Columbia University Protests of 1968 (Part 1)
1969 Watch the full film: The Columbia University protests of 1968 were among the many student demonstrations that occurred around the world in that year. The Columbia protests erupted over the Spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over an allegedly segregatory gymnasium to be constructed in the nearby Morningside Park. The protests resulted in the student occupation of many university buildings and their eventual violent removal by the New York City Police Department. In early March 1967, a Columbia University Students for a Democratic Society activist named Bob Feldman discovered documents in the International Law Library detailing Columbia's institutional affiliation with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a weapons research think-tank affiliated with the U.S. Department of Defense. The nature of the association had not been, to that point, publicly announced by the University. Prior to March 1967, IDA had rarely been mentioned in the U.S. media or in the left, underground or campus press. A few magazine articles on IDA had appeared between 1956 and 1967 and IDA had been mentioned in a few books for academic specialists published by university presses. The RAND Corporation, not the Institute for Defense Analyses, was the military-oriented think-tank that had received most of the publicity prior to March 1967. But after Feldman's name appeared in some leftist publications in reference to the Columbia-IDA revelation, the FBI opened a file on him and started to investigate him, according to Feldman's de-classified FBI files. The discovery of the IDA documents touched off a Columbia SDS anti-war campaign between April 1967 and April 1968, which demanded that the Columbia University administration resign its institutional membership in the Institute for Defense Analyses. Following a peaceful demonstration inside the Low Library administration building on March 27, 1968, the Columbia Administration placed on probation six anti-war Columbia student activists, who were collectively nicknamed "The IDA Six," for violating its ban on indoor demonstrations. Columbia's plan to construct a gymnasium in city-owned Morningside Park also touched off negative sentiment on campus. One of the causes for dispute was the gym's proposed design, which would have included access for residents of Harlem to a dedicated community facility on its lower level. This design was a solution to the gym's sitting on the park's highly-inclined slope, on the bottom of which is Harlem and on the top of which is Morningside Heights, where Columbia's campus is situated. By 1968, 7 years after the gym's proposal had been hailed as mutually beneficent, the civil rights movement cast things in a different light. The previously pragmatic design was now interpreted as segregationist and therefore discriminatory, and labeled "Gym Crow". In addition, others were concerned with the appropriation of land from a public park.