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Students Trying To Convert Congressmen

WASHINGTON (AP)- Hundreds of college students, schooled in legislative lobby techniques, are popping into Capitol Hill offices and hinting at a failing grade at the polls for Congressmen flunking their antiwar test.

Encouraged and sometimes accompanied by sympathetic university and college administrators and faculty, students have come from campuses across the nation to talk about America's role in Southeast Asia with friends and foes in the Senate and House.

"We may be able to make some converts," Charles I. Schottland, acting president of Brandeis University, told more than 500 young men and women from Eastern schools who jammed into a House hearing room Monday. He said they represented 35 states.

Rep. Edward I. Koch, D-N.Y., told the students to ask congressmen "what they are doing in terms of closing out this war now- and tell them if they continue to support the war you are going to oppose them in their districts" when they seek re-election. That drew a burst of applause.

At other meeting rooms scattered across Capitol Hill, groups gathered from such campuses as Yale, California, Virginia and Minnesota universities, plus a host of smaller schools.

Switching from street demonstrations to lobbying in the halls of Congress, the students sought out home-state senators and representatives for face-to-face discussions- some of them private, most of them public.

Many students had done their homework. They were prepared with voting records and home-district strengths and weaknesses of their congressmen; they had background information on key resolutions.

They also were boning up on the language of parliamentary procedure to keep track of measures moving through the legislative process.

Most students concentrated on congressmen publicly uncommitted on such proposals as halting funds for U.S. operations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia except for the withdrawal of American forces.

They received an information kit that contained helpful hints on how to get around on Capitol Hill-including instructions on eating and tourist facilities.

Yale President Kingman Brewster, among the administrators attending the meetings with congressmen, said he was pleased by the reception. But, he added, "the test will be action- not the cosmetics of hospitality."

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The massive student-led strike against the Vietnam War in May of 1970 was not restricted to teach-ins, rallies and other forms of protest. In mid-May, students, professors and college administrators from across the country went to Washington to speak with their Congressmen. The United States Constitution includes checks and balances so that war powers are divided between the Congress and the President. Among its powers the Congress can declare war and can "raise and support armies". The President is named "Commander in Chief" of the U.S. Military. The President's powers as Commander in Chief, however, are not clear. Just what the powers of the Commander in Chief are remains debated to this day. Although Congress had not declared war, with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964, the House of Representatives and the Senate gave President Johnson permission to take broad military action in Vietnam. The students and citizens who traveled to Washington D.C. in the spring of 1970, hoped to persuade their representatives to become more actively involved in decisions about the United States military operations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.


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"Students Trying to Convert Congressmen" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Recorder
date   May 12, 1970
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   7.0"
width   2.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L06.046

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See Also...

"Communication Trouble" editorial in The Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"UM Students Protest Move Into Cambodia" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

"War Protest Keeps New England College Campuses in Ferment" article in The Greenfield Recorder newspaper

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