Note: The photo to the left did appear in the 1970 Keweenawan. The following color photos, courtesy of John Baker, are also from the 1970 protest over the Kent State shootings. It appears there was another protest, in 1972, which indeed had only one photo of a classroom full of students striking in that Keweenawan.
I believe this was taken in front of the Union, spring of 70, after the
Kent State ruckus. That is probably the Chem-Met building going
up in the background.
Several of us, got an appointment with
Governor Bill Milliken and drove to Lansing to work with his
staff at setting up better lines of communication to avoid
a Kent State situation in Michigan. As I recall, it did very little to
help my Calculus grade.
George C. Ellison
The photo that appears to be a protest or rally may have been a memorial
rally following the shootings at Kent State University. That
been May of 1970 and the time of year indicated by the lack
of leaves on
the trees may support that time frame. It appears that the
building was still under construction during this photo and
some faces I recognize from that era.
Larry Ras ' 73
The Protest Photo looked vintage enough for my time at Tech.
Sure enough, I found myself in the picture! Don't remember the specific
event, but we had more than one poorly attended war protest on our conservative
campus (compared to UM and other liberal schools of that time). We were
all worried about being drafted and Tech kept us pretty busy! Not a very
diverse crowd of students, eh? That's the way it was. It was the 1969-70
school year. I was an RA that year in Tombstone Territory and I recognized
one of the guys from my house, George Ellison, in the photo, too.
The enlarged photo shows the ongoing massive utility improvement
program that was under way at the time - remember the steam
tunnel that was installed right down the center of campus?
US-41 had been removed by the time this photo was taken, even though there
is a car in the middle of campus in the photo. You can see the new Chem-Bio
building as well as the soon to be removed Sperr Hall along
with the ME-EM building and McNair Hall. Koenig Hall had been removed the
summer of 1968 just before I got to Tech. We were still watching hockey
at Dee Stadium, too! A whole lot of MTU history was being removed, and
the change that followed was significant. What a great photo of a dramatic
time at Tech.
What a great place it was - and still is!
By the way, the white pine tree that was mentioned in the
mailbag was a survivor of the steam tunnel construction. The
tunnel ran so close to it that cables were installed to keep it from
falling into the excavation. I was surprised that survived
all these years, but noticed last winter that it was looking
pretty sick. It'll be a real shame if we lose that tree.
Thanks for the old photos.
Civil Engineering 1972
I believe the gathering in front of the Union occurred in the spring of
1972 after Nixon extended the Vietnam war into Cambodia. This
is what passes for a campus protest to the war at MTU.
class of ‘75
Here's an educated guess for the protest group in the photo in this week's newsletter.
I believe it is a group protesting the Kent State shootings in May 1970, you
can see black arm bands on some of the students, it was a big deal at that
time on campus.
Tom Maki, BSCE 1971
I’m guessing 1970. Could be the first Earth Day, which was held on
the steps of the Union. The pic looks like it was taken from above the
steps, looking out toward the then new ME-EM building and the old (I think)
Spurr Hall, when 41 still when through campus. There’s someone in
front wearing a Keweenaw Liberation Front t-shirt – they pushed for
environmental awareness even then.
Some of the faces look familiar (I started there in ’71), but not
enough to be able to name them. Hope you find out more…
I not only remember this—I was the chairman of the committee that organized
what I believe was the only student strike in Tech history. There are more pix
(but no real narrative) in the 1972 Keweenawan.
And the time frame was late April or early May 1972, not 1969 or 1970.
You can tell by the construction work in the background on the mall—the
sidewalks and landscaping—which was not started until the MechEng
building was completed.
The protest was directed at a renewed bombing campaign against North Vietnam
and it was part of a wave of anti-war campus protests before the 1972 election.
The two people I recognize for certain are Jim West and Dave Shangle—my
Phi Kappa Theta fraternity brothers. I also see a “KLF” t-shirt
down in front, which stood for Keweenaw Liberation Front. The KLF was,
as I recall, more of an environmental activist group but they were certainly
opposed to the Vietnam War; I think Kerry Irons, one of the key people
in the KLF movement, is in the picture down in the lower left corner.
The entire story is complicated, and even today, controversial to some.
As the US was withdrawing troops in early 1972, the North attacked the
South army, and was on the verge of routing the South army, which retreated
in panic and disorganization. American bombing beat back the North army,
but then more bombing (probably the most intense of the entire war), including
civilian targets in the North (like water supply systems), started.
Many people in the US were upset, and, even though the Kent State incident
had slowed student protest, more protests broke out—for me, the military
events in Vietnam suggested that the South could never defend itself, and
that the people of the South weren’t willing to die to defend their
freedom. At that point, close to 50,000 Americans had been killed in the
war. Support for the war had decreased to a low point; President Nixon
had said he would end the war with a secret plan, GI’s were coming
home, and now this renewed failure of the South army suggested that we
might never leave Vietnam.
When protests started on other campuses, more than a hundred angry students
called on the Student Council to become involved. A special meeting of
was held in the lecture hall in the Civil Engineering building, and the
room was packed. Tempers were running high; some of those present were
advocating protest actions that could easily become violent. As president
of the senior class, and a member of the Council, I was asked to organize
some meaningful form of protest, and we eventually settled on a rally and
teach-in—or symposia about the war. Most classes were cancelled;
it was effectively a one-day student strike.
The picture is from the rally, which was held on the steps of the Union.
Lectures followed; there were no confrontational incidents as far as I
My personal feelings weren’t completely ideological; I primarily
acted because I believed our guys were dying for nothing. And I can also
tell you that Ray Smith, the University President at that time, spoke with
me at commencement in June. If he was in anyway disappointed or angry about
the protest, he never said so to me. He treated me with respect and warmth
when we talked. My guess is that he was relieved that the day passed in
a very orderly and polite fashion. It’s easy to forget that the architecture
of the Admin Building was reputed to have been a result of concerns about
student-driven political violence—the small windows, the constricted
entrance way, no grand lobby area—few people remember that administration
buildings across the country were occupied by student protesters for days
at a time on some campuses.
Finally, I think it’s important to note for the record that I enlisted
in the Army in August—after getting my degree—and served my
two years and got an honorable discharge.
Mike Anleitner ‘72
I was at Tech in the timeframe suggested and remember we had
a couple of
rather benign protests around the front of the student union.
picture, it looks like part of the chem-bio building in the
corner. The 65 Chevy in the upper right indicates that part
of the old
highway through the campus still existed at that time of the
I can only remember one or two gatherings such as in the photo. Didn't
amount to much. Just someone talking about our involvement
in the Vietnam
war. As student body, we were a pretty apathetic bunch and
didn't do all
that high-profile protesting seen on other campuses. Couple
of folks wore
black armbands. Some stared at the ROTC cadets during drill
Brings back memories!
Not sure if Tech had a history of Vietnam protests, but this photo looks like
the one I remember from fall of 1971, my freshman year. A nice looking co-ed
came through DHH (men only then) one night shouting that students were gathering
at one of the engineering buildings to discuss recent Vietnam War actions.
She was able to get over half of DHH out of their rooms to join in within minutes.
We packed a lecture room and heard about how Nixon was ordering full scale
bombing of Laos and that U of WI Madison was planning a protest. We all voted
to have one of our own and hoped that students would skip classes one afternoon
and listen to anti-war speeches. This photo appears to be from the steps of
the Union from where the speakers stood. If this is that day in 1971, I am
probably not in the picture since I only stayed for awhile and didn’t
want to miss my math class! I always remembered with amazement how that young
co-ed got us all moving so quickly!! A classic Tech moment!!
I am copying a friend (below) to see if he remembers.
I do remember this – I was thinking 1970, but if you were there
it would have been 1971. Those kinds of protests were kind
of foreign to MTU though and as I remember it was rather quiet and docile
as compared to those happening on the larger campuses like U of M. Unfortunately
I couldn’t identify anyone in the photograph.
Hey, in the Alumni Profiles
section in Chemical Engineering sort the second person shown
is Sean Asiala – he
is my Edward Jones investment rep (he’s also a hockey goalie)… small
world isn’t it.
Douglas B. Taylor
The large protest crowd was part of the response to the Kent State shootings
in 1970. I knew a large percentage of that crowd. The university
shut down in protest; a strike was called but not everyone
fear of falling behind in their classes or in disagreement
with the idea of
The one person for sure that I recognize is sitting on the ground to the
left of the table (third person over with sunglasses). That's
with his KLF (Keweenaw Liberation Front) sweatshirt beneath
his open jacket.
See page 179 of the 1970 yearbook for more details on the KLF
Kerry Irons, '72
The picture shown in your email, was the protest regarding the Kent State
/ National Guard shootings.
Look in the 1970 year book, there
were a number of speeches (some by faculty) that day.
G Kent ‘70
The photo of the protest from 1969 or 1970 was actually from
May, 1970 and it was part of the campus protests that took place nationwide
after the Kent State tragedy in Ohio. There were 3 days of
protests and many classes were cancelled and while it stayed peaceful,
it was still the largest anti-war rally in MTU history. Note that I’ve
got a series of photos (in color) which I could mail to you if you would
like them. I did some free lancing back then and one of the photos I
took at the protest was published in the Year Book (1970). If you have
a copy look on page 12 (the color shot is mine). That was a good year
as I also have photos on pages 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 as well as of course
12. BTW, all of my photos which had anything to do with my years at ‘da
were donated to the university historical archive several years
ago and so some dusty file cabinet there’s somewhere near a 1,000
and color slides of campus life and the area around the university
all documented and hopefully preserved and safe (I donated the original
negatives and slides as that what was requested at the time although
I scanned them all before I donated them and still have copies of the
images in my archive).
John R. Baker, P.E.
I didn't attend tech until the 80s, but from what I have been told MTU
was pro-Vietnam. Just like there was two pro-Iraq war parades
in this decade. Is there still a sign commemorating People's
Park on the way up to the SDC?
John: People's Park is gone now. St. Al's parking lot
and the street expanded into the plot of trees.