Student Strike at Webster College, May 1970


The description below provides some basic information about the origin of the collection, the materials available, and any restrictions in use that are in place. Note that the list of materials may not be complete as items may be added to the archives throughout the year. Use of the Webster Archives is by appointment only. See our Planning a Visit page for more information. If you have questions, contact the archives staff.


Administrative/Biographical History: On May 4, 1970, an anti-war protest on the campus of Kent State University turned deadly when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on the protesting students, killing four and wounding nine. The incident precipitated calls for strikes at colleges and universities across the United States. Webster College (as Webster University was known at that time) was the site of a strike on May 5-6, 1970.

The student newspaper (at that time called The Web) published its last issue of the semester on May 8, 1970. It recounted the activities that took place in the aftermath of the shootings–a memorial service and all-night vigil, a student strike on Tuesday, May 5, and a campus-wide strike on Wednesday, May 6, complete with sit-ins, neighborhood petitions, and fasting. The day ended with an “Affirmative Rally for Peace” and a benefit performance of Boys from Syracuse, a Rodgers and Hart musical, to raise money to be sent to Kent State.

[student strike, May 1970]

Here is the official statement from the Webster Strike Committee as reprinted in the paper:

“By staging a strike within the Webster College Community on Wednesday, we are using the freedom given us by an open administration to use the College as a forum for effectively communicating student opinion to the public. In no way are we striking against the college, the administration, or the faculty. All our actions will be non-violent and calculated to encourage intelligent involvement in the vital social issues immediately before us.

This affirmative strike is a tactic to encompass the more conventional methods of protest (fast, petitions, telegrams and rallies) within a significant non-violent action.

Our society is in an emergency situation. To conduct “business as usual” is to deny the magnitude of our dilemma. Continued silence and apathy will only further undermine our freedoms as members of a participatory government” (Webster College Strike Committee).

According to one estimate, 80 percent of the Webster student body took part in the protest ("Student strike spills"). A faculty participant reported that three classes were held on the day of the strike (Rosenberg, p. 16).

Date(s): 1970

Physical extent: 5 folders

Scope/Content: The collection includes materials from students, faculty and administrators, as well as a related article from a local newspaper. Assorted photographs are available from a separate collection.

Conditions of Access and Use: The collection is open for research use by appointment only.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright restrictions may apply.

Languages and Scripts of the Material: Materials entirely in English.

File list:
14/70/1 Statement from Dr. Gerdine, May 5, 1970
14/70/1 Strike Committee materials
14/70/4 Correspondence
14/70/5 Clippings
14/70/7 "Diary of a Strike: Webster in Motion" by Arthur A. Rosenberg

References:

Kent State Shootings: May 4 Collection (Special Collections and Archives, Kent State University)
The Webster College Strike Committee (1970, May 5). The Web--Strike Issue
No 'business as usual'. (1970, May 8). The Web, vol. 48, no. 23, p. 1.
STRIKE! (1970, May 8). The Web, vol. 48, no. 23, p. 1.
Strike summary. (1970, May 8). The Web, vol. 48, no. 23, p. 2.
Student strike spills over to community. (1970, May 7). St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

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