To the Editor:
I read with interest Braden McDonald and Molly Simio’s feature story on the “protest culture” at Georgetown University [“Marching On,” The Hoya, B1, March 21, 2014]. In their recap of the history of campus protest beginning in May, they comment that “Georgetown’s Vietnam era response, while dramatic by today’s standards, was tame in comparison to the daily riots that gripped other colleges nationwide.” That was not actually the case.
The authors neglected to include the most dramatic campus protest to have ever taken place at Georgetown University on March 13, 1969, at Gaston Hall, when Mayor Joseph Alioto of San Francisco was prevented from speaking. Prior to his visit to Georgetown, Mayor Alioto disrupted a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War and for social justice at San Francisco State. Alioto called in the National Guard and San Francisco police who tear-gassed, violently clubbed and handcuffed peacefully assembled students to bring an end to the protest.
As a result of that protest at Georgetown, which prevented Alioto from delivering his speech titled “Freedom of Speech on the Campus,” which was a mockery, considering he just prevented free speech of the students of San Francisco State University, I, along with 11 other Georgetown University students, was investigated by the United States House of Representatives Committee of Internal Security.
Apart from being investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee … I was also put on trial by Georgetown along with two or three other students. It was the first trial of students of its kind at Georgetown. I was in my senior year at the college and was … ultimately acquitted.
Future accounts and histories of the protest culture of Georgetown should not neglect the single most significant protest to have occurred at the university in opposition of the Vietnam War. No other protest led to a Congressional investigation or initiated a trial of its own students by the university. It was this demonstration that began other political demonstrations at Georgetown University. At the time, The Hoya decried the protest as a “fracas” and the “assailant’s violent disruption.” We were not assailants, and were in fact nonviolent. The recent story in The Hoya said that “The Hoya had become a bastion of conservatism in 1969.” That was true and the real story of what happened that important day in March of 1969 at Georgetown University has never been properly told.