A look inside 1969 at SIU

By Emily Cooper, Editor-in-Chief

After 150 years since SIU’s doors were opened, homecoming on Oct. 19 will welcome home graduates of the 1969 class. 

Many things happened in 1969 on SIU’s Carbondale campus, and the Daily Egyptian chronicled the different events and occurrences.

Here’s some of what the Daily Egyptian archives showcased throughout that year: 

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In the April 19 edition, the SIU Board of Trustees gave a nod of approval to a motion for instituting a School of Medicine on the Carbondale Campus. The DE reported that the principal purpose of the medical school programs were to produce practitioners of community medicine, conducted through affiliation with existing hospitals, clinics and other appropriate agencies. 

On April 22, the DE featured an article about a special hour-long color television program featuring R. Buckminister Fuller, an SIU professor. The broadcast was shown on an 18-station Central Educational Network on April 29.

The show was called “An Hour with Bucky,” and was produced by the SIU Broadcasting Service and was seen over WSIU-TV, channel 8. This show included segments of a guest appearance Fuller made on the locally produced “Kaleidoscope,” a weekly talk-format show seen over WSIU-TV on Wednesdays. 

Four Salukis were featured for finishing the Boston Marathon in less than four hours, in the April 25 edition. 

On today’s campus, strikes about climate change are most likely to appear in comparison to rallies like the women’s hours rally in 1969.

A column titled “SIU behind the times ” from the May 23 edition describes the “fight for equality and freedom from discriminatory and arbitrary regulations at SIU.” 

The DE reported that newspapers no longer allowed big companies to state the preferred gender of applicants in job postings, but at SIU, women’s hours were still enforced, while freshman men ran free.

“That’s equality, baby, equality of the 1890s,” the DE reported. 

On June 8, 1969, Old Main, the oldest building on SIU’s campus, burned down at approximately 7:30 a.m. It was discovered by an on-duty custodian. 

The tower and east wall of Old Main collapsed at about 9:30 a.m. 

The Daily Egyptian reported that arson was suspected, which caused several millions of dollars worth of damage. 

The building, which was extensively damaged by fire in 1882, was first dedicated May 15, 1870. 

Old Main housed the University Museum, offices for all teaching assistants in the department of English, a foreign languages teaching laboratory, the Air Force ROTC rifle range and 14 classrooms. 

Only one student was reported injured by the fire. The student suffered a cut above his eye when he was struck by a small piece of falling debris. 

The Daily Egyptian reported, in an extra edition, that the fire destroyed 24 classrooms, most of which had been scheduled for summer classes. 

A record enrollment was expected on the Carbondale campus for the fall quarter of 1969. The campus had over 21,000 students enrolled the year prior. There was a search for additional classrooms before Old Main burned. 

Reassignments of classrooms included: Lentz Hall, various Thompson Point halls and Agriculture Building seminar rooms. 

In a staff opinion article in Sept. 26’s print edition, the DE reported state police went undercover as students throughout Illinois universities “in an attempt to stem the rising tide of marijuana users.”

In the Oct. 16 edition, “Moratorium Day Southern Style,” a collection of photos captured by DE staff members covers the Southern Illinois Peace Committee’s SIU moratorium, which drew in between 2,000-2,500 SIU students and nearby high schoolers in the grassy area northwest of Morris Library.

According to the Daily Egyptian, a full day of activities in observance of the Vietnam Moratorium was planned for the SIU campus culminating in a candlelight peach march through Carbondale.

The Peace Committee collected over $600 to sponsor an SIU delegation to the March on Washington in November of that year. More than 3,000 signed a petition asking former President Richard Nixon to immediately halt the Vietnam War, the DE reported. 

According to the Oct. 22 edition, in 1969, there was not a homecoming queen or court. The election results were declared null and void by an 18 to 3 vote at a meeting of the SIU Student Senate as charged and countercharges were hurled across the standing-room-only crowd in the University Center Ballroom. 

The class of 1969 celebrates their 50-year reunion on homecoming weekend at SIU, this year. The university’s 150th anniversary will be commemorating the reunion of the class and anniversary of the university with the theme “One Team, Saluki Dream: Celebrating 150 Years Strong.” 

Editor in Chief Emily Cooper can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ECooper212.

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