Tagged: ROTC

Student Protests on the UO Campus: Demonstrations of the Late 1960s

A new exhibit, “Dissent and Defiance: Pacifists, Student Protesters, and Advocates for Economic Justice,” is now on display in the Paulson Reading Room in Special Collections and University Archives, on the second floor of Knight Library, through the winter term. In addition to conscientious objectors during World War II and the Occupy Eugene movement, the exhibit includes a look at student protests on the University of Oregon campus during the first year of Robert D. Clark’s tenure as president of the university. In conjunction with the exhibit, we dove into the archives to learn more about the tumultuous period of protest on the Eugene campus during the 1969-1970 academic year.

1969_ROTC_protest_President_ClarkProtestors primarily focused on what they perceived to be the university’s capitulation to American involvement in the Vietnam War. At a time when universities were dealing with the turbulence of student bodies that were becoming increasingly activist, students in Eugene increasingly focused their ire on one particular campus institution as the embodiment of Oregon’s acquiescence to the war effort – the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, which had been established five decades earlier as a means of preparing an Oregon Battalion for World War I. As protestors homed in on the ROTC as the local representative of American policy in Southeast Asia, tensions heightened at the university. The charged atmosphere in Eugene set the scene for both non-violent protest events, as well as escalating violence. The University of Oregon witnessed sit-ins, arson, vandalism, and National Guard intervention during this period.

By drafting procedures that afforded students their Constitutional rights and narrowly defined the rules of engagement for police intervention in campus affairs, President Clark and the UO administration limited violent actions on campus. Though arson and instances of vandalism also occurred during this turbulent year, and the National Guard appeared that spring on the Eugene campus, no fatalities or serious injuries resulted from protests on the UO campus. Clark’s willingness to engage in discussion with and protect the rights of student protestors thus kept the situation in Eugene from escalating to the point of another Kent State.

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Colonel John Leader, The Man Who Prepared Oregon for World War I

UARef3_b0073_f0010-page-001An interesting question about a seminal figure on the University of Oregon campus in the early 20th century came in last week. We received an email from a researcher in Patrickswell Town, County Limerick, Ireland that sought more information about Colonel John Leader, the man who formed the ROTC program on the University of Oregon campus and played an integral role in preparing Oregon for World War I. Below is a paraphrased summary of the request:


We have a building which we have been advised belongs to the family of  Lieutenant-Colonel John Leader 16th (Service – Pioneer) Battalion. We are trying to protect this building for future generations and have it claimed as a listed building before some friendly local developer decides to tear it down and build some modern apartment block or something worse!! We’re hoping to use this building as the local community hall that would serve the good of the local village, young and old alike, but I’m not very good at searching the net I’m afraid.

If you could provide some background or pictures on Lieutenant-Colonel John Leader, that would be just amazing and all I can offer is a heartfelt thank you and possibly an invite to the opening of the centre once we secure the building as a listed building and have it restored to its natural beauty. I cannot offer much more by way of begging… Our little village is tiny in size — 3 pubs, 3 food stores and petrol stations, 2 hair dressers, 1 chemist, 1 school, 1 local GAA hall, and a very much needed building that reminds us all where we came from.


This inquiry led us to investigate deeper in the stacks. What we learned was the story of a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life.

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