While angry students at Berkeley and Kent State made headlines for their impassioned confrontations with administrators during the ’60s, back on the East Coast, Penn was pursuing its own, decidedly less militant quest for justice and equality. Throughout that decade, Penn students protested every issue that had them riled: the Vietnam War, construction of the University City Science Center, chemical weapons research, curfews, dress codes and housing discrimination.
On Nov. 8, 1967, a group of Penn students held a seven-hour sit-in on the third floor of Logan Hall to protest on-campus recruiting by Dow Chemical, makers of the controversial toxin napalm. All began calmly enough, with students stationing themselves outside, but not physically obstructing, the Dow recruiter’s office.
As the Nov. 9 edition of the Daily Pennsylvanian reported, the protest “became tense” at 11 a.m., when the demonstrators began singing. At that point, acting dean Gerald Robinson warned the protesters that the singing interfered with University activities and called in the police, who stood by for an hour until the singing died down. “I don’t want the kids to go to jail,” said Robinson, according to the DP, “but on the other hand I don’t want to be put in the position of not being able to back up what the University says.” When the Dow recruiter left, shortly after 5 p.m., the students ended their peaceful vigil.
For more information and photos on this and other notable events in Penn’s history, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on November 3, 2005