Students Strike Against the Vietnam War

Collage of photos of Vietnam-era protests at Wheaton

Wheaton students, along with college students across the country, mobilized against the Vietnam War on May 5, 1970. Faculty, in support of the students, voted 52-21 to go on strike with them. All “normal academic activities” were suspended. Classes were canceled, sit-ins and lectures were arranged, and students pamphleted the local supermarket. Faculty were given the option of marking grades as incomplete or allowing students to self-schedule exams.

Commencement was held on the afternoon of May 30, 1970.  Professor Paul Helmreich was chosen by the graduating class to speak on the subject, despite the fact that a speaker had already been chosen. Helmreich took the opportunity to delve into the goals and methods of the scholars’ strike–to explain that it was not motivated by a desire to get out of writing papers and taking exams–the Wheaton community chose to intentionally focus their attention and mental acuities on the problems of the war and the military reprisal against student demonstrations at Kent State.

All materials related to Wheaton’s 1970 strike are available online in the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives’ Kent State Shootings Digital Archive.