Yard Watches Students Seize University Hall

New Roger Rosenblatt Book Offers Administrative Perspective on 1969 Anti-War Takeover, Beatings

The ringing of the Memorial Church bells has reverberated through neighboring University Hall for as long as anyone can remember.

On April 9, 1969, the midday chimes were accompanied by an act that shook the foundations of the University itself before the eyes of the class of '72.

At noon that day, 100 members and supporters of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) entered University Hall.

By 12:45 the students had removed all administrators from the building, some forcibly.

At 4:30, the administration ordered the gates to Harvard Yard to be locked.

Just before 5 a.m. the next morning, more than 400 police officers entered the Yard at the request of University President Nathan M. Pusey '28.

The police rushed through the Yard, clearing the outside of University Hall of protesters and pursuing students into nearby Thayer Hall.

At 5:05 a.m., the police entered University Hall and began to beat the students within.

As many as 75 students were injured in the bust, which sent 40 students to University Health Services and local hospitals.

By 5:15, the police had successfully cleared the building and loaded the students into police vehicles. They arrested between 250 and 300 students. By 6 a.m., the officers were gone.

That afternoon, 2,000 moderate students voted for a three-day student strike to protest the use of police force.

Four days later, between 10,000 and 12,000 students met at Harvard Stadium to ratify the strike and back a list of demands similar to those proposed by SDS during the takeover. Demands included the abolition of Harvard's participation in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, and an end to the expansion of University facilities into poor neighborhoods.

On April 18, a mass meeting of 3,500 students voted to end the strike.

On June 9, the Faculty, acting on the recommendation of the Committee of Fifteen--a group formed to investigate the takeover--dismissed three students, separated or required 13 others to withdraw, gave 20 suspended suspensions and placed 99 on warning.

Earlier this year, Roger Rosenblatt published Coming Apart: A Memoir of the Harvard Wars of 1969.