Good Ol’ Campus: A History of Protest
March 23, 2016
Filed under Features
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On March 26, 1970, Campus writer Micheline Fedyck reported on the first ‘significant’ protest in Middlebury College’s history. During this week some 46 years ago, students gathered outside of Proctor and marched into town protesting the U.S. draft lottery for the Vietnam War that called on men born between 1944 and 1950.
As anti-draft demonstrations were held throughout the nation, some 250 Middlebury College students congregated on a sunlit Proctor terrace to organize the first significant protest in Middlebury’s history involving student entrance into the downtown area.
[Senior student Gary] Rowland stated: “I cannot cooperate in any form with the draft, or allow the draft to drive me away from the country I was born in and a country I wish to serve.”
With posters uplifted and leaflets in hand, the restless draft protesters headed down the hill toward the Municipal Building, home of the one-room local draft office.
Protesters peacefully proceeded toward the destination, offering leaflets to curious onlookers along the way. Chants of ‘Hell no! We won’t go!’ and ‘One-two-three-four, stop the draft and end the war!’ heralded their arrival in advance.
Enthusiasm carried some of the participants up onto the base of the town war memorial. From there a decision to ‘liberate Middlebury Union High School’ was proclaimed. The crowd responded with a cheer of approval and the march proceeded down the center of Route 7.
A small delegation of students had visited the high school earlier in the week, and had talked with Assistant Principal Bert Laris. He had informed them that the distribution of leaflets and the posting of unapproved announcements were not allowed at the school.
Milling around the building and in the inner courtyard chanting ‘Join us, join us,’ students soon discovered an open door. They walked through the corridors of the public school singing ‘All we are saying is give peace a chance.’
Responses to this entry varied. Some teachers invited protesters to enter classrooms in order to explain and discuss their actions. Others hastily locked doors and drew shades.
Tired, but still smiling and buoyed by the enthusiasm of the crowd, protesters embarked upon the last stretch back to campus.