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This is a federal case from Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation in its capital city. Here is any our end correspondent Bill Moroney. It began on May 4th 1970. The Caraquet that when they ran out of America back to Canada with. Me. President shares the sadness that all Americans feel about these unnecessary deaths that occurred
today in State University. The president feels this should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy. The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. The way of our knowledge that we make this is our summons to Grace. On January 20th 1969 President Nixon in his inaugural address said the greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker. It made it
clear he intended to lead America in answering the summons to greatness. Fifteen months later in search of peace and Indochina President Nixon made an announcement that was to rend America's dumb ass to peace and cooperation with the armed forces of South Vietnam attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian Vietnam border. Tonight American and South Vietnamese units. Will attack the headquarters for the entire communist military operation in South Vietnam. This key control center has been occupied by the North Vietnamese and beyond Cong for years in blatant violation of Cambodia's neutrality. Within days protests and student strikes it spread across this country's campuses like wildfire. The phrase campus on a rest became a cliched campus violence dreaded but a constant reoccurrence in the late spring of 1970. The problem grew to such alarming proportions that the president felt the need to appoint a commission to
study campus unrest. The president's commission on campus unrest is what this program intends to explore. But first a review of the incident that exploded the dilemma into the face of public attention. Kent State. By May 4th an ROTC building at Cannes had been set afire in approximately seven hundred fifty Ohio National Guardsmen who were there to quell disorders that had followed the announcement of the Cambodian incursion as the noon hour approach of that day. Students were congregating on the university Commons for a rally. Three anonymous again students who were there and ran with the crowd described what they saw happen next. I'm. Never going to get there and I wouldn't want to come on that was that was I don't know OK. Thanks Don for yes thank you for picking up. I'm back.
And I think it. May not be in fact good. And right. Think Finally I met Sylvester Douglas on the adjutant general of the Ohio National Guard explained the guard's side of the
incident. They ran out of Iraq. Back there right. Thanks for providing him with a. Prophetic powerful life changer. Brigadier General Robert Canterbury was in command of the Guard units at Kent State and he believed his men's lives indeed may have been in danger and the conditions were extremely I think there was a. Danger that people could have been killed. President Nixon's reaction to the incident was relayed to the public through his press secretary Ron Ziegler. The president shares the sadness that all Americans feel about these unnecessary deaths that occurred
today and can State University the president feels this should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy. It is the president's hope that this tragic and unfortunate incident will strengthen the determination of all the nation's campuses administrators faculty and students alike to stand firmly for the right which exist in this country of peaceful dissent and justice strongly against the resort to violence as a means of such expression. That one line when dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy was received with bitter disappointment by those who aligned themselves idealistically with the student position. Remember can't join the battle cries of peace now and end the war. A nationwide student strike was organized a peaceful march on Washington is now history and a presidential commission to investigate campus unrest was created and the commission was appointed by executive order on June 13th 1970.
Matt Byrne the executive director of the president's commission on campus unrest there held its first meeting in the latter part of you know the first part of July. President Nixon appointed me as executive director of the commission. The first thing we had to do was put together a staff and also get. There's a couple quarters where we could be housed staff really were broken into three separate occasions. Those that were involved in investigations primarily the Kent State and Jackson State incidents as well as investigations and interviews held in numerous campuses around the country. Other members of the staff were involved in research at his review of material that has been written before on this subject. Following the research it was unnecessary to prepare drafts for consideration by the commission put together a staff that consisted of one hundred forty seven individuals. A great majority of those were professional people either from the academic world or.
From law firms around the country that also include of course support staff and clerical staff at the same time that all of this work has been done and the commission participated in public hearings and held hearings in Washington D.C. and also in Los Angeles California and then later had three days of hearings. Each should can state and Jackson State the hearings were very beneficial to the commissioners and helping them to understand the problems that existed on the campuses around the country. Personal feelings I think about these problems were formulated as a result of what they heard at these hearings. Also that there was a great input to the commission members by papers that were either solicited by the commission or were voluntarily submitted to the commission that hundreds and hundreds of papers are both from people in the academic world and from citizens expressing their opinions and.
Suggested solutions to some of the problems of campus unrest Why don't Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton was named chairman of the campus unrest commission eight other members were appointed to the panel at the outset there was a blatant divergence of opinion among these nine. However it has sense been conceded by several members that one incident stepped their opinions into uniform motion. Jackson State only 10 days after the deaths at Kent two black students were shot to death and 12 injured when police fired a barrage into a girls dormitory following a night of disorder. Staff director Matt Byrne continues his explanation but let me say first that when you put nine individuals together to discuss a subject as broad as campus and rest there are lots of different opinions. There are many different opinions as to exactly what the commission should address itself to. There was a great difference in opinion is really what is campus unrest are we talking about campus violence or are we talking about disruptions on campus or are we talking about really just the peaceful protests that occurs on some campuses.
I think the commission slowly grew together I don't believe it was a sudden event that all of a sudden brought it together. They started to understand the problem started to appreciate the difficulty of the solutions arriving and solutions to the problem. And Jackson stayed I think for the first time. They sat through testimony and listened to witnesses describe one complete incident the incident that occurred at Jackson State bringing about the death of some of the students there. It was of course a very dramatic hearing. At one point in the in the hearing for instance there was a tape recording of Wade that had been made that evening by a newsman on the scene. This recording 28 seconds gunshots that were fired from the stream of storm Jackson. I had a very emotional effect I think upon most of the commissioners from
the commission really experienced almost first hand what violence was like on the campus. This commission was very very strong in its position against violence and violence on the part of students. Improper activity on the part of law enforcement officials that also was violent but it was uncompromising in its feeling that violence is never justified on or off a campus from Jackson State. The Commission moved on to Kent State where it all began. Matt Byrne Tell us what was learned there. The fact situation of course was entirely different it can state. They're the primary last and probably to be learned. We're two for one again. Students violence student violence is intolerable. The burning of the TC building the throwing rocks at National Guardsmen that you just can't have that on campuses. The other hand we had a problem there involving
the equipment law enforcement people the National Guard that are sent on a campus. If nothing else is learned from Canton surely we should appreciate the lesson that you cannot send men with rifles on campuses to confront protesting students except in very unusual circumstances where they're being faced with sniper fire or armed confrontation. And at that time there should be trained and I sniper rifle teams with the law enforcement agencies on September 26 the news conference was called in Washington and the main report of the commission's findings was released from. The mission on a campus on a raft which is probably internally the most pressing problem that besets in Iraq right now. And we have made it very clear I believe in this report that we condemn violence in any form by anybody. We also have made it very
clear that we are not in any way opposed to dissent. This is an absolutely valid. Effort in any democracy and certainly in the United States of America which stands on that basis since the days of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. And we believe that it is not only something not to be condemned dissent but it is something to be cherished. That's Commission Chairman William Scranton speaking Scranton voicing the unanimous opinion of the commission. So the campus in the country as a whole faced the same problem a crisis of violence and a crisis of understanding. We feel very strongly that the divisions within this nation. White against black and black against white young against old and old against young are such formidable proportions at this time in the United States that our divisions are hurting us tremendously.
And we have a matter of great urgency to reconcile them. We do not. The nation can only go down the road of more division. Which could end. In either anarchy or reparation. And in America. The choice would probably be repression under those circumstances stressing the urgency of reconciliation Scranton the commission and the report appealed to President Nixon to provide the moral leadership to bring the country together again. We think this urgency is extreme. We have the president of the United States. And this report. You not only get understand better genes. But to take the leadership. In bringing about the beginnings of reconciliation between the major forces of opposition and division to make it clear to people
everywhere that there is can be no understanding of our view points in this country that there must be. It doesn't mean that you have to agree but it means that you have to be tolerant of people that may have an opposite point of view and we think that tolerance has reached a new low. In addition to the president's specific recommendations were directed at all sections of the American community government at all levels was told to cool its rhetoric and strive for greater responsibility. Expressing sympathy and respect for law enforcement officers better training equipment and planning was recommended but so was an avoidance of uncontrolled and excessive responses to campus disorders. Universities were told to pull themselves together. Administrators were reminded of the university's heritage of openness freedom and a proving ground for revolutionary ideas. Faculty members who engaged in violence were told they have no place in the university community. Students were told in a sense to grow up as to remember their responsibilities and reminded of their
own power as individuals. All were told that violence cannot be condoned in any form or from any source. Matt Byrne spoke on the future of these recommendations. We don't feel that this is the final word and the final solution for campus problems that we know that it's not that we don't feel that these are steps that can be taken by different individuals by different groups or by different institutions and maybe if those steps are taken to relieve some of the tensions that are present today on the campuses. It's important I think an analysis of the report that the commission made to keep clearly in mind that this report suggests that many different groups many different people do things. It's not as some people say only the president that supposed to do something that's a very minor part. The president of the commission suggested should do certain things governmental leaders at all levels should do certain things. Ron Portman agencies should make certain corrections and strive for higher professionalization of their
forces at universities. Goodness knows that the universities has much many things to do themselves. Faculty students and all of these groups have to take some steps and all we can do is suggest these things. I hope that they read and analyze the recommendations the commissions. Put them into a presidential action directed at quelling campus disorder coincided with a final report issued by the campus unrest Commission President Nixon asked for and received from Congress a bill authorizing immediate FBI jurisdiction on campuses hit by other bombings or burnings. This was a direct offshoot of the bombing of the mathematics building which housed federal projects at the University of Wisconsin. Jan in Scranton disagreed with the emphasis the president placed on the action. But a more eloquent spokesman for the commission on this matter was Joseph Rhodes a black junior fellow at Harvard University. Rhodes at 22 the youngest member had once referred to himself as the commission student but never conveyed to a group of political black students
in this country that they're being shut down. And when you announce that you're going to just have a watch for bombers and no concern in terms of FBI agents for what happened at Kent State and what happened at Jackson State that would include that I've been concerned about it. Law enforcement. People. And I want to announce one of those additional FBI agents. Much much much differently if the president had said because I am deeply concerned with the deaths of students and those associated with University. I'm establishing especially with the FBI to do something about it. But if the bombings and the shootings. That would affect me very differently constantly repeated through the Commission's main report and then I get
an even stronger terms into special reports on the Canton Jackson is the wasteful stupidity of violence at the September 26 news conference. Chairman Scranton was direct and to the point there are those who were themselves and by us and we have spoken to them. Strong and I don't care whether they happen to be there. They are in our judgment. They should be aired out and prosecuted and the campus is no sanctuary. And Ohio a grand jury probing the can incident of May 4th certainly did not regard the campus as any form of sanctuary. The grand jury handed down 25 secret indictments on riot charges all against students or faculty members at Kent and blame permissiveness on the part of Kent State administrators for the shooting deaths thought to give the jury to make such indictments was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union. Students and people of like ideology were shocked by the grand jury action because no mention no blame no fault was even hinted in the direction of the National Guard who fired the
fatal volley continues to evade the crisis of student unrest the latest example of this is the action of the Ohio grand jury including the Ohio Guardsman and indicting students and administration pretty advanced a candidate last May after the state of Ohio has again become a nation of turmoil and nonviolently to violence and crime rates. Do student leaders mole hill John Berg the president of the Student National Education Association and Julie Butler a vice president of the same group and coincidentally the president of the Ohio chapter keep in mind that these two are typical of the moderate non radical leadership among the student ranks and that there are thoughts expressed here were conceived and delivered immediately following the announcement of the Ohio grand jury's findings now when Julie may very well represent a large segment of American youth who are torn between a
desire to make a responsible contribution to society on the one hand and frustration with the system on the other. I wouldn't I Think carefully now has any position of responsibility you would be a fine between you know it was for the first time in your student that you repine and I could say I mean I couldn't make you know me when they can't pay Thank you my student that I would actually can't say campus even me. I would be in agreement with anything I think. I think that after I would do anything. You know me and they say we have to use a different entity.
We want to overcome you know in the very difficult thing because it's getting very hard to say to them definitively what they should do. Because in many instances I didn't ride every alternative to change them which obviously is not doing the job because of the fact that so many people think you know the frustration level reaches such a point that I don't believe anyone could students what to do at a certain stage in that frustration build up. And we know that people and I want to become you Senator. I think once again I think the Malus if they were united. Believe me if I'm a fair catch I'd be more pragmatic to
frustrated student leaders. One predicting more campus on a rest along that line the final act of the president's commission on campus on rest was to compile a survey of university administrators faculty heads and student leaders. Staff director Matt Byrne explains why the survey was taken and what it included and as much as the commission only had nine ribs to perform its work. We wanted to get as much information as we possibly could from as many institutions around the country as available. Read prepared a survey that was sent to all of the institutions of higher education in the country to each institution we sent a questionnaire to the president the chairman of the faculty senate and the student body president. We received responses from eighteen hundred and ninety two thousand seven hundred eighty nine institutions that the questionnaires were sent to the largest response was from the administrators or college presidents. The smallest was
from the students unfortunately we had to send these questionnaires out in the middle of the summer when many of the students were not present on the campus. The questionnaire discussed past problems on the campus. And I also asked an open ended question as to what they anticipated future would bring in the next year or two on their campus. The survey report released without comment on the commission's last day of existence pointed to big expensive co-educational universities in the east that emphasize liberal arts and have ROTC programs as most likely to produce campus disorders in the future. At the same time an overwhelming majority of the administrators teachers and students polled believe that confrontations on the university would wane the possibility of violence however was by no means excluded anywhere. They endowed China was cited overwhelmingly as the external issue that could spark on the rest. But the war was not the dominant issue. Internal issues the commission found brought a greater response of
concern. Most authorities believe that violent confrontations could be touched off by two internal issues. Black student demands and student discontent over university regulations. Recommendations on how to prevent campus on a rest predominately included stopping the war are changing domestic policies recognizing student concerns ending outside interference with university activities. And for those students working within the system but by far the most frequent recommendation was improved communications among government representatives university administrators politicians parents students boards of trustees faculties and so forth through every level of society and ended communication between differing or opposing sides on any issue and was never solved anything. And when convictions are strong enough and a communication has brought confrontation and unrest in every report and release issued during its brief 19 week existence the Commission on campus unrest has stressed the
stupidity and opponents of violence yet the necessity of dissent. Chairman William Scranton put it quite well. An arrest if you don't know. Which is probably internally the. Most pressing problem that besets America there right now. And we have made it very clear I believe in this report that we condemn violence in any form by anybody. We also have made it very clear that we are not in any way opposed to dissent. This is an absolutely valid. Effort in any democracy and certainly in the United States of America which stands on that basis since the days of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. And we believe that it is not only something not to be condemned to stand but it is something to be cherished. This is Bill not only for the national educational radio network from Washington. You've been listening to a federal case a weekly examination of the national issue
from the perspective of our nation's capital. A federal case is produced with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
A Federal Case II
Episode Number
It Began on May 4th
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National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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"A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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Chicago: “A Federal Case II; 13; It Began on May 4th,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
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