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Cities: Athens

Persecution City on The University of Georgia Campus

On April 10, 1968, several hundred University of Georgia students marched on campus to demand equal rights for women.  They wanted to eliminate school rules based on double standards, such as nightly curfews for women but not men, and a no-alcohol policy for all women, even of drinking age, but not for men.  Women students also had a separate Dean of Women, a separate student government, and other gender-based regulations.    

The demonstrators, including over one hundred women, began a sit-in at the Academic Building (renamed in 2001 as the Hunter-Holmes Academic Building).  William Tate, the University’s Dean of Men, stayed with the students at night.  University employees worked around the students by day.  Three days later, on Friday April 12, the students ended their occupation after police threatened to arrest them for violating the fire code.

In late May, Dean Tate suspended two of the student leaders involved in organizing the sit-in, George Langworth and David Simpson, president of the campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.  He placed a third student leader on probation.  On June 1, the students seen here erect a tent on the lawn in front of the Academic Building, christen the space “Persecution City,” and occupy it through the weekend.  Their position is that the University should punish the entire group rather than singling out a few individuals.    

This protest calls attention to how those who participated in the student movement of the 1960s appropriated tactics of the Civil Rights Movement.  The struggle for racial equality rapidly expanded to include such issues as gender equality, students' rights, poverty, classism, and opposition to the Vietnam War.  For example, two years later students at The University of Georgia organized marches in protest of the May 4, 1970, Kent State University killings.  The conservative wartime climate, the mandatory draft for young men aged eighteen and older, and the election of President Richard Milhouse Nixon, who supported the war, made many students openly question authority figures such as college administrators and police officers.

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Discussion Questions

1. Read our story Women Students at UGA.  Why would men and women students before the 1960s tolerate separate policies based on gender? Why did students in the 1960s begin to question campus policies about women?

2. As late as the early 1970s, educational institutions like The University of Georgia assumed a parental role in relationship to their students. This policy was called in loco parentis. How have the roles of universities and public schools shifted since the 1960s in relationship to this policy?

3. Do you think the Persecution City students organized an effective way to protest the social conditions on campus? In what ways would a group of students from your school constructively confront school authorities about a policy that you disagree with or oppose?

Take it to the Streets!

In American history, speaking truth to power through protest and debate has been a time-honored way in which the people make their voices heard to government and civic officials. Research one of the following moments from American history. Divide into two groups--the authorities in support of it, and those who oppose it--and stage a debate between the groups. Here are events we suggest that you choose from:

The Fourteenth Amendment
The Nineteenth Amendment
Executive Order 9066
The 1968 United Farm Workers' Boycott
Poor People's Campaign of 1968
Attica Prison Riots of 1971
The Appearance of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show (Sept. 9, 1956)
Tipper Gore's Campaign Against the Lyrics of Rap Artists 2 Live Crew

Writer: Aggie Ebrahimi   
Editors: Deborah Stanley and Diane Trap, Reference Librarians, The University of Georgia Main Library
Researchers: Lauren Chambers, Aggie Ebrahimi, Courtney Thomas, and Professor Barbara McCaskill  
Web Site Designer: William Weems   

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