|Columbia University Archives|
Table of Contents
Container ListView All
Series XIII: The Office of the President Records, 1958-1974
Series XIV: Photographs and Negatives
Series XVI: Daniel L. Schlafly Material on the 1968 Crisis, 1967-1969
Series VIII: Students: Groups, 1966-1975
The student strikes that occurred at Columbia between 1968 and 1972 figure prominently in the material found in this series. This series contains extensive holdings on three campus organizations in particular; the Strike Coordinating/Steering Committee (SCC), the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and Students for a Restructured University (SRU). The SCC, formed by the Columbia chapter of SDS, was composed of representatives from the various units of the University and from other student organizations and quickly assumed the mantle of strike leadership from the Columbia University Student Council (CUSC) and the Coalition of Student Leaders (CSC), whose early activities are also recorded here. The Columbia chapter of SDS had taken an early activist lead on a cluster of issues that prompted student unrest and ultimately the strike. Among them were the proposed gymnasium and other instances of campus expansion, the University's relationship with the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) and the School of International Affairs, ROTC and military research recruiting, and conditions for campus workers. SRU sponsored numerous strike activities and these materials reveal their role in the administration's efforts to address student concerns about the governing structure of Columbia, including the group's co-sponsorship of hearings on University restructuring.
Numerous other student organizations active during the 1968 strike are represented in this series, including the Students' Afro-American Society and the groups of students who occupied campus buildings, known as "communes." Beyond formal organizations, students acting independently or in informal associations are represented by items in the files titled "Students – Unaffiliated," which contain open letters, petitions, and other public statements, as well as accounts of strike events. While the bulk of the material relating to the 1968 strike in this series was produced by pro-strike organizations, the voices of strike opponents are also evident. The Majority Coalition, Students for Columbia University, Students for a Free Campus, and the Committee for the Defense of Property Rights criticized the actions of the SCC, SDS, SRU, and other leading student groups. These strike opponents urged students to avoid strike demonstrations and to attend regularly scheduled classes.
A smaller amount of material exists for the student strikes of 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972. Renewed demonstrations and strike activity in 1969 were prompted by continuing student concern with Columbia's role as a landlord in the neighboring community, as well as the presence of ROTC, military recruiters, and military researchers on campus. Demands for the development of a black studies curriculum also played a contributing role.
Numerous student organizations at Columbia in the late 1960s and early 1970s precipitated disruptions that addressed other campus issues. Columbia's control of real estate in the Morningside Heights neighborhood and its relationship to the local community were taken up by, among others, the Community Action Committee, the Columbia-Barnard Citizenship Council and its Morningside Housing Committee. The literature produced by these groups, such as the Citizenship Council's detailed report entitled Columbia and the Community: Past Policy and New Directions, provided analyses of the campus expansion issue. This and a cluster of topics featured in the strikes prompted activist efforts for a slate of student groups: military and war research recruiting on campus, Columbia's defense and intelligence contacts through the IDA and the School of International Affairs, conditions for campus workers, the role of students in the governance of the University.
International affairs, particularly U.S. foreign relations, were of great interest to student groups at Columbia. The ubiquitous issue, of course, was the American military presence in Southeast Asia. Opposition to the Vietnam War was expressed, in some form, by nearly every student organization represented in this series. It was a major part of the program of SDS and other groups that addressed multiple issues, often in the context of protest against American "imperialism." Numerous campus organizations emerged from the mid 1960s though mid 1970s for the primary purpose of expressing opposition to the war and the draft, among them Action for Peace, the Moratorium Coalition, the Resistance at Columbia, and the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War. Their voluminous literature is contained in this series; as is material issued by unidentified student groups.