A Decade of Dissent: Student Protests at the University of Michigan in the 1960s
War Research and Anti-Recruiting Activities
Prior to the 1960s, the research projects done by the Engineering Department which were sponsored by the US government and its defense contractors were moved out of Ann Arbor to Willow Run Laboratories in nearby Ypsilanti, MI.
Protestors demonstrate against corporate recruiters
with known war research affiliations, from Michigan
Daily Photograph collection, Box 12.
Tensions over the university's involvement in secret war research culminated in October 1967, when hundreds of students occupied the Administration Building. They were opposed to the University's involvement in a Department of Defense project with the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
In 1968, the Research Policies Committee (RPC) reviewed the issue of secret research and recommended that the university decline contracts that would ultimately result in human death or incapacitation.
Protests at a recruiting event by Dow
Chemical, ©Andrew Sacks.
Another target of student protestors were corporate recruiters whose employers were known to be involved either in the war or other undesirable practices. Companies such as Michigan-based Dow Chemical (who manufactured napalm), Atlantic Richfield Company, Exxon, Hughes Aircraft and others were repeatedly interrupted during their efforts to meet with potential employees.
One protest of Atlantic Richfield in 1970 resulted in a 20-year old woman being charged with malicious destruction of property after she poured oil and feathers on the stairs of West Hall, where the Engineering Department was housed at the time.
Protests at a recruiting event by