While I was cruising the web trying to find a picture of little Rowan Hall, I found the most interesting article regarding protests at Miami University in April 1970. This was, as the article sets out, right before the Kent State University killings. I had no idea that Rowan Hall had once been the ROTC Hall. It sure has changed (and is about to be demolished for a new student center).
1970, Vietnam War Protests:
Anti-Vietnam War protests reached their zenith in the spring of 1970 when the ROTC offices and classrooms in Rowan Hall were occupied in a sit-in on April 15. After the Kent State shootings in May, 720 American universities closed. Miami was one of them. We closed for a week. When we reopened, it was with a plan for pass or fail grades to replace letter grades for students who opted for that alternative.
It was something you lived day by day, night by night. We had students from campuses that were closed coming to our campus, camping out in tent cities at the edge of campus, north and south. Many of them from Antioch College, and they were out to close other schools.
We had seven fires one night on campus. I received a number of death threats, and I even had a Molotov cocktail left on the front porch of Lewis Place.
It was a very difficult time, but I would say that we had a lot of cooperation from students and faculty. We closed and when we reopened, we had 930 students with the faculty standing guard in our buildings so if any fires did break out, we could get an almost instantaneous response.
Their objective at Miami was to close down the ROTC and the Air Force and the Navy as a military presence on the campus, and my argument was … far better to have the military on a civilian campus where they’re interacting with students with varying opinions day after day than to put them exclusively in a West Point or Annapolis or out in Colorado, the Air Force Academy, where all they do is talk to each other.
The flush-in was one of the events that spring. The flush-in was a terrible, terrible experience. Never forget Bill Beck calling when they had the flush-in. He said, “Dr. Shriver”… he always called me Phil, but this time Dr. Shriver … “the water in my basement is up to the piano keys.” That water was suddenly dumped on the town. When they all flushed, it had to go somewhere, pipes couldn’t carry it away. And the town immediately reacted. “This has gone far enough.” Enough is enough, so it boomeranged.
After that experience in the spring of ’70, we moved the ROTC down to Millett Hall. It was no longer in the center of the campus and not quite as visible as it had been before.