In May 1970 the University of Cincinnati closed its doors to students and canceled classes. Campus demonstrations over the escalating Vietnam War and the invasion of Cambodia, the deaths of protesters at Kent State University and Jackson State University, and discontent with the administration’s efforts in enfranchising African American students led to the occupation of Van Wormer Hall and Beecher Hall. UC came to a standstill as students, faculty, staff, and administrators grappled with the issues of world turmoil being faced at the university.
The events of 1970 represented the cultural and political upheaval of the era, but they also symbolized something much deeper than that: students at any period in history question the status quo. They question authority, they question policies and values and ethics and accepted truths. After all, isn’t that what a university is about, to question and to seek answers? To intellectually explore and to socially experiment? A college education is at once a fear of the unknown and the exhilaration of discovery. And, these aspects of education are most visibly evident in the reaction of students to the world problems they face.
Posters have been distributed on campus throughout the years calling for student action regarding war. In the University Archives, these handbills and fliers are an important documentation of university life because they are ephemeral – often tacked, stapled, and nailed outside in the weather, disappearing shortly after the event they promote. They range from a World War I poster pleading for help to end the starving brought on by war to posters protesting the Vietnam War, Bosnia and Haiti, the Gulf War and the War in Iraq – along with two examples of counter-protest events. These images reflect UC history, and, the heritage of higher education.
The University Archives also holds documentation of protests on campus from 1969-1990. The Campus Unrest Collection, UA-04-12, includes news clippings, policy statements, and other printed materials. The finding aid for this collection is available at: