Columbia Student Protests

By | Apr 23, 2010

The 1960’s was a time for protest. Most of the protests were against the undeclared War that the United States was fighting in Vietnam. Many things came from these protest including political protest songs, the Summer of Love and the first crusade to save the environment.

Many of the protester were college students with college campuses being one of the places where protest smothered and reached a boiling point. One of the largest campus protest began on April 23rd in 1968 at Columbia University in New York.

It was one of those times when tensions were already high. Just a few weeks before Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis. Students had been prevented to protest at Low Library and they moved to the construction site of a new Gym. The construction of the Gym had already touched off negative sentiment on the campus. The Gym was being built in two levels, with the lower level facing Harlem, stated for use by the black neighborhood and the upper for use by Columbia. This separation was interpreted as segregation.

From the construction area, Mark Rudd, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chairman, moved the students to Hamilton Hall. It was at Hamilton Hall that the students began the week long protest by taking over the Hall. Part of the students demands were for the University to end their associated with the construction of the Gym.

In the early hours of April 30, the New York City Police ended the demonstrations. As many as 150 students were injured with over 700 protesters arrested.

This wasn’t the end of the student protests at Columbia during that semester. There was a second round of protest on May 17-18. This ended with 113 people arrested. The protest did achieved two of their goals when Columbia decided to pull out of their association in construction of the Gym with eventually its construction being scrapped.


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