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Stanford Stories From the Archives


The social and political movements that took hold of Stanford in the 1960s reached their peak in the 1970s. From 1970-1972, protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, and other political activities sometimes turned violent as students openly clashed with police and campus administration in an effort to combat the war at home.

Sexual politics came to the fore, with gay liberation and women’s liberation evolving side by side. The Gay People’s Union (later renamed the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Center) opened its doors in the Old Fire Truck House in 1970.

Title IX, a portion of the United States Education Amendments of 1972 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, was a turning point for women. That year, the Faculty Senate endorsed removing pre-set targets for the undergraduate male-female ratio, and in March 1973, an original provision of the Founding Grant was restored, requiring trustees "to afford equal facilities and give equal advantages in the university to both sexes." The Organization of Stanford Women Athletes (OSWA) formed in 1974; in 1975, President Lyman met with OSWA representatives regarding their concerns, and men’s and women’s sports programs were merged into a new Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) to better comply with Title IX.

Consciousness about racism, and cultural sensitivity concerns evolved as well. On March 2, 1972 the ASSU Senate voted in favor of President Lyman's recommendation, based on increasing criticism from Native American students and other sectors of the Stanford community, that the "Indian" mascot, adopted in the 1930s, be discontinued.

Economic justice concerns prompted the anti-Apartheid disinvestment movement, which began in 1977 at Stanford University and Michigan State University, where students organized to demand that the university divest from companies that traded or had operations in South Africa.


SWOPSI course catalog, Fall 1970

Stanford Workshops on Political and Social Issues (SWOPSI) was founded in 1969 to give members of the university community an organized voice in their attempts to effect political and social change. Its objective was to “develop new insights into social and political problems . . . and to formulate specific proposals for their solution.” The program was discontinued in the early 1990s.

Student demonstration at the Computation Center, February 10, 1971

Protesting the invasion of Laos, students seized the Computation Center during twelve hours of confrontation and violence aimed at shutting down the university. The action resulted in 12 arrests and no injuries.


Student Rally in Dinkelspiel Auditorium and White Plaza (from start of rally to departure for Computation Center sit-in)


Gay People’s Union flier, circa 1970s


Gay Life Styles (1975)


Stanford: Where War and Business Meet, 1972

Venceremos began as a Chicano political organization in Redwood City in early 1969. In 1971, a faction of the Maoist organization Revolutionary Union (RU), led by H. Bruce Franklin and consisting of about half of its members, split to join Venceremos, advocating a strategy based on protracted urban guerrilla warfare.


A Guide for Stanford Women, circa 1970s

This post-Title IX publication, compiled by women for women, lists and describes resources for female students, staff, and faculty. Categories include “the academic woman,” “mind and body,” “law and politics,” “employment,” and “survival.”


Petition Presented to the Ombudsman of Stanford University, January 1972

Fifty-four members of the university’s Native American community signed this petition urging the university to retract its use of the Indian mascot.


“Once an Indian Always an Indian” button, circa 1970s

Some longtime Stanford Athletics fans resisted the decommissioning of the Indian mascot by continuing to wear buttons depicting the caricature.


Working Against Rape, 1977


Old Union sit-in protesting Apartheid, May 9-10, 1977

The largest display of civil disobedience in Stanford history occurred when students staged a sit-in in Old Union to protest U.S. corporate involvement in South Africa and the Board of Trustees’ refusal to urge Ford Motor Co. to close its South African operations.


Investment Policy: Panel on South Africa, Cubberley Auditorium (1977-03-07)