In an Aug.
25 story about the establishment of an Abbie Hoffman archive
at UConn, the Chronicle notes that Abbie "is remembered
less fondly here for helping lead a 1987 (sic) takeover of Munson
Hall to protest CIA recruitment." Remembered less fondly
by whom, and why? I suppose the "whom" is obvious: the
administrators and their legacy who allowed lawbreakers like the
CIA to make recruits of our students. I would like to think the
memory of the protest is painted unpleasant by administrators'
regret at their failure to halt the recruiting, and not the more
likely embarrassment generated by the exposure of this injustice.
For those not familiar with the story, in 1986 (not 1987), police
arrested Hoffman for occupying Munson Hall (home of the Chronicle)
to protest CIA recruitment. Hoffman and 14 others (along with
President Carter's daughter, Amy) went on trial in Northampton
where they argued a "necessity" defense, which allows
one to commit a crime to prevent the commission of a greater crimein
this case, illegal recruitment by the CIA. A middle-aged, middle-class
jury heard evidence of the CIA's wrongdoing, and ruled not guilty
on the defendants' occupation of Munson to stop the CIA.
Hoffman and others placed themselves at risk to fight for social
justice, and we should honor such struggles. Students learn not
only in the classroom, but through observing the university's
actions and statements. Please ponder this latest lesson.
JAMES A.W. SHAW
Department of Sociology and
Graduate Employee Organization
Local 2322, United Auto Workers
Editor's note: The writer is correct about
the date of the Munson Hall takeover, which occurred in November