Diverse Reactions: Campus Protest, Student Unrest, and Radical Thought at Western Washington State College, 1965-1970
The nation’s legacy of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s is one of defiance, protest, discord, and tumult. The U.S. involvement in Cambodia and the unpopular war in Vietnam led to an eruption of protest movements, largely held on college campuses across the nation. Western was not immune to these effects. With an astonishing 14 campus protest in the 1969-1970 academic year, Western Washington State College proved itself to be a politically active campus, rife with student unrest. Students from diverse backgrounds came together to speak out on a wide range of issues, either as individuals or student groups – such as Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Student Union, and Students for Peace. Anti-hitchhiking laws, the Vietnam War, the Kent State shooting, and ethnic diversity were all issues that Western students rallied around. Amid the chaos and often radical rhetoric, campus staff and faculty were faced with dilemmas on how to manage the conflict and disruption. College president, Jerry Flora, had the difficult task of leading the school through one of the most difficult eras in 20th Century U.S. history. Ultimately, Flora’s lenient consideration for student led protests, teach-ins, sit-ins, and other demonstrations quelled any potential violence that may have occurred on campus, as was experienced by other colleges and universities at the time.
This display features duplicate copies of archival records from Western Washington University Libraries’ Heritage Resources programs. Heritage Resources comprises the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives. For more information about these programs or to view their collections, please send an email to Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu . You may also check out this handy research guide for additional resources on the history and impact of student movements.