A Call for Equality’s Aftermath

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1964-2013

April 2, 1970

 

To Alumni and parents:

Students demonstrate on campus in support of the occupation of Lorimer Chapel

We have recently been through a difficult time at Colby, and I think it would clear the air and dispel a number of misapprehensions if we were to provide some sort of summary of the events and their implications. That will be the intent of this document.

On the evening of March 2 seventeen black students, all but five of the twenty-two black students presently enrolled, chose to occupy Lorimer Chapel, tying the doors behind them and denying access to officers of the college except those whom, along with certain students and other visitors, they chose to admit. This occupation came without warning…

…These recent events have been especially difficult for all of us because of our innate sympathy and deep concern for the cause of equality of opportunity in education. But there are certain ways to accomplish objectives and there are certain ways not to do so. On the advice of legal counsel I have announced publicly to our college community that henceforth trespass or denial of access to a building at the college will bring legal action as quickly as it can be arranged, irrespective of the motives of those who are engaged in the illegal action.

But there is a positive side, fortunately, to this episode. The task of the college is to press rapidly forward to achieve appropriate action. We have committees for these purposes. The commitment of the college to equal opportunity and to redress of the injustices to black society over centuries must be reaffirmed and, within the capacities of Colby as an institution, concretely expressed. We have a long heritage of equal opportunity. The present times are more dramatically expressive of the importance of that heritage than they have ever been. It is a challenge we must respond to, and I know we will.

 

Robert E. L. Strider, President