History of Resistance at UNH

More to come….

Sept. 22 1908 – Students hold a meeting to protest the recent set of rules adopted by the University to have regulations for members of the Basketball team. Members of the team were now no longer aloud to be failing two or more classes.

May 2, 1912 – The sophomore class holds a strike to protest the University’s actions of suspending one student, William, Brackett, who was suspended for ringing the fire bell when there wasn’t a fire to distract the freshmen class during a day of interclass rivalry games. The sophomores insisted that Brackett acted on behalf of the entire sophomore class. Soon after the freshmen and junior classes joined in on the strike as well, the senior class sent a letter of condemnation to the President and Administration. The students were threatened with expulsion if they did not return to class by May 7.

May 6, 1912 – Brackett’s punishment was reduced to two weeks suspension and all charges are dismissed for the striking students. Victory for the students!

1912 – The first emergence of clubs on campus devoted entirely to supporting one candidate or the other in the upcoming presidential election between Roosevelt and Taft.

1917 – Women on campus organize a chapter of the National College Equal Suffrage League (19th Ammendment is passed in 1920)

February 1919 –  Fairchild Hall becomes the first dormitory to be allowed to have, and be run by, a student government, with representatives on each floor.

Spring 1934 – The Campus Progressive Club sends delegates to an anti-war conference at Smith College.

Spring 1934 – Two sophomore students canvass student sentiment against compulsory (mandatory participation) ROTC on campus.

Spring 1934 – Members of the Progressive Club form a new organization called the Student League for Industrial Democracy.

June 1934 – The Board of Trustees votes that cases of “so called conscientious objection” should be officially referred to President Lewis. That Fall, four students were reported as excused from ROTC.

April 1935 – Nearly all students cut their eleven o’clock classes one day to attend a “strike against war” rally in the gymnasium.

September 1941 – Headline in The New Hampshire states “Durham Pacifists Hold Wild Session Over Nonviolence.”

1944 – Clara Knight is elected to be the first female student editor of the The Granite.

February 26, 1947 – Students form the Liberal Club on campus.

October 7, 1947 – Former Vice President Henry Wallace speaks to an overflow crowd of 2,500 students in the Field House. Wallace was considered “dangerously radical” despite his former job, and had been banned to speak at other colleges in the past. He was brought to campus by a newly formed group called the Student Committee on Lectures and Concerts, and the event was heavily opposed by the University Administration. The Manchester Union Leader wrote that, “No cheap Nazi demagogue, no cheap Italian Fascist ranting from a minor balcony in a provincial town in Italy, no Huey Long at his worst, ever harangued audiences and fed them so much plausible poison as did Henry Wallace.”

Fall 1948 – English Professor G. Harris Daggett is denied his request to allow the organization Progressive Citizens of America (now Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party) to hold meetings on campus.

-Months later Professor Daggett gets elected as a member of the National Board of the Progressive Citizens of America(PCA).

-Professor Henry Rideout, then State Chairman of the PCA, becomes a member of the national Wallace for President campaign.

Fall 1948 –  Some of the members of the Liberal Club are suspected of having communist leanings. One member claimed he had been threatened with a beating because of his participation. There were rumors of undercover agents, of spies, of students papers being surreptitiously ransacked for incriminating evidence.

Spring 1948 – The Liberal Club is denied the ability to publish a magazine because the material proposed for the publication “lacked literary merit”. The Board of Trustees and the Union Leader support the decision.

The New Hampshire Sunday News commented on February 8, 1948, -“A student publication was killed before birth at our university, killed ….with some evasive words about the lack of literary quality. Because censorship can live in the cold death of unborn books just as well as in the hot accusing embers of books burned by Hitler, we smell the dank, royal odor of censorship at our state’s university… Free speech doesn’t have a literary qualification attached to it. The Constitution doesn’t say that freedom of speech is guaranteed to those who are able to distinguish a gerund from a participle.”

February 14, 1948 – A chartered bus took UNH student to a Students-for-Wallace conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

April 1948 – The Students for Wallace group hold an outdoor peace rally on campus.

Fall 1948 – The Progressive Party protests a new policy by the University Administration that major candidates would be invited to campus to debate each other (called civic forums), but other than that there would be no other campus politicking.

October 21, 1948 – The only civic forum that allowed Progressive candidates to participate featured candidates for U.S. Congress, and no democrats and only one republican showed up. The Progressive candidates were Professor Rideout, candidate for U.S. Senator, Harold Horne ’49, candidate for the second congressional district, and Alexander Karanikas ’38, candidate for the first congressional district. Not surprisingly, they all lost.

January 1949 – At the New Hampshire State Legislature, Harold Hart, a representative from Wolfeboro, introduced a resolution calling for an investigation into rumors that “certain persons connected with the University of New Hampshire and other educational institutions in the state have been teaching or advocating the overthrow of the government, by force if necessary.”

–          He also introduced a bill, one section of which would prohibit the teachings of the doctrines of Communism or overthrow of the government by force. Another section provided for an oath to be taken by all teachers in the state that they would not advocate overthrow of the government by force and that they belonged to no organization which did.

February 1, 1949 – A public hearing is held in Concord on the resolution calling for a legislative investigation. A substantial number of students attended and a few spoke before the committee on education.

February 24, 1949 – President Adams and Members of the Board of Trustees are invited to speak before the committee. Adams read a 21-page document about communistic activities on campus, in which he outlined 7 rumors, and what he believed the facts to be. He then offered five conclusions:

-First that there is a student club on campus that has been much interested in explosive questions of social philosophy and that there are members of this club who in their politics might be called left-wing extremists. I am convinced, however, that the membership of this club is not communistic dominated, and since there is no law making membership in the Communist Party illegal, I see no basis on which we may deny the opportunities of the University to a student on the basis of his political affiliation.

-Second, that two faculty members (Rideout and Daggert), have engaged in political activity in the Progressive party and that all of those in a position to know these individuals are prepared to testify that they do not believe them to be Communists, that they have not been guilty of subversive acts, and that they have conformed to stated University policy

-Third, no evidence has been brought to light by which unethical or subversive activity can be successfully charged against any faculty member.

-Fourth, that the University Trustees and administration have been and are continuing to exert every effort to see that the faculty makes completely objective presentations of all the controversial issues of the day.

-Fifth, that the University Trustees and administration have been keenly sensitive all along to the determination of proper place of political activity on the University campus and have by their acts in individual instances as well as by their establishment of specific policy taken effective measures to safeguard the integrity of the University.

March, 1949 – The resolution for the legislative investigation was voted down, but the law requiring the disclaimer oath was passed. Professor Rideout did not sign the resolution and was warned that his future at the University was “uncertain”. He resigned at the end of the academic year to take a position at Idaho State College.

Spring, 1949 – A petition for a chapter of Students for a Democratic Action was denied by the University. Several requests for campus talks by real or alleged communists were also turned down. Some meetings barred on campus were held in the Durham Community Church. Herbert Philips, a professor recently dismissed by the University of Washington, was denied permission to speak on the open triangle in the center of town and ended up having coffee with a number of students in Notch Hall. A group wanting to hold a peace rally was unable to get a “recognized” campus organization to sponsor it.

Spring, 1949 – Professor Daggett was backed for promotion from assistant to associate professor by the English Department and the Dean of Liberal Arts. The promotion was not approved by the Board of Trustees and became a public issue. Student representatives met with individual trustees and 1,500 students signed petitions supporting the promotion. In May, the Board reviewed their decision and still denied the promotion. Eventually, Professor Daggett received the promotion a year later.

1950 – The Association of Women Students (AWS) is formed.

May 22, 1951 – The AWS and the Student Council meet to come up with a way for students to be represented on campus. After a vote by the entire student body, the first constitution is passed and Student Senate is born.

1953-  The NH State Legislature passed a bill intended to control “subversive activities” within the state and allowed the State Attorney General to conduct any investigations into the matter as they saw fit.

-A number of the students who had been active in the Liberal Club and in the Progressive Party were questioned by the Attorney General, but most attention was focused on Professor Daggett and a man named Paul Sweezy who was a former professor at Harvard, a self proclaimed Marxist Economist, and had given single lectures to Humanities classes at the University.

-Both men were summoned to Concord to answer questions in the Spring and both answered some but refused to answer others that they felt violated their constitutional rights. An appeal was made to the Superior Court and the men were ordered to answer the questions. Daggett gave in rather than risking further legal complications and answered the questions, but Sweezy took the appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and lost. Then he took it to the United States Supreme Court and on June 17, 1957 he won by a 6-2 vote.

-A petition supporting Daggett was signed by 700 students.

May, 1955 – The Student Senate adopts a resolution that states that the University is opposed to discrimination within fraternities on campus. The fraternities are given two years to work on changing the by-laws of the national fraternity organizations, or be forced to leave.

May 7, 1956 – A group of students meet at Daggetts house after multiple attempts to get Sweezy to speak on campus have failed. They decide to form the Student Committee on Academic Freedom and at the same time that they request to become a recognized student committee, they ask to have Sweezy come speak on May 17. Both requests were denied.

-As a result students began to notice that it seemed that the University was screening speakers. A highly recognized and honorable group on campus called the Senior Skulls decided to take up the cause and request to have Sweezy on campus, while at the same time requesting to have a recognized conservative to present the other side. After careful consideration and many special meetings the trustees agreed to have the event and on May 24th, they spoke to an overflow crowd in Richards (Murkland) auditorium. The Union Leader, and the NH State Governor and Attorney General were all highly critical of the approval of the event.

April 28, 1961 – an “Operation Alert” is ordered by the State Governor, also known as an air raid drill. The New Hampshire Civil Defense Code provided that, during such an alert, all persons not involved in conducting the exercise must take cover under penalty of the law. Students decided to go against the requirement, and sent letters to the press announcing that a group of students would march down Main Street during the alert as a protest against nuclear weapons. The president of the Student Senate urged students to ignore the protest. About 700 students headed downtown to see the excitement.

-18 students were arrested by State and Local Police after refusing to take cover. The press reported the event as a “riot”. The 18 students were each ordered to pay a $50 penalty in court. The NH State Governor Powell requested the students be expelled from the University, the University President Johnson decided to put them on disciplinary probation.

-One of those 18 students was David Diamond. Today, he is a member of Seacoast Peace Response and runs their email list serv for 700 members. You can also see him every Saturday morning from 11 to noon, where he has come out for 8 straight years in vigil opposing the wars.

May 20, 1961 – Governor Powell announces that he will attend the Trustees meeting to urge the Trustees to overrule President Johnson’s decision and expel the students. 1,000 students showed their support of Johnsons decision by lining the walkway from his house to Thompson Hall as he made his way to the meeting.

-The trustees supported President Johnson but decided to issue a statement saying that if any student committed a similar act in the future, it would be grounds for dismissal.

April 21, 1963 – Students organize a Youth Peace Fellowship meeting on campus. Professor Daggett is the keynote speaker and the subject of his talk was “The Role of the Revolution in Promoting Peace.” He said that the United States and the Soviet Union were working towards the same goals, he advocated the admission of mainland China to the United Nations, and he suggested that the U.N. flag should fly above the United States flag.

–          The Union Leader, the NH State Governor, and the local American Legion all requested that he be fired for his remarks.

Fall 1964 – After many protests, the requirement that all freshmen and sophomore men take ROTC courses is abolished. By 1969, there were 39 freshmen enrolled in the Army and 32 freshmen enrolled in the Air Force ROTC programs.

Fall 1964 – Nelson Rockefeller, Harold Stassen, Margaret Chase Smith and Barry Goldwater all major party candidates, speak on campus in the months leading up to the election. A group called “No Time for Politics” invited George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, and James Jackson, editor of the Communist Worker. Of course, there was much controversy with the University Administration over these speakers.

March 11, 1964 – A panel discussion is held on the issue of free speech on campus.

-President McConnell spoke to a rally of 700 students announcing the decision by the Board of Trustees to allow the speakers to come to campus.

February 25, 1965 – 700 students crowd into the NH Statehouse to protest a bill introduced by Representative Feldman that would basically allow no state facility to be used to promote anti-subversive acts or speakers, and anyone who advocated for such things should be fired.

February 27, 1965 – 2,000 students gather at the University for a bonfire rally. At the rally a torch was lighted to burn until the defeat of the Feldman Bill.

-The bill was defeated by a vote of 205-176.

December, 1965 – The University Senate votes to give more power to student senate and allow students to sit in on University committees.

Spring, 1965 – The University Administration announces that second-semester schedules will be made up by a computer for the first time. Student representatives meet with President McConnell to decry the “dehumanization” of the educational process. There is talk of a sit-in on Thompson Hall.

April 21, 1966 – Two dozen members of the New England Committee for Non-Violent Action were on a march from Exeter to Durham when police in Durham stopped them because they didn’t have a permit. Five of the marchers decided to ignore the police and were promptly carted off to jail. The rest of the group split and walked down the sidewalks into town and towards the University.

-In front of the Memorial Union Building a group of students that were against the group blocked the way and threatened the marchers with physical violence. Some eggs were thrown. The counter-protest had been planned in advance and had been heavily advertised.

-The New Hampshire commented that “It is ironic and nauseating that a student body which last year cried out and fought…for freedom of speech…should so quickly and blatantly not only ignore those freedoms but deny them to others.”

-The faculty and students reacted quickly and many student groups joined together in inviting the pacifists back to campus. 700 students signed a resolution condemning the mob.

May 10, 1966 – 125 faculty and hundreds of students join the New England Committee for Non-Violent Action in their march down Main Street after securing the permit for the march.

-The permit had a proviso in it that anyone who had been convicted of violating any town ordinance could not march. The 5 protestors who had been previously arrested marched anyway, and again were arrested.

April, 1967- The Student Senate votes to abolish the curfews set for women on campus.

April, 1967 – The Students for a Democratic Society hold an Anti-Vietnam War Rally on campus. Hundreds attend. The students propose that faculty turn their classes into war workshops, and that the students walk out on those refusing.

1969 – A special program is started for improving educational opportunities for Black students. James Johnson, a Black recruiter, was added to the admissions staff, and Myrna Adams was added as the coordinator for the new program. 26 Black students were admitted to the program in the Fall of 1969.

March, 1969 – A group of faculty, staff, and students put together the first booklet on Students Rights, Rules and Responsibilities.

September, 1969 – Stoke Hall becomes the first co-ed dorm on campus.

October 15, 1969 – Vietnam Day was a nationally recognized event. On campus, it was organized by the Students for a Democratic Society. The student senate passed a resolution encouraging students to participate in the activities. Many professors held workshops on the war instead of giving their regular classes. Many students stayed in bed, rather than attend the workshops.

-The Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative group, urged all professors to continue to hold classes and let students make their choice.

-About 500 students left campus to participate in events elsewhere

November 15, 1969 – 45 students chartered a bus to Washington D.C. for a large anti-war protest.  65 Young Americans for Freedom marched to the bus departure to protest their activities.

1970 – A group of 6 women on campus organized a Disadvantaged Women for Higher Education group and opened a student-run daycare at the Durham Community Church.

December 9, 1969 – There was a university policy that military recruiters and corporations engaged in military work would be allowed to come recruit on campus despite major opposition. They were invited to a forum where they would be allowed to defend their activities. When they were recruiting, a room adjoining the recruiting site would be provided where up to three objectors would be permitted to present their arguments to interviewees. Demonstrating was allowed if it did not involve physical violence.

-On this day the General Electric Company had scheduled interviews on the third floor of Huddleston Hall. The opposition to General Electric was based less on its munitions making than on its failure to reach an agreement with striking workers.

-The Students for a Democratic Society overflowed the room that had been assigned to them and blocked access to the entire third floor. The interviews were then conducted on the second floor of Huddleston.

-The demonstrators blockaded the building and refused to leave when the Dean ordered it to be locked at 6:00pm.

-An emergency meeting was held by the board of trustees and they decided to meet with the students in the morning.

-The students left the building at 4:15 pm the next day and were served with court orders. Most students were suspended for a semester.

February 1970 – 100 students crowd into the Murkland Hall Lobby to protest for another Political Science 401 Class to be offered due to overcrowding of classes and students being refused the ability to take the class.

April 17, 1970 – The New Hampshire reports that Student Body President, Mark Wefers, has invited Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Dave Dellinger to come speak on campus. The three men, who became known in Durham as “The Chicago Three” were among the eight men on trial at the time for conspiracy to riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, 1968. They were to be paid $4,000 from the Student Activity Fee.

April 18, 1970 – The Board of Trustees report getting numerous critical calls and letters expressing dismay about the event. They supported the administration in a decision that $3,000 was not allowed to go towards paying the speakers. They also believed that the Chicago Three were advocates of violence and put further investigation into this.

April 26, 1970 – President McConnell is asked by an executive committee to find out if violence had resulted from the appearance of the Chicago Three at any other campus.

May 1, 1970 – McConnell fails to uncover any violence at any other campus from a similar event. A vote to deny the campus to the speakers fails 12 – 6.  They then decided to allow the event to take place from 2:00 to 5:00 pm and to prepare heavily in advance for the possibility of violence.

-McConnell called Wefers at midnight after the meeting was adjourned to tell him of the decision.

-Wefers issues a campus wide call to protest the time limit decision at 1:30 AM. A few students showed up.

May 2, 1970 – Wefers calls a second meeting to discuss the time limit. He explains to the crowd of hundreds of students that the administration is in effect denying the campus to the speakers because The Chicago Three have a mandatory court appearance on morning of May 5 and they can’t be in Durham until at least 5:00 pm.

May 3, 1970 – The Student Senate votes to dismiss the time limit given by the Trustees. McConnell overrules the decision.

May 5, 1970 – Mark Wefers appears before the U.S. District Court in Concord to petition that the hours limit set by the administration be dismissed. The court set the hours for the event to be from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.

-3:30pm – 4,000 students fill the Lundholm Gymnasium
-4:00pm – Mark Wefers announces to the crowd that the Chicago Three had arrived but refused to abide by the time limit set. They would speak at 7:30 instead. After much dissent McConnell agrees to let the event go on.
-7:30pm – 4,000 students fill the Gymnasium once again. Another 3,000 listen by live feed speakers in the Cowell Stadium.

-The event was described by L.Franklin Heald in the Alumnus:

The three speakers presented the expected tirade against the establishment, law and order, schools and colleges, the war, the treatment of Blacks, President Nixon, even the UNH Trustees, and practically anyone you could name who stands for things most Americans stand for.
The theatrics of Hoffman and Rubin, jumping around on stage, allegedly smoking marijuana joints, repeatedly using the clenched fist strike symbol, and shouting into the microphone – excited the audience who responded with cheers, shouts of approval, and laughter.

May 6, 1970 – Mark Wefers is cited for criminal contempt for disregarding the times set by the court. He was convicted by the U.S. District Court in Concord, but on appeal the decision was reversed by a three-judge panel. Hundreds of students gathered outside the courthouse to support Wefers.

May 6, 1970 – A strike committee is organized on campus in coalition with hundreds of other campus’s in response to the invasion of Cambodia and the recent killing of four students at Kent State University during a protest by National Guard Troops.

-The strike committee demanded that the Administration cancel  all classes for the remainder of the semester. The New Hampshire advocated for the strike but insisted that classes remain going so that students can make the decision whether or not to strike. A huge debate ensued.

May 7, 1970 – The administration decided that the faculty must continue classes, but a student not wishing to finish out the year, after conferring with each of his instructors, would be allowed to:

1. Get a final grade on the basis of their work up to May 7

2. Get a grade of “credit” for a course

3. Get an incomplete in a course with the understanding that the work would need to be made up later.

-Many departments organized workshops and study groups on the war and other problems and cancelled classes all together.

February, 1971 – The Student Senate votes to allow each dorm to set their own visiting


2 responses to “History of Resistance at UNH

  1. Anonymous

    Abbie Hoffman: Awesome.

  2. Smiley

    Hm. It looks like this article was truncated, mid-sentence, in 1971. Would you care to post the rest of this article?

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