a Different Scale
Public Displays of Activism: from protests to talk-ins
Hyde Park Forum
Students Unite: committees, groups, and unions
Who Protests?
What is Apathy?
National Context: a timeline of student activism on campuses
International Context: a timeline of student activism on campuses
Works Cited

National Context: a timeline of student activism on campuses.

"There were 292 major student protests on 232 college and university campuses in the first six months of 1969...Black recognition was the issue raised more than any other. Issues related to the Vietnam war and the military were raised in only 22% of the protests. Racially integrated protests were uncommon. Violence of any kind occurred in less than one-fourth of the protests" (Levine, 24).

From the ROTC to individual university's hiring policies to the demands of black students to a nation's political leaders, it's clear individuals protested and demonstrated for many different reasons. This national timeline of unrest at a variety of universities shows that while institutions like Columbia and Berkeley are well known to have been havens for activists, colleges all over the United States protested not only to change society, but to change their specific university.

BEFORE and DURING the 1968-1969 school year:


February 8 — — Students protest segregation at a white bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Students light a bonfire in the street, patrolmen arrive to protect firefighters as they put out the fire, tensions rise and a patrolman fires, 3 students are killed and 28 wounded (Bass).

April 23-30 — — COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, SDSers and Afro-American Society members seize campus buildings (Ha ilton Hall, Low Library, Mathematics Hall) to protest the University's affiliation with the Institute for Defense Analysis and plans to construct a gym in Morningside Park (Heineman).

February — — STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, Youth International Party (Yippies) destroy property on the Stony Brook campus (Heineman).

Early October — — SUNY-BUFFALO, 400 students disrupt an appearance by Richard Nixon by chanting "two, four six, eight, we don't want a fascist state" at the City's War Memorial Auditorium (Heineman).

May — — KENT STATE, 50 SDS members and Black United Students disrupt a speech by Hubert Humphrey before walking out (Heineman).

October — — KENT STATE, 200 members of Kent State's SDS go to the University of Akron to disrupt Richard Nixon's speech. The SDSers use the phrases, "Seig Heil" and "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is Gonna Win" (Heineman, 148-149).

Fall — — UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, radicals firebomb the South Hall campus building and state headquarters of the Selective Service (Heineman).

December — — KANSAS STATE, students firebomb the Nichols gymnasium. From December to early 1969, Kansas State SDSers try to set fire to other buildings as the university paper calls them "irrelevant youngsters copying Big Brother on the east coast" (Heineman).


January — — SAN FRANCISCO STATE, militants protest the college's hiring and admissions quotas as SDS and black militants carrie guns and aligned themselves with the Black Panther Party. Radicals strike for 134 days and in January of 1969 450 students are arrested (Heineman).

Early January — — students at the University of Minnesota, Swarthmore College, Brandeis University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois, Wittenberg University, and Wilberforce University boycott or protest for rights of African Americans (United Press International).

January 22 — — UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, Students stage a walk-out to show their support for the creation of a Black Studies department (Miller).

February 2 — — UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: 400 students take over the administration building during a peaceful sit-in to protest hiring policies (Janson, 61).

February 11 — — UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, 1300 students protest in support of demands made by black students ("1,300 March in...," 5).

February 24 — — DOUGLASS COLLEGE, members of the Black Organization of Students take over Conkin Hall for three days to take action against racial problems (especially black admissions) (Rosenzweig).

February 26 — — COLLEGE OF SOUTH JERSEY (Camden), 10 members of the Black Student Unity Movement occupy part of the College Center (Rosenzweig).

February 28 — — In Marshall, Texas student demonstrations shut down Wiley College, a five day sit-in ends at Stillman College in Alabama, 500 student occupation of a building at American University in Washington ends, 350 students from University of Tennessee rally to end dorm curfews for coeds (United Press International, 19).

April 10 — — HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Hundreds of students protest the ROTC around the administration building, 400 policemen swarm the campus, 41 students hurt, 197 arrested (Reinholds).

April 19-20 — — CORNELL UNIVERSITY, around 100 students in the Afro-American Society and Students for a Democratic Society take over Willard Straight Hall the morning after a cross was burned in front of a black female residence hall (Miller).

March 7 — — SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE, students protest an increase in tuition for the third day ("Sarah Lawrence...," 22).

March 20 — — Over 200 students take over Buffalo University's president's office protesting a prison term for an anti-draft protester, 300 students take over the YMCA college in Chicago for seven hours, 50 students protest against Marine recruiters at Holy Cross College in Massachusetts, 100 students stage a sit-in at Nasson College to protest their college merging with another, and 41 students protest in front of Rio Grande College's library ("Rebels seize...," 4).

April1 1 — — SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY, 50 students protested to remove the dean of student affairs in Louisiana ("50 protest at...," 54).

April 10 — — HARVARD UNIVERSITY, 200 students seize a building to protest the ROTC program (Krim, A1).

April 11 — — STANFORD UNIVERSITY, 400 hold a sit in to protest chemical and biological warfare research ("Stanford...," A6).

April 23 — — DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, almost 300 students and faculty take over the administration building protesting ROTC on campus ("300 occupy a...," 30).

May 6 — — PURDUE UNIVERSITY, over 1,300 students protest the Purdue president who wouldn't grant amnesty to arrested students, 299 students were arrested ("Rebels Shift Sit...," 14).

May 20 — — UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, student protesters are doused with tear-gas on Sproul Plaza (Miller).