Student Strike at Webster College, May 1970

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 (For more information, visit Kent State Shootings: May 4 Collection). 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 ("STRIKE!", p. 1). 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 ("Strike summary", p. 2).

Black and white photograph of students with large sign reading WHY?


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).


Selected resources related to the strike preserved in the Webster University Archives are listed below. 



No 'business as usual'. (1970, May 8). The Web, vol. 48, no. 23, p. 1.

Rosenberg, Arthur A. Diary of a Strike: Webster in Motion.
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.

The Webster College Strike Committee (1970, May 5). The Web--Strike Issue




Statement from Dr. Gerdine regarding the Webster College strike, May 5, 1970. Dr. Leigh Gerdine was president of Webster College at the time of the strike. 

Statement re rationale for the strike, May 5, 1970.

Strike schedule for May 6, 1970.

Strike information convention agenda, May 6, 1970.

Statement for the Webster [Groves] community, May 6, 1970.

Telegrams to President Richard Nixon and selected U.S. senators.

Leaflets with messages to Missouri congressmen.

Brief summary of events (Student Strike Committee).

Telegram from selected U.S. senators to Webster student Michael Calkins.