Reading “Occupying Nassau Hall” (cover story, Jan. 13) brought back memories. In 1972 I joined about 100 other Princeton students for a sit-in (our term for “occupy”) at Nassau Hall. We took over the main room, site of trustee meetings, and demanded an end to the Vietnam War — or, at least, the elimination of ROTC on campus. Amid clouds of marijuana smoke, the strumming of folk guitars and some extracurricular activities by couples in the dark corners, we chanted our slogans: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is gonna win!” President Robert Goheen ’40 *48 entered the room, with aides in tow, to address us, and we shouted him down. The poor, bow-tied man, the picture of academic dignity, turned on his heel and walked out. To my memory, it was reported that he then uttered the phrase that often would be quoted: “This isn’t Princeton,” although PAW places this catchphrase sometime earlier, at a protest at the Institute for Defense Analyses.
What a contrast with the protest of the Black Justice League. The students are polite, they speak with President Eisgruber ’83 for five hours, they chant about love. The demand is for “cultural competency training” and affinity housing; they do their homework. The picture that accompanies the article says it all: These are respectful young people, polite, diverse, dialoguing, posting, and, apparently, effective. The demands, if not wholly met, will be addressed. This is Princeton.
As for my crowd, we were photographed individually by campus security and arraigned in student court. I received a year of disciplinary probation — not a trivial matter when a false move thereafter would have resulted in expulsion, loss of my student deferment, and service in the wartime U.S. Army. But there was a bright side: We did get rid of ROTC, and we ended the Vietnam War.