Michigan State News

May 12, 1970

"Strikers, officials stalemated"

by Dave Short and Marilyn Patterson


Approximately 200 people jammed the Board of Trustees Room in the Administration Bldg. Tuesday afternoon for a meeting of the minds about the strike going on within the University and the strikers demands.

The meeting was called by President Wharton in an attempt to have the issues discussed by various groups within the University structure. Although Wharton had intended to have only representatives from each student organization, the strike steering committee, the faculty-graduate assistant strike committee, anti-strikers and the Administration, the crowd was allowed to stay.

Throughout the three and half hour session, Wharton reasserted the University’s previous position on the strike and the demands.

With the strikers still pressing for their demands, the meeting was a standoff. But, the meeting was the first session between representatives of the steering committee and the administration. Another meeting is planned today from noon to 2 p.m. between the same representatives.

Although nothing definite was resolved, a wide range of issues including the concept of the University and academic freedom were discussed. Wharton pointed out that the channels within the University were viable, but the strikers continuously disagreed with him.

The meeting followed a strike rally of about 3,000 people in front of Beaumont Tower.

Controversy broke out throughout the meeting concerning the strikers’ demands. Wharton emphasized during the meeting that he had called it for discussion purposes rather than as a negotiating session.

Strike representatives questioned Wharton continuously about his plans concerning their issues.

The president announced that a commission was being formed to discuss open admissions and other issues. But, he pointed out that the commission was planned long before the strike came. The commission will report its findings after a year of study.

Wharton said that many students weren’t familiar with the background of many of the issues. He added that there is no point in jumping into things before they have been researched.

The meeting was disrupted from time to time with emotional outbursts from the crowd and with several soundings of building fire alarms.

At the rally which preceded the march to the Administration Bldg., about 3,000 students and faculty heard the strike steering committee position statement on the strike presented by Pat Martin, Lubbock, Texas, freshman.

"Rather than calling this phenomenon a strike it could be recognized as a massive awakening to the issues long present," Martin said.

"Business as usual has been getting more and more unusual, yet we sat back quietly and said nothing as we watched the dream of America become a nightmare…the question that faces us now is whether or not we will or can allow business to continue as usual within our communities, while we still have the opportunity to do so. That is why we strike now, before it is too late."

In answer to those who question the benefit of a strike, the statement said the strike is to "demonstrate our outrage at this society … striking is a peaceful way to withhold goods and services from those in power: We are the goods and the instructors are withholding their services.

"When we talk about shutting the University down, we are not saying the National Guard should come here and send us home, but that classes should not be conducted in the traditional way and that we should be spending our time working for those changes which we see as necessary for that achievement of a society we wish to live in."

At the rally Norman Pollack, professor of history, read the preamble to the statement to be issued by the faculty-graduate assistant strike committee.

The Street Corner Society, a peace-oriented theatrical group, performed several skits and songs both spoofing the war and dealing seriously with it.

Picketing of the classroom buildings continued Monday but with limited success.

Pickets were fewer in number and students attending classes were much increased over last week.

Organizations supporting the strike have planned various activities for the week.

The School of Social Work is sponsoring an all night vigil from 8 p.m. tonight to 8 a.m. Wednesday in 101, 102, and 103 Holmes Hall.

Tables for sending cards and letters to congressmen are being set up along Grand River Avenue. Anyone interested in working at a table may call 351-1302.

Parade permits for marches to the Capitol have been obtained for Wednesday and Thursday. The Strike Steering Committee is making no statement yet about a march on Wednesday; however, a march of students from MSU, Eastern, Western, and Central Michigan universities and Michigan Technical Institute is planned for Thursday afternoon.

Students interested in issuing pamphlets on the march may pick them up in 11 Snyder Hall. Those interested in being march marshals may call 353-1948.