Kent State shootings reverberated on Columbia’s campus

On May 3, the editors of the college newspapers at Brown, Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence, and the University of Pennsylvania agreed to publish a joint editorial condemning the American invasion of Cambodia and calling for a nationwide university strike to demand “an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Southeast Asia.” The editorial said in part:

“We must cease business as usual in order to allow the universities to lead and join in a collective strike to protest America’s escalation of the war. We do not call for a strike by students against the university, but a strike by the entire university— faculty, students, staff, and administrators alike.”


The editorial also called for “a massive demonstration in Washington on May 9” to oppose the expansion of the Southeast Asian conflict.

On May 4, 1970, the same day that this editorial appeared in The Columbia Spectator, four Kent State University students were killed and nine were injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd gathered to protest the Vietnam War. In the wake of this tragedy, a student-led strike forced the temporary closure of colleges and universities across the country – including Columbia University.

In the University Archives Protest and Activism Collection researchers can find examples of newsletters and flyers generated by students promoting this strike and associated demonstrations, with the addition of references to the Kent State tragedy.