Michigan State News

November 21, 1975

"Protesters invade placement offices in opposition to CIA recruiters"

by Michele Burgen


Student demonstration leaders and MSU administrators cooperated to avoid a confrontation between 130 protesters and police Thursday in the second day of protests against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruitment on campus.

A tally that began outside the Placement Services offices in the Student Services Building shortly after noon moved inside about 1 p.m. and filled hallways inside the building.

Tension grew as small number of uniformed police with riot helmets and clubs appeared in the corridors of Placement Services but tried to stay out of the view of protesters.

The crowd soon pushed into the main lobby of Placement Services when chanting and hand-clapping failed to arouse response from office personnel. MSU Placement Director Jack Shingleton, in a effort to ease tension between the protesting students and about six plainclothes police officers guarding the facilities mingled with the crowd and attempted to joke with the rally leaders.

Demonstrators said they had come into the offices to get interviews with the CIA.

"Where’s the line for Chile?" and "I want Angola" promoted laughs from the crowd. One of the leaders, visibly worried that the rally might get out of control, said the group should not force and altercation because "if we get arrested we shift the emphasis from the CIA to us and make us look like fools."

The four-hour demonstration remained orderly and no arrests were made.

Capt. Ferman Badgely of the MSU Dept. of Public Safety said the police recognized the group’s right to picket and protest.

When asked whether the group was trespassing by being in the offices, Badgely said:

"It’s a gray area. They’re not disturbing Mr. Shingleton’s operation as far as he’s concerned."

Students in suits and dresses awaiting interviews with CIA officials remained in the office and were called to interviews between demonstrator’s speeches.

"We see the CIA as a threat to this country and to other countries of the world," said Jim Grossfeld, organizer of the November 20th Mobilization, one of the groups formed to rally against CIA recruitment here.

Shingleton, still making jokes and trying to keep the crowd calm, said he and office personnel would see to it that students who had come for interviews would get in. He asked one of the CIA representatives to come out to speak to the crowd but the representative refused.

"He (the CIA representative) is under explicit orders not to speak to large groups of people like this," Shingleton said. The statement was greeted with jeers from the protesters.

Shingleton then offered to show the group the interview schedule, which was completely filled, to prove that CIA officials had no time to talk at the rally. Later, however, two demonstrators were allowed to speak with CIA personnel between interviews.

Grossfeld and John Sase of the November 20th mobilization said the personnel officer they spoke with said he was here to recruit persons for computer analysis operations and was not concerned with the policies of the CIA.

Grossfeld said the CIA spokesman understood the reasons for the demonstration, and said he (the spokesman) only knew of the espionage tactics of the CIA from news reports in papers and on television.

"As far as denying the CIA the right to come on campus ideologically I disagree with that thesis," he said. Students who want to interview with the CIA should have the opportunity, he added.

He also said Placement Services gets several requests each year from groups who object to recruiting efforts by companies who they feel are responsible for such things as pollution and exploitation of nations.

Other speakers attacked a State news editorial that defended MSU’s right to invite the CIA here and labeled the CIA "a legitimate organization." Calling the CIA "murders" and "assassins," they said the CIA "takes away the rights of individuals" and therefore should not be recognized as legitimate.

Several spokesmen for the demonstrators said they would take their concerns to the board of trustees’ meeting today. ASMSU President Brian Raymond drafted a letter to the trustees Thursday afternoon requesting the board review the appropriateness of CIA recruitment on campus.

By 3 p.m. more than half of the crowd filtered out, while the 50 or so that remained continued to chant, sing and clap hands until the office closed at 5 p.m.