This article is part of a series The Miami Student is running about the University Archives. All information in the following article was obtained from the University Archives with the help of University Archivist Bob Schmidt.
Weeks before the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of protestors at Kent State University, Miami University had its own Vietnam War protest which took place April 15, 1970. In fact, Miami is the first university in Ohio to have students occupy the Naval ROTC building, then Rowan Hall, in protest to the war.
The occupation of Rowan Hall by over 300 students began after a rather peaceful, anti-war rally on the front lawn of Roudebush Hall. Once the rally started breaking up, a few dedicated demonstrators started gathering a group to protest at the ROTC building.
The protestors’ demands, according to the special issue of The Miami Student, which was printed the day following the sit-in, included:
1.) No academic credit for ROTC
2.) The university be given a one-year time period in which to get ROTC off campus
3.) No reprisals or repression to be taken against students participating in this demonstration
4.) A vote of support for all the black demands made on campus
The Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Etheridge spoke to the demonstrators, in order to end the protest.
He told the students they had been heard and said if they wanted to continue discussions further, Hall Auditorium had been opened for them.
Etheridge spoke to the crowd multiple times, gave several warnings and even a few threats of suspension. After an appropriate amount of time had passed without any of the activists budging from their locations, Etheridge announced, “Students present at this point are no longer students at Miami University.”
By the time this announcement was made, Ohio State Highway Patrol had been called in to break the protest up, which caused about half the students to leave.
When the six-hour occupation was broken up, the protesters faced breaking and entering charges, suspension from Miami and physical force from the police.
To remove protestors from the building, state troopers used violent force, including, mace, tear-gas, hair pulling and police dogs.
There were reports that the tear-gas left some people temporarily paralyzed. By the end of the night, 184 were arrested for trespassing.
After this protest, the NROTC program was moved to Millet Hall, where it is still located today. The vacated Rowan Hall became an art museum, then the Art Center. Today the building is being constructed into part of the Armstrong Student Center.