Protests & Social Action at UW-Madison during the 20th Century
Compiled by Tyler C. Kennedy and David Null
The student body of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a rich and diverse history of activism and protest. This site does not claim to be all-inclusive, but instead attempts to provide a representative selection of student protest throughout the twentieth century, using sources from the University Archives.
The University Archives has much more material on most of these events, including the full oral histories from which the sound clips were taken.
The University of Wisconsin Collection includes digital copies of the 4 volume history of the university, plus many other useful sources. The Wisconsin Historical Society Archives also has strong collections on social action.
To see several hundred more protest images click on the link at the bottom of each of these pages.
For additional information, comments, suggested additions, etc., please contact the University Archives.
The TAA begins what will be a five-week strike on April 1. Students and police clash in front of the Chemistry Building on April 10.
Students for a Libertarian Society march on State Street and burn their selective service registration cards in an anti-draft protest.
|November 20, 1981||
Students protest throughout November against a $30 surcharge in tuition due to state budget cuts. A similar surcharge was instituted in fall 1980. Resident undergraduate tuition for fall 1981 was $492.50.
|October 25, 1982
Black Panthers leader turned born again Christian Eldridge Cleaver delivers a speech sponsored by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon related Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP). Violence between CARP and Progressive Labor Party members results in 8 arrests for disorderly conduct, and Cleaver cutting his speech short.
|April 21, 1983||
1000 people at the Stock Pavilion protest U.S. intervention in Central America, especially Nicaragua.
|October 27-28, 1983|
Several protests are held in response to the US invasion of Grenada. The “Macho Nerds,” a pro-Reagan group of students, celebrates the victory in Grenada.
|September 21, 1984||WSA sponsors a "drink-in" with 600 people at the Capitol to protest raising the drinking age to 21.|
|September 25, 1984||30 protestors disrupt CIA recruiters in Science Hall.|
|October 12, 1984||
Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro appears on campus. Though the campus was heavily in favor of the Mondale/Ferraro presidential ticket, the candidate was also greeted by the pro-Reagan “Macho Nerds”.
|November 15, 1984||30 protestors visit businesses with "destructive" investments in Central America.|
|late February, 1985
||Anti-apartheid protests lead to cancellation of a talk by Pieter Claasen from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
|April 10, 1985|
90 students protest CIA recruitment on campus and clash with police, who use mace on the crowd.
|March 3, 1986||Students protest against Hormel recruiters at Agriculture Hall, in sympathy with striking Hormel workers in Minnesota.|
|March 15, 1986||
300 people rally against Reagan's proposed aid to the Contras in Nicaragua.
|early April, 1986||Students take part in anti-apartheid demonstrations, including building a shantytown at the Capitol.|
|February 23, 1987
||Students occupy the office of Acting Chancellor Bernard Cohen to protest CIA recruitment on campus. Cohen is not there; students return on the 25-26.
|October 15, 1987|
275 students rally against racism on Bascom Hill.
The Black Student Union organizes a "Day of Outrage Against Racism" in response to a fraternity's "slave auction."
|July 10, 1989||
Around 1500 students take part in a rally to support abortion rights.