No more bombs: Student coalitions formed during
the 1960s and fought to bring together liberals,
radicals, activists, scholars, students and
faculty. They envisioned a society where people
at all levels had control of decisions or choices
that would affect them.
In October 1968, Mount Holyoke students created
a branch of the national organization, Students
for a Democratic Society (SDS). It was the
first major political and social activist organization
to appear on campus. At Mount Holyoke, SDS
members had specific goals and objectives.
These included the selection of a new college
president, changes made to the investment policy
of the College, and a major overhaul of the
College’s social rules and regulations.
At the national level, Mount Holyoke students
fought against laws and policies that penalized “immoral” behavior.
Students held demonstrations to dramatize
a grievance. However, a demonstration was
only part of the process to effectively initiate
change. The entire structure had to be confronted.
Initially, the Mount Holyoke chapter of SDS
focused their efforts on anti-war activities,
the situation of unions for non-academic
personnel at Mount Holyoke, and an investigation
of the College’s investment policy.
Although there were many protests and demonstrations
at Mount Holyoke, one dramatically stands out.
In May 1968, 62 demonstrators, comprised of
students, faculty members, and one Amherst
student, protested the Vietnam War at a series
of ceremonies commemorating the 25th anniversary
of the first graduating class of female Marine
Officers, commissioned at the College in 1943.
It was a dignified and well-organized silent
demonstration, in which all the participants
wore black armbands and several carried signs
reading "Peace in Vietnam" and "End
the War in Vietnam." At a dinner held
following demonstration, Colonel Streeter,
a Mount Holyoke alumna who had been in the
first graduating class of marines, told the
audience that she respected Mount Holyoke more
at that moment than she had done 25 five years
before. She praised the College for allowing
the students the right to dissent, and also
commended the students for an orderly demonstration.
The fight against segregation: Civil Rights
were almost certainly America's most compelling
crisis in the 1960s, and it was also a concern
for Mount Holyoke women. Faculty and students
became involved in the Civil Rights movement
on campus through the organization, Civil Actions
Group, as well as personal protests.