Frank A. Guridy
The eyes of the nation were upon Morningside Heights 50 years ago this week. On April 23, 1968, Columbia and Barnard students gathered at the sundial to protest the suspension of students who opposed the University’s complicity with the Vietnam War effort and the plan to construct a gymnasium for the private use of the Columbia community in Morningside Park. The protest spiraled into a weeklong standoff between student protesters and the central administration. Students occupied five buildings—Hamilton, Low, Avery, Fayerweather, and Mathematics—while engaging in a protracted battle with the University administration. The campus was shut down. Violent clashes broke out between supporters and opponents of the strikers, and the threat of an impending intervention by the New York City Police Department loomed. After an exhausting week of conflict and negotiation, Columbia President Grayson Kirk made the controversial decision to call in the NYPD to end the crisis. The police forcibly—and violently—removed many students and faculty from in and around the occupied buildings. “The Bust,” as it became known, was an ignominious episode that further delegitimized the central administration....