The "McClellan Week"

Student Response McClellan ControversyStudent Response McClellan Controversy

"We have a small group of militants who want to tear down the whole house because they don't like the kitchen." ¹

        -- Jack R. Rombouts
        Assistant to the President

Student Response McClellan ControversyStudent Response McClellan Controversy

Hey Hey! Ogden J. How many profs did we lose today?"

--Student catchphrase during an all-night demonstration, 3,000 plus students in attendance²

Student Response McClellan Controversy

The "McClellan Controversy" as it is referred to today, sparked more action and support on behalf of the student body than any other cause of the time.  Even protest of the Vietnam War did not receive nearly as much interest from the student body.  This cause was unique because it united both students and faculty on a broad scale against the administration, namely the board of control as well as President Harden and later Presidents Ogden Johnson and John X. Jamrich.

More than 100 students wrote letters of opposition to the board of control pleading McClellan's case. They also sent a petition for reinstatement of McClellan which had received between 2,500-3,000 signatures.  After the administration ignored the students' demands and refused to reconsider McClellan's dismissal, the student body planned countless numbers of parades and marches; picket lines were set and classes were boycotted.  The vast reduction of class attendance even prompted Michigan legislators to threaten to close NMU saying, "In fairness to the taxpayers of Michigan, we consider it of utmost importance that the educational program be resumed immediately...The alternative is that the university be closed until the program can be resumed."³ The extent of success the class boycott reached remains unclear.  The administration maintained that class absenteeism was grossly exaggerated.

In an effort to bring outside intervention to NMU, students wrote letters to Michigan legislators and Governor George Romney urging them to step in.  To further their point, a group of students traveled together in a ten-car motorcade to Lansing to picket Governor Romney's home.  Among all the demonstrations, two rise above all others in intensity and numbers.  The first was an all-night demonstration on Oct. 26, 1967.  As least 3,000 students brought blankets and sang in support of McClellan well into the night.  The second demonstration took place on October 30, 1967 and involved a mock funeral of academic freedom.  The pallbearers led the procession through campus and after a fifteen minute wake in the lobby of Kaye Hall, the casket was buried in the University Center front lawn with a wooden cross marking the grave.

16 Points of Protest Planned by Students

  1. public Parade Wednesday Nov. 1, 1967 3pm-6pm
  2. effigy of President Johnson was burned
  3. fund raising dance (to help finance McClellan's legal proceedings)
  4. trick-or-treat for academic freedom (leaflets handed out pleading McClellan's Case)
  5. sky diver to land on campus
  6. sound truck was acquired
  7. boycott of classes to begin at noon on Oct. 27, 1967
  8. boycott of bookstore, Charcoal Room, and Wildcat Den
  9. library read-in (each student to take out 6 books)
  10. information stations with McClellan literature (kiosks set throughout campus)
  11. students urged to go to records office and have transcripts sent to other schools
  12. eat-in (all students eat at cafeteria at once)
  13. eat-out (all students boycott the cafeteria the next day)
  14. "love-out" on Sugarloaf Mountain 10-29-67
  15. funeral for academic freedom
  16. a "burn-in" of university catalogues, bulletins, and other "vulgar propaganda"

¹Taken from Rombout's letter to State Representative Charles H. Varnum dated 04 March 1968.

²Found in Archivist's File - Controversies - McClellan Case - Night Long Demonstration Conducted by Students - 27 October 1967.

³Found in Archivist's File - Controversies - McClellan Case - Legislators Threaten Possible Closing of University Here in Wake of Demonstrations - 02    November 1967.