Senator Eugene McCarthy leads a strong anti-war campaign. MIT was one of the strongest campuses in this campaign. Students would travel across new England on weekends to rally and campaign for him.Boston Globe, Tom Landers, article written by Robert L. Turner on July 26th 1968
In November of 1968, Mike O’Connor, a GI went AWOL and arrived at MIT looking for sanctuary. For ten days, a sanctuary was successfully held in the student center, a peaceful political action that ended in a negotiated arrest.
"People came from near and far to experience this unfolding event. The culture was Woodstockish, but with radical politics, innovative courses, teach-ins, music, theater, constant consciousness raising, and debate.” -- Mike Alber UA President
MIT and the nation overall faces an existential crisis. With debates and protests over the war, racism, and other matters going on.
Tensions rise as students rally. The Science Action Coordinating Committee pushes for “Research Stoppage” and preventing war research at MIT. They rally with alumni to push for a meeting between alumni, faculty, and students.
Students are handing out flyers to alumni to urge the institute to prevent war research.
As protests get stronger and campuses across the nation get polarized, 79 College Presidents including MIT President Howard Johnson write letter to then elected president Richard Nixon. They urge Nixon for a speedy end to the war for the betterment of their campuses and the nation as a wholeRosenbaum, David E. New York Times
“For us at MIT, the task is clear. We must raise the price of war until its masters end it” -- Mike Albert, UA President
In several cities, Vietnam Moratorium day was observed. In Boston, several college campuses rally to get thousands of people at the Boston Common.
On November 3rd, 1969, a Candlelight vigil is held. About 500 people showed up including several professors.
Unlike other events, there was no platform, no speakers, just silent conversations and reflection.
November Action Coalition (NAC) urges for an end to war related research at MIT. They plan for Nov 4th to be a massive day of action.
Almost 750 people congregate to march and witness the march. It was a peaceful rally that travelled to the Center for International Studies to protest war related efforts there.
On November 4th, students demonstrate outside the President’s office and hundreds gather in Lobby 7. Anti war chants could be heard and viet cong flags and other picketing signs are carried around.
Students march to the Center of International Studies to protest.
On November 5th, 1969 protests and march take students to rally to the Instrumentation laboratory, a major lab conducting war related research.
This march takes a negative turn as Cambridge Police and students clash. Students can be seen attacking the police on the top right.
Students and faculty concerned about safety and violence work to ensure safe rallies and preventing intervention by Cambridge or other 10 police force.
Professor Jerome Lettvin can be seen in despair that students wouldn’t listen to his words of caution.
But despite the efforts of those individuals, things were not always smooth. In this image then MIT student Josef Mraz gets hauled off of campus by Cambridge Police.
Not all of campus was against the war, MIT, and war research. Counter protests also occurred.
Both sides of the activism can be seen clashing here.
In early January, Mike Albert is expelled after a trial. The committee on discipline asked him to withdraw for disciplinary reasons.
Students protest this decisions and find it unfair to Albert.
On January of 1915, 4 intruders dressed in ski masks and lab coats use a battering ram to break down President Johnson’s door. Over 70 students participate in this demonstration and the president’s office is occupied for 2 days.Harold Federow
Students were protesting the expulsion of Mike Albert. Nothing came out of the occupation and the administration was ready to call civil authorities had the sit-in continued.
In April 1970, US. President Nixon announces a military campaign to invade Eastern Cambodia. The nation was stirred with anger to protest even further at this escalation of the war.
Students marching towards the Boston Statehouse
Students marching towards the Boston Statehouse
In early April nearly 60,000 people almost entirely students from around Boston, rally at the common.Technique
MIT of course sent a large contingency to this rally.Craig Davis
Campuses around the nation are striking in May 1970. MIT strikes as well, to eliminate ROTC, divest, and close the institute.
After all of this protesting, in May of 1970, MIT officially divests in the I-lab and makes a plan to separate itself from the lab which will become an independent laboratory. MIT student’s largest ask which they presented to administration through months of protests was finally heard.Technique 1970
However, all did not return to normal thereafter. Some protests continued through the end of the war. Many activists remained active, and rallies continued.
The MIT administration saw the need to listen to this collective student voice. Divesting in Draper Labs was not simply a financial or administrative decision. It would change the identity of the institute.
MIT's existential crisis at this junction helped define and shape its future.Technique