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Students 'Fight' Back By Jeremy Bearup

Stand Up and 'Fight'

In the 1970’s, the students at Marshall University displayed courage and bravery by standing up for what they believe in. They would start or be a part of protests to show support for their fellow students and people across the country. The community members of Huntington, West Virginia may not have supported the students in protesting however. But, the students had every right to demonstrate their beliefs by speaking out against what was going on in the world as well as what was going on close to home.

Cambodian Involvement

April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon spoke to the nation about sending military troops to Cambodia to aide their military against the Vietnamese in the Vietnam War. Troops were being sent overseas in order to gain back territory that the Vietnamese took from the Cambodians. People who had turned 18 years old had to go into the draft and fight for their country. The students reacted negatively, challenging the government by orchestrating a sit-in in the ROTC building speaking out against the U.S. involvement in Cambodia on May 5, 1970, according to MU’s "The Parthenon", a student newspaper for Marshall University. The students acted upon their right to free speech and stood up, or rather sat down, for what they believe in by protesting peacefully.

Kent State Shooting

In an article called "May 4, 1970: Guardsmen kill 4 students at Kent State", the author Allen Pusey quoted President Nixon in his speech to the nation saying “We live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home. Even here in the United States, great universities are being systematically destroyed” (Pusey 1). Pusey went on to explain how that quote from President Nixon proved to be true by bringing up what happened at Kent State University. Students originally began protesting against President Nixon sending U.S. troops overseas but some of those protests ended in an extreme state. One protest in particular happened on May 4, 1970 when students rang the football victory bell on the campus commons. They were met by National Guardsmen telling them to clear the area. The students were non-compliant so the Guardsmen threw canisters of tear gas toward them. The students then ran off in different directions leading the Guardsmen up a hill. The Guardsmen felt they were being followed on the hill so they turned around and were met by a group of students watching. They felt threatened and opened fire on the students; four killed and nine wounded.

Student Safety

On May 5, 1970, Marshall University students as well as Huntington community members protested the streets of Huntington according to The Parthenon. A day after the shooting occurred at Kent State. They protested to show solidarity in keeping students safe. In Blake Gumprecht’s The American College Town, he states that “One by one, rules put in place to enable the university to act in place of parents – in loco parentis – were eliminated.” (Gumprecht 303). That was originally written about the University of Delaware and its students, but the same applies with MU and its students to show that the university cares about student safety. Eventually, MU officials set up eleven of what they call ‘blue light’ posts throughout campus. They are two way voice communication emergency/service telephones for students to contact the police. They are easily identifiable due to a blue light being shown on top of the posts. Among many other rule changes for students, the blue lights proved to be effective for student safety on campus.

Work Cited

  • Gumprecht, Blake. The American College Town. University of Massachusetts Press Amherst and Boston, 2008.
  • Pusey, Allen. May 4, 1970: Guardsmen kill 4 students at Kent State. EBSCOhost. ABA Journal, 2017. http://muezproxy.marshall.edu:2060/ehost/detail/detail?vid=6&sid=asid=a1bbb532-d27a-4d2e-89bb-3e094b931d58%40sessionmgr102&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhveQtbG12ZQ%3d%3d#AN=122789039&db=aph.
  • Karnow, Stanley. Cambodia: The Roots of Involvement. EBSCOhost. New Republic, March 22, 1975. http://muezproxy.marshall.edu:2060/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=13&sid=a066bb4a-1a39-4650-a34f-73994ec56d1d%40sessionmgr4006.
  • Deleon, Gian. Kent State Jackson State. 2010. https://mstartzman.pbworks.com/w/page/25615261/Kent%20State%20%20Jackson%20State%20%286%29
  • Marshall University. MU History: A University At Last 1960-1969. 2017. http://www.marshall.edu/muhistory/a-university-at-last-1960-1969/1960-1969-68/
  • Marshall University. The Chief Justice, 1970. Marshall Yearbooks. Book 52. p 70-71. http://mds.marshall.edu/yearbooks/52

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