1973.03.01: Fonda at Uni (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]

Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 5 [Issue #9], March 1973

Fonda at Uni
[By Michael Letwin]

Jane Fonda’s speaking engagement at University High on February 22nd, was one of the best things that has happened there for a long time. It was certainly a victory for students, both at Uni and elsewhere, and it could mean much in the beginnings of a lot more political awareness and activity on the part of the students.

Jane spoke about the present situation in Indochina, emphasizing that, although the U.S. military is out of Viet Nam, U.S. business interests are not, and that this is still a continuation in many ways of U.S. foreign policy in Asia and the world. Jane also talked about her recent trip to Viet Nam, and about what would happen in terms of re­uniting the country.

The rally was attended by about 1,000 students, parents, teachers, and media, not to mention numerous undercover Board of Education rent-a-cops and two actual members of the Board of Education.

The reaction to the talk was very good. People listened, and asked really intelligent questions. When the talk ended at 1:10 (she only had a little less than 40 minutes including questions), Jane announced that she would carry the discussion further in H-41 for all those without further classes.

But Mr. Welch (the principal), no doubt pressured by the Board of Education, told her that she could not speak on campus any longer. So the 2 or 3 hundred people that had come up to hear her were told that the rest of the discussion would be continued at Stoner Park, where about 100 people showed up, including two undercover police.

A lot of questions that people had about Viet Nam were answered, as well as questions about what they could do to help raise medical aid for Indochina, and carry on education about the War in school.

This idea caught on quickly, and it was decided to set up a committee to deal with different projects around the War. About 80 names were collected, of people who are interested in working on the different points mentioned above. These committees have been set up, and if you are interested in working on them, please get in contact with us.

However, it seems that we are in for another fight with the administration, for already they have denied the committees’ permission to hold a meeting on campus discuss the different projects!


On Friday, the 23rd, Robert Dornan spoke “in response” to Jane Fonda, saying pretty much the things that you would expect to read in your history textbook: that (among other things) the reason so many hospitals in Viet Nam have been destroyed is because the Vietnamese have persisted in shooting down U.S. planes, which in turn conveniently fall on the hospitals.

He made many other ridiculous statements, and the event finally culminated when his wife hit two people, a Vietnam Veteran, and a student at Uni, Larry Robinson.


Another issue that arose in the midst of the excitement was the verbal attack by members of the “Student Government” on the tactics of the RED TIDE in the course of winning the victory over speakers. They claimed that the reason that Jane had been able to speak had been because of the generosity of the administration, and the tactfulness of “Student Government”.

They also claimed that since it was not the pressure tactics employed by the RED TIDE and students in general, that we took more credit for the event and victory then we deserve.

We replied in a letter, explaining that this victory, like every other, was won because people got together around a common cause, and forced the administration to give in to the demand that students be able to hear who they wish. Those wishing to see that letter should speak to the leaders of “Student Government”.


All in all, we feel that the Jane Fonda incident was indeed a victory for all students. It has helped set a precedent that students can hear who they wish on campus.

But we feel that it is just as important to act upon what Jane said, to educate ourselves and others about the truth of the War in and of American policy, and to raise funds to help rebuild Indochina. Without these followups and discussion, we remain in the same place before.

And if we do, what is the point in education at all?


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