May 1965


In 1965, teach-ins, conceived along the same lines as sit-ins, cropped up in cities across the country. DU held one on May 20, 1965 though it was sparsely attended. This event, however small, showed that the DU campus was thinking about, how the peace movement was beginning to politicize a generation, and how faculty and students might begin to challenge the status quo in ways connected to national resistance efforts. 

Access the full article "Teach-In Draws Crowd" from DU Clarion, May 25, 1965 (on last page).

May 20, 1965: University of Denver Teach-In<br /><br />


January – April 1967

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)

In early 1967, the University got its first affiliate of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They held a well-attended event “Gentle Thursday,” in April 1967, which SDS was clear to say was not a “political or social protest,” but a chance for students to build community and get to know one another. 

Access the full article "Students Organize SDS Affiliate: Activist Role Planned for Future" from DU Clarion January 10, 1967.

Access the full article "Gentleness Comes to Harper's Garden" from DU Clarion April 25, 1967 (on last page).

October 1967

Mendel Cooper Burns Draft Card 

On October 16, 1967, DU student Mendel Cooper, the child of Holocaust survivors, partially destroyed his draft card during a rally organized by the DU chapter of SDS as part of a series of nationwide protests. Alongside the other 1,400 who burned or mutilated their draft cards, Cooper was brought up on charges, with the potential of $10,000 fine and 5 years in jail, although few received jail sentences. Cooper went to trial and was found guilty in March 1968. 

Access the full article "Guilty verdict 'no surprise' says war resister Mendel Cooper" from DU Clarion March 5, 1968.

March 1968

Students Bill of Rights

From fall 1967 onward, the SDS activities on campus were largely focused on shared governance efforts for students. An important agenda item was the Students’ Bill of Rightswritten and voted down in a prior year, and again read at the Board of Trustees in March 12, 1968 and not ratified. The major sticking point was section 3, “students have the right to fully participating membership, with equal voice and vote, on those University committees and organizations that affect students’ academic affairs, and absolute authority over all University committees and organization that affect solely the personal affairs of the students.”

Access the full article "Activists picket trustee meeting; Student Affairs Committee formed" from DU Clarion March 29, 1968.

April 4, 1968

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated

King had come to the DU campus twice, the last time in May 1967, both to talk about his ongoing work for civil rights and working to combat poverty, as well as encouraging students who attended to resist the draft. While King is certainly mentioned in articles through the rest of the academic year, the overwhelming emphasis continues to be on the students’ bill of rights and anti-war activities. 

Access full article "King Speaks Out At DU Arena; Says Don't Study War No More" from the DU Clarion, May 23, 1967.

April 25, 1968

All Undergraduate Student Association (AUSA) Sit-In 

Three weeks after King’s assassination, DU students attempting to pressure the Board of Trustees into greater autonomy and authority for self-government. The coverage of the event itself centers largely on the students’ demand to allow a graduate student to run for election to the All-Undergraduate Student Association (AUSA) - but it seems that this was largely a tactic designed to pressure the Board, which had just voted down the Students’ Bill of Rights, to reconsider. 


Photograph Credit: University of Denver Student Protests Collection. Photographer unknown.

October 11, 1968

Anti-George Wallace Protest 

George Wallace was the 45th governor of Alabama. Famous for his belief in “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and called by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 “perhaps the most dangerous racist in America today,” Wallace was a polarizing politician who ran as a third-party candidate for the American Independent Party in the 1968 presidential election.  

On October 11, 1968, Wallace attempted to give a campaign speech on the steps of the Denver Capitol Building. Members of the DU Chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) joined students and other protesters from across the state to disrupt Wallace’s speech. Protesters carried signs likening Wallace to Adolf Hitler, shouting: “Sieg Heil!” The protesters were so disruptive and loud that Wallace was forced to leave the stage and abandon his speech. 

August 1969

Woodstock Music Festival Takes Place

Woodstock, a music festival from which “Woodstock West” gained its name, took place in 1969. In addition to the name, the students who made up the Woodstock West community referenced Joni Mitchell’s song, recorded by Crosby, Stills, and Nash for their Déjà Vu album, in the cover sheet for their “statement of purpose” for the community. Rumors about Crosby, Stills, and Nash “walking through Woodstock” would permeate the encampment during the last few days, though the band never materialized. 

Woodstock Music &amp; Art Festival

Photograph Credit: Woodstock Whisperer, Wiki Commons.