Thus read the pins on the shirt of one Lenny Siegel, erstwhile leader of the “April 3rd Movement” (A3M), the group of students that nearly tore Stanford apart in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Siegel, a member of Stanford’s class of 1970 who was expelled for his radical activities before graduating, was on campus the weekend of May 1 leading A3M’s 40-year reunion. The final part of the reunion program was a “historical walking tour of campus,” which this writer participated in and observed.
The tour generally consisted of Siegel leading the group of roughly 50 people between the various sites on campus where his group engaged in illegal, often violent, activities. The group wound its way from Old Union (“Our favorite place for sit-ins”) to Stern Hall and then back to the Clock Tower. During the tour, several former A3M members decided to confess some of their past crimes, which ranged from stealing sensitive university financial records to assaulting ROTC cadets and destroying property. Siegel himself admitted to many of these activities, recounting the story of how he broke all of the Bookstore windows after being fired from his job there. One greying man chimed in by recalling fondly, “The Lou Henry Hoover building was the best building to break windows in. Two stories of solid glass.”
The high point in the event came early on, as Siegel led the group—chanting “Please-a, please-a, no Condoleezza!” all the way–to the President’s Office in the Main Quad. The intent was to make known his group’s demand (together with Stanford Says No to War) that Condoleezza Rice be investigated for war crimes and, if found guilty, prosecuted. The fact that Siegel nailed the demand to the office door (as he nailed a similar demand to the door of the Board of Trustees office in 1969) earned him press coverage from the local ABC and CBS affiliates as well as several publications. Also present during the ceremony was one representative of the Raging Grannies—a group surpassed in obnoxiousness only by the likes of Code Pink—and several of the cliche orange-jumpsuited, hooded Guantanamo “prisoners.”
Following the nailing was an impromptu speech by A3M alumna and current president of the far-left National Lawyer’s Guild Marjorie Cohn. With impassioned rhetoric, Cohn accused the former Secretary of State of being complicit in the torture of prisoners and of creating a “false connection between WMDs and Saddam Hussein” that led to an “illegal war of aggression.” Cohn continued by claiming that if any war crimes were committed, everyone in the Bush administration is liable for them, all the way up to and including the Commander-in-Chief. Though she called for an investigation and, if warranted, prosecution of many in the administration, the outcome of such an investigation was by no means in doubt in her mind; she concluded her diatribe by exclaiming, “We will not stop until they are punished!”
Returning to the tour, Siegel then took the group to the most politically charged spot on campus: Hoover Tower. Siegel explained that, during his time at Stanford, he preferred to target the university administration itself rather than the Hoover Institution, though he “understood” why some of his colleagues focused (and continue to focus) more on Hoover. One member of the group then held up the May 1 issue of this publication, ridiculing its front-page headline (“Campaign Contributions Study Indicates No Partisan Bias at Hoover”) as if it could not possibly be true. Had this individual actually taken the time to read the article, he might have found it more believable. This knee-jerk far-left attitude was apparent throughout the group, however, embodied in comments such as “You know that because of global warming the Earth’s population will be 1.5 billion 100 years from now” and complaints that several anti-Condi news pieces were in fact “sugar-coating” the issues and giving the former secretary too much credit.
Moving right along, the tour’s next stop was Encina Hall, site of the well-known “Encina sit-in,” in which Siegel and his “activists” took over the building for a day in 1969. The highlight of this stop was Siegel’s proudly describing how he discovered that the bricks in campus sidewalks at the time could be pried out of the ground by hand, broken in half on the curb, and then thrown at police officers. “That’s why they changed the sidewalks,” he said, laughing.
The tour concluded at the Intersection of Death with stories of how members of A3M often spent more time handing out flyers and pamphlets to passing cyclists than they did in class. Siegel said he personally missed three midterms because of exactly this. However, after being pressed by a student on the tour, he was forced to admit that the vast majority of Stanford students at the time did not share his zeal. “Most of the time, most of the students were still students,” he conceded, explaining that some students had their noses buried so deep in their books that they did not even learn about the Encina sit-in until after it had ended. The only times campus was truly galvanized, according to Siegel, were the springs of 1969 and 1970.
Despite this limited timeframe of mobilization and generally low level of student participation, Siegel and his movement did succeed in kicking ROTC off campus and forcing the Stanford Research Institute to officially separate from the university. The return of these radicals to campus was a sober reminder of the detrimental effects these actions continue to have today. Hopefully the current generation of Stanford students will leave a more positive legacy.