GW Sino Soviet: 1969
Forty members of the George Washington University Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) seized Maury Hall, home of the school's Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies, April 23, 1969.

The students demanded that the Institute be disbanded; the school sever ties Naval Logistics Research Laboratory and the Human Resources Research Office; the school disaffiliate itself from the ROTC program and end military recruiting on campus; and that GW adopt an open admissions policy for African Americans.

The demonstration, sponsored by the GW chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) charged that the Institute was not a center of learning, but an anti-communist bastion that aided the federal government in the Cold War.

Fighting broke out between some fraternity members and supporters of SDS while the occupation took place and students ended the sit-in about 3:30 am August 24th.

Minor damage to desks and file cabinets occurred as the occupiers sought evidence of the institute’s collusion and used desks to barricade themselves in.

The documents were later obtained by the alternative newspaper The Washington Free Press that in turn published some of the documents outlining the university’s role in the Cold War.

Much of the funding for the Institute came from the Ford Foundation that allegedly acted as a conduit for the Central Intelligence Agency.

University president Lloyd Elliot acted quickly to suppress the demonstrations and block student demands.

The University brought internal charges against a number of students, had police arrest several non-students and refused all of the SDS demands. No charges were brought against the fraternity members involved in assaults against SDS supporters.

Among those arrested were Cathy Wilkerson, Washington regional secretary of SDS and Christopher Webber of the Washington Free Press. Charges were later reduced to disorderly conduct and a $10 fine was issued.

During the school’s internal disciplinary process, some students opted for private hearings, but most took part in a public trial that drew hundreds of students who forced their way into the hearing.

A vigorous defense by attorney Michael Tigar resulted in the dropping of vandalism charges against the students. However, seven students were expelled, including GW SDS president Steven Nick Greer, and two others received suspensions of a year.

A second building seizure in protest of suspensions and expulsions occurred after the May 1969 verdicts, but the threat of an injunction ended it quickly.

On appeal to the University’s Hearing Committee, discipline for all nine students was reduced to a reprimand.
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