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Mark Simonson

April 28, 2014

Student issues caused strike at Delhi Tech in May 1970

(Continued)

The administration pretty much ignored the activities of the striking students and took the stance, “As long as they aren’t destroying anything, we aren’t going to do anything.”

Students continued to make their points of dissatisfaction. Cars were parked in forbidden places to dramatize the need for better parking. Kegs of beer and hot dogs were brought to the college quadrangle, dramatizing their demand for beer on campus.

By Sunday, May 2, administrators and an 11-member student steering committee began meeting to discuss student demands. That continued for a few days, with regular classes went uninterrupted. By Tuesday night, about 1,000 students met in the college gymnasium, “and with raised fists and resounding shouts, voted to continue their strike.” Other than this, the campus retained a relative air of calm.

On Thursday, May 7, the students met again and voted to close the college for a long weekend. This came after a 1967 Delhi Tech graduate, Craig Rustay, spoke to the students as he had been an eyewitness to the scene of violence recently at Kent State University. In regard to the students’ call for closing the campus, he admonished them to consider the consequences of a prolonged closing. 

“You are here to get an education and without this education, you cannot occupy positions of responsibility within the framework of our society, where you will be able to accomplish your goals.”

Surprisingly, on Friday, May 8, the strike was reported to be over, but the negotiations continued in dealing with student grievances. The strike was suddenly resumed late Wednesday, May 13.

This time, there were some violent actions taken. Two fires were reported on campus, one of which destroyed the interior of a utility shed, with the other gutting the interior of a maintenance building. Other arson attempts were made on Monday, May 19. Some calls were made to the college and to the Delaware County Sheriff’s office, saying there were going to be some dynamite explosions “soon.” No traces of dynamite were found at the targeted sites. Two other arson attempts over the weekend of May 23 were also foiled by campus security officers. 

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Mark Simonson

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