TIME CAPSULE 1965 — This week holds a special place in history for those who want to be student-activists. A form of peaceful protest common on most college campuses, known as the “teach-in,” came to fruition as a way for professors and students to work together and enact change.
On March 24, 1965, the first ever teach-in was conducted at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as a way to protest American involvement in the Vietnam War. According to “Michigan in the World,” a publication featuring information and research about the history of the University of Michigan, the idea originated from a group of professors who had formed the “Committee to Stop the War in Vietnam.” Initially, they wanted to form a “work moratorium,” also known as a strike, but they received a lot of backlash from the administration and state government when the group of 58 professors presented their idea in a document called, “An Appeal to Our Students.” Those against the idea were reported as thinking that the participating professors were lazy and just wanted a day off from their classes. Michigan governor at the time, George Romney, believed a strike would be the “worst type of example for professors to set for their students.” Because they weren’t able to simply stop working, they decided instead to organize a teach-in. Regular classes for the day were cancelled and replaced by rallies, speeches and anti-war seminars.
Teach-ins have since been used by colleges and universities across the country. Even Keene State College has begun practicing this form of educating its community. KSC’s first teach-in was on Feb. 1, 2017, and it featured a wide variety of topics. Keene State College President at the time Anne Huot opened the event by saying, “What we’re doing today comes out of your concerns.” An article about the event in The Equinox, written by Grace Pecci, described the rest of Huot’s opening speech as discussing “the importance of reflecting on values, listening to multiple perspectives and unifying the campus.” Some of the featured topics were immigration, journalism, reproductive rights, the impact of social media, environmental issues and the political climate.
KSC’s second teach-in was later that year on Sept. 27 and was titled “Insider/Outsider Dilemma.” In an article in The Equinox about the event, written by Emma Hamilton, Interim President Melinda Treadwell said, “It’s the chance for us to extend our classroom and to engage our students in real, open conversations of topics you might not get in a class. It’s the chance to make our classroom walls fall apart, disappear and students actually getting conversation in a different way.” Treadwell said she heard a lot of positive feedback about the event and hopes to keep it going in the future. “Our students love it from everything I am hearing. If it’s as strong for students as it is for me and my staff and faculty, then I definitely want it to keep happening,” Treadwell said.
Abbygail Vasas can be contacted at email@example.com