THIS WEEK IN AMHERST HISTORY: April 21, 1972--Protesting Vietnam

Fred Sperling ’75, who preached the necessity for immediate strike action, told the crowd, “This is not the time for the politics of cynicism or resignation. No action of protest or obscenity can match the ugliness of the war in Southeast Asia.”

Eric Spivack ’71, a member of the Student Mobilization Committee, discussed the details of shuttling people to and from an anti-war march in New York City that weekend. Bill Graves ’74 revealed a plan to hold a silent 24-hour vigil in front of Frost Library around a coffin draped in black.

John Treat ’75 proposed participation in a plan crafted by students from other colleges to commit civil disobedience at the Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts in an effort to close down the base. Ed Rosenthal ’73 presented the idea of students abstaining from eating at Valentine for five days, informing the students that the College Treasurer had agreed to make equivalent food donations to nearby disadvantaged communities. Within days of the proposal, 200 students signed up to participate.

Finally, Ken Hoxsie ’72 and Charles Trueheart ’73 presented their proposal to the College’s dean of students to grant an extension on students’ second semester work until Sept. 1.

After this preliminary meeting, on the first day of the proposed two-day strike, class attendance at Amherst ranged from 10 to 60 percent. Several professors further supported students’ efforts by canceling class.

In light of student involvement and concern, Dean of the Faculty Prosser Gifford commented, “I hope that the next two days will encourage constructive concern and commitment in opposition to a brutal war which has now again been senselessly extended.”

-Lauren Schmale