The Campus Chronicle
Vol. XVI, Issue 1
for the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts
Sept. 1, 2000

Page OneGrain & ChaffObituariesLetters to the ChronicleArchivesFeedbackWeekly Bulletin

Page OneGrain & ChaffObituariesLetters to the ChronicleArchivesFeedbackWeekly Bulletin






Letters to the Chronicle

A differing perspective on Abbie Hoffman

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 crime—in 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.

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 1986.

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