Alumni Discuss '69 Strike

A panel of 11 speakers participated in a "teach-in" at the Institute of Politics last night that focused on the 1969 University Hall sit-in.

"We're not here out of nostalgia, we're here to set the record straight," Susan B. Jhirad '64, a graduate student who participated in the building takeover 20 years ago, said to more than 200 people who filled the forum room of the Institute.

Nate L. Goldshlag '71, the event's organizer, said the forum was intended to educate younger people about the takeover and ensuing strike at Harvard and to give activists greater visibility.

The discussion began with a slide presentation accompanied by original 1969 WHRB broadcasts, illustrating the building sit-in aimed at the expulsion of the Harvard Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) unit. The crowd hissed as the image of then-President Nathan M. Pusey '28 appeared on the screen above the panel, and cheered at the flashing picture of students inside University Hall.

"At Harvard, we did end ROTC and achieved a Black studies program," said Jhirad. "No, we did not change the world, but if we shortened the Vietnam War by only a few days and saved only a few Vietamese and American lives, it was worth it. I, for one, am proud of what we did," she said.


Performers--including the Radical Arts Troupe (RAT), a student group thatperformed in demonstrations in 1969--played duringan intermission in the discussion.

Aldyn McKean '70, a singer in RAT and now a gayrights activist, said the teach-in was intended toinform today's activists about the buildingtakeover.

"Just as we, in the 60s, learned from theactivities of the civil rights and voterregistration drives and the free speech movement,we have an obligation to pass on our commitmentand our methodology to those that come after us,"McKean said before the discussion.

McKean added that the forum was also aimed atshowing that the 1960s activist has notdisappeared.

"There is an impression that is fostered inpopular culture that says 60s radicals have allbecome yuppies," McKean said. "The fact is thatmany of us have remained committed to ideals andprinciples of the 60s," he added.

Panelists included scholars, activists andparticipants in the University Hall takeover.

"We wanted a lot of diversity and a lot ofviewpoints," said Goldshlag