As the orange glow of napalm was strewn across Vietnam — fire storms that wiped out villages and burned through civilizations — executives from its manufacturer, Dow Chemical Company, conducted job interviews with IU students in the Kelley School of Business.
On Oct. 30, 1967, about 100 students staged a sit-in against the company.
According to an Indiana Daily Student article, then-sophomore Dan Kaplan, a member of Students for a Democratic Society, gave the company’s representatives an ultimatum: Leave within five minutes and do not do anymore recruiting, or the protesters would come in.
“Times were heavy back then,” said Marc Haggerty, an alumnus and Vietnam War veteran.
No one left, and about 40 protesters barged through the door, which a few men inside attempted to hold shut.
According to the IDS article, police arrived, arrested 35 students who remained at the protest and injured two — including a graduate student who suffered a
“If we’re going to have these war-people recruiting on campus, what kind of welcome are we going to give them? What kind of welcome are we going to be allowed to give them?” Haggerty said.
Five years before the protests, IU trustees designated Dunn Meadow as a place for free speech and protest.
But many of the major demonstrations the University witnessed in the late ’60s and early ’70s did not happen in the meadow.
Instead, Dunn Meadow became a meeting place — a safe zone for students to join and decide what steps to take next. Thousands would come for voice votes, rallies and discussions, and the hundreds who wished to carry out the plans would continue elsewhere on campus — Showalter Fountain, Bryan Hall or the IU Auditorium.
Tensions brewed between the anti-Vietnam and pro-Vietnam students on campus in the late ’60s. And although Indiana is traditionally a right-wing state, Haggerty said Bloomington started to see a wave of left-wings take root.
“The counterculture surged,” Haggerty said. “People came from everywhere.”
At a rally in Dunn Meadow in April 1967, about 500 students gathered to support U.S. policy on the Vietnam War.
“I say the majority of students are behind the government’s policy in Vietnam,” Robert F. Turner, state chairman of the Student Committee for Victory in Vietnam, said in an IDS article.
However, by the late ’60s, student opinion had changed about the war.
On Oct. 15, 1969, an estimated 3,500 students blocked Seventh Street for almost half an hour as they marched to Dunn Meadow in protest of the war, according to an IDS article.
They carried candles and chanted “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the Viet Cong is gonna win,” “End the war now” and “Peace.”
In spring 1969, the student body also faced another issue that hit closer to home. IU administration announced a 68 percent tuition increase, and students responded with a nine-day boycott of classes.
On April 30, students announced their demands, which asked the administration to declare a freeze on the tuition increase, to allow an elected student committee with parity — a veto vote — to work with administrators on the budget, to have a graduated tuition based on the ability to pay and to have no tuition by 1972.
Most of the decisions on the boycott and demands were made by vocal votes counted from about 8,000 students in a Dunn Meadow protest.
But the day before the boycott ended, approximately 130 black students and faculty, led by then-graduate student Rollo Turner, entered Ballantine Hall during an administrative meeting and demanded the Board of Trustees come to the building.
“The next thing I know is that these students, I think all of them, had the administration locked up in a room, and all the police in the world were called, including me,” said Tom Berry, the Monroe County prosecutor from 1966 to 1973.
The lock-in resulted in a grand jury indictment of nine people on misdemeanor charges of rout.
“In any event, the grand jury did indict, and I learned the hard way that the grand juries tend to indict when maybe they shouldn’t,” Berry said.
“So they indicted, and then I was stuck with this strange trial, which of course ended up in acquittal — probably rightfully so.”
Although the ’60s came with political turmoil, it also came with another stigma — sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.
Counterculture students would throw parties, or tribal acid-induced sex-rock-extravaganzas, at Dunn Meadow and the alumni center, Haggerty said. And the Screaming Gypsy Bandits — one of Bloomington’s only rock bands in the ’60s — always played, he said.
“We didn’t know how big of a dose we had taken,” Haggerty said.
The typical scene: men in dresses wearing war paint and women with no tops while band members performed sexual acts on stage. Marijuana and LSD were passed around freely while the crowd pulsated — in another world, Haggerty said.
Nobody was ever arrested because it would be too big of an embarrassment for the University, he said.
On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guard members fixated their bayonets at Kent State University and shot at a group of protesters, killing four students. The shooting spawned more than 400 campus protests across the United States, IU included.
Students and Bloomington locals gathered at the alumni center to figure out how they could get through to administrators.
The student body president at the time, Keith Parker, was also a Black Panther who had gone to Hanoi, Vietnam, with other IU Student Association executives to meet with Vietnam revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh during the war.
But Parker was not able to set up a meeting with then IU President Joseph Sutton, Haggerty said.
On May 12, 1970, about 1,000 people showed up at Alumni Hall, Haggerty said. He suggested the crowd shut down Bryan Hall, the administration building, until IU executives agreed to meet.
The next morning, about 300 people arrived in Dunn Meadow bearing chains and padlocks.
They walked to Bryan Hall, bound themselves to the doors and sat there, waiting.
As every successive wave of students left their classrooms, the rumors started to spread. By noon, 3,000 people were at the building, which shut down traffic, Haggerty said.
Then-Monroe County Sheriff Clifford Thrasher lined Third Street “with the boys,” prepared with shields, tear gas and shotguns, Haggerty said.
But before the police could act, Sutton delivered a message calling for a publicized meeting in the IU Auditorium.
“We’ll take the fucking streets later,” former student Greg Hess said as the crowd began to disperse.
Police started sifting through the crowd — while Thrasher looked for someone who said that profanity in his presence.
Hess was arrested, his case eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court and cited in law textbooks throughout the nation, Haggerty said.
For Haggerty and the other students of the ’60s and ’70s, times were rough and demonstrations were the only option.
But today’s students are a different breed, Haggerty said.
“Spoiled. Privileged. Elite.”