Looking Back: Marijuana Protests

Following “disturbances” at Michigan State University at the end of the semester, the MSU-Oakland Board of Trustees passed a resolution unanimously, declaring that “freedom requires order and discipline”.

These “disturbances” were a series of student marches and sit-ins following a marijuana bust. Throughout the protests, 26 additional arrests were made, according to a 1968 issue of Michigan Daily.

However at the time, the Oakland University Board of Trustees was technically called the MSU-Oakland BOT. Meaning that the incidents at MSU directly impacted Oakland.

“The University holds that freedom requires order and discipline,” read the resolution and ordinances from the June 15 meeting, “and to protect the one it must maintain the others. The right to this freedom and the responsibility of the Trustees and Officers to maintain this order and discipline are shared by faculty, students, and the members of the general public who come to this campus.”

On the inside of the Oakland Observer, the student newspaper at that time, from June 28, 1968, Managing Editor Mike Honey ran an opinion piece about his emotions on the matter.

“The set-up of the university at present is basically an authoritarian one,” Honey said. “For the faculty to agree with such a set-up in the name of ‘democracy’ is for them to engage in mis-education.”

Honey went on, insisting that the BOT would always be operating as an authoritarian force, and it emphasized the non-democratic nature of the university.

The first question is why students protested the arrests in the first place. According to the Michigan Daily, several students came forward and said they were told by “dormitory counselors” to spy on other residents.

Many assumed that this spying is what led to university police to aid state police in the arrests. Students also believed the busts were overstepping the “proper function of an arm of the university”.

The Daily article ran partly as follows: “The campus police armed with guns and clubs regularly patrol the campus. Several students complained at the rallies that the police made a habit of harassing the students who were on the students late at night”

Police brought warrants for the arrests of several MSU students, and MSU police aided those state officers with locating and arresting them for alleged marijuana and LSD sales.

In the June 28 issue of the Observer, Donald E. Morse, assistant professor in the department of English said the Observer’s opinion article regarding the need to disarm campus police “is a safe, sensible suggestion, one which I hope will be immediately implemented by the administration.”

The main concerns that student protestors seemed to have were that there were violations of student privacy, since students were employed to spy on one another.

Another reason, according to the Michigan Daily, was that some students were opposed to the prohibition of marijuana.

The result of these protests at MSU led to the aforementioned resolution and ordinaces at Oakland. The MSU-OU BOT enacted 8 new policies about “disorderly assemblages or conduct”.

These ordinances said, in part, that no one should assemble together for the purpose of creating any noise or disturbance, riot, or “improper diversion”.

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