International Peace Week at UCSB, 1972

By Jillian Wertzberger

The week of April 17th to April 22nd, 1972, students across the nation held demonstrations in protest of the war in Vietnam during “International Peace Week.” These demonstrations culminated in the “March for Peace,” sponsored by the Peace Action Coalition. The UCSB branch of the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (SMC), employed various methods of communication, organization, and preparation to coordinate protests of civil disobedience on campus and in neighboring Isla Vista to express their disapproval of the Vietnam War. 

In the early 70s, UCSB’s reputation had changed from that of a party school to a center of liberal dissent following the 1970 Isla Vista riots. A study conducted in 1971 showed that UCSB students believed that it was their right to take aggressive “militant” action against authority in order to meet their demands. Students were becoming more politically involved as Nixon implemented his plan of Vietnamization, while ramping up bombing campaigns in North Vietnam. It was against this setting that the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam sponsored anti-war activities leading up to two mass demonstrations in New York City and Los Angeles on April 22, 1972. Planned at a Cleveland Peace Action Coalition conference in December 1971, the March for Peace was the last major protest in response to the War in Vietnam.

International Peace Week

Tuesday, April 11

The Student Mobilization Committee showed the movie Winter Soldier in association with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The express purpose of which was to build support for the Los Angeles march on April 22. This was a smart tactic to create pathos for the suffering of soldiers in Vietnam with the film, then directly after use the students’ outrage to fuel interest in the protest. Unlike many protest groups, the SMC strongly defended soldiers who did not support the war, working with them to distribute anti-war propaganda, and even publicizing cases of harassment of soldiers. Furthermore, the SMC was clearly planning weeks ahead for the LA march and demonstrated a remarkable level of organization in cooperating with the Vietnam Veterans. 

Friday, April 14

Rhonda Ohme wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Nexus, entitled “Don’t forget the war.” This letter intended to guilt students by comparing their sunny, party climate to the 300 “Indochinese” civilians killed by bombing campaigns every day. This letter told students to act on their beliefs and take responsibility in the anti-war movement by attending the upcoming anti-war march in Los Angeles.

Sunday, April 16

It is worth noting that the day before anti-war week began, Operation Freedom Porch, a bombing campaign over Haiphong, also began in earnest. Its goal was to strike a petroleum storage center in the area. Additionally, at 8 p.m. 35 students from Santa Barbara high schools, Santa Barbara City College, and UCSB met at the Isla Vista Legal Collective. These students endorsed immediate local action against the war in Vietnam and of the L.A. march, which demonstrates exceptional communicative and cooperative skills.

Monday, April 17

The Daily Nexus published an article titled “Antiwar week begins today” by Christy Wise. The article details many different strategies and activities that the SMC employed in order to generate interest in the march in L.A. On Monday, the SMC held a rally in Perfect Park which attracted over 300 people. However, from the number of protestors at Perfect Park compared to the number of students at UCSB in 1972 (12,400), one can infer that the dedicated antiwar protestors did not represent the whole of the student body. Additionally, other dedicated UCSB students used “guerilla theater” tactics when they, in collaboration with KCSB, played tapes of bombing campaigns and distributed flyers that read “If this was a bomb, you’d be dead.” Later that day, 200 students met in the University Center (UCen) lobby and discussed different antiwar measures, from sending postcards to the White House to sending guns to the North Vietnamese. These events all illustrate a frustrated and impassioned, if small, population that actively demonstrated against the war in Vietnam.  

Tuesday, April 18

Bob Tedone of the Nexus reported on protests occuring at other campuses such as Stanford and Berkeley where he described the overall atmosphere as “apathetic” despite numerous protests. At UCSB, 200-300 students marched from the back of the University Center to the Administration Building and demanded that Vice Chancellor Stephen Goodspeed put an end to ROTC recruitment and war research on campus. Goodspeed reaffirmed the right of recruiters to be on campus. 200-300 students is notably a similar number of students compared to the attendees of the Perfect Park rally, and reinforces the notion that the dedicated anti war protesters were a small and dedicated group. This number was considered a poor showing and one of the speakers, Becca Wilson, commented that an aura of defeatism had permeated UCSB. Later that day, the SMC also showed Air War and Chemical War, two anti war films that show real combat footage, clearly trying to garner sympathy for Vietnamese civilians abroad and discourage apathy at home.  All of these protests were efforts to encourage political participation in the L.A. march. 

Wednesday April 19

A guest editorial in the Daily Nexus entitled “Campuses oppose warmaking” called for an immediate national student strike in protest of Nixon’s escalation of the war. 13 schools in total, including three UC’s and several ivy league schools, united in protest and decided to strike on Friday. The Nexus also released a special anti war edition, featuring guest editorials and cartoons. One editorial entitled “We must act!” encouraged students to attend Saturday’s March for Peace in L.A. The editorial urged students to take responsibility for the actions of the U.S. government, writing that each citizen is responsible for every dead civilian in Vietnam if he does not protest. 

Also on Wednesday was a broadly appealing, if fairly disorganized rally protesting many things, from cuts to the minority students’ associations, to ROTC and the war in general. For example, speakers from the Legal Council tried to raise funds for minority associations right before the Young Socialist Alliance tried to raise support for a student strike. Chancellor Don Cheadle answered questions at the rally, reaffirming Vice Chancellor Goodspeed’s position that recruiters had a right to be on campus. However, he additionally reported that he had sent a telegram to President Nixon calling for a withdrawal from Vietnam and an end to bombing campaigns. After the rally, a group of about 50 students conducted a peaceful sit-in at the ROTC center in the face of six campus policemen. At Santa Barbara high schools, UCSB students distributed leaflets that promoted the march. Also promoting the march was Becca Wilson who gave a lecture titled “Electronic Battlefield” at the University Center, where the SMC was selling tickets for rides to L.A. Students present at the UCen unanimously voted to hold a candlelight vigil at Perfect Park the following day. More than anything, Wednesday demonstrates the wide variety of approaches to raising awareness and gathering support for anti-war causes. 

Thursday, April 20

The Daily Nexus reported about campus student strikes and demonstrations across the country. Isla Vista held its own candlelight vigil in Perfect Park which had been organized the day before and advertised in the Nexus the day of, which demonstrates a strong ability to coordinate events on behalf of politically active students. Additionally, the SMC held a monitor training session in the UCen in order to ensure that the protests in Isla Vista and in L.A. would remain peaceful. This demonstrates an impressive level of preparation and forethought by the SMC. The SMC continued to advertise its organized transportation services in a letter to the editor of the Nexus, which ensured students that marching is a valuable protest tactic before reporting that tickets to the L.A. march would be on sale at the UCen for $1.50. In support of the SMC, Humboldt Hall in San Miguel Dorm stated in a letter to the editor that it had allocated half of its funds to purchase tickets to the L.A. march for residents of Humboldt Hall and other students unable to afford tickets. Additionally, the Nexus published an editorial in support of the student strike, encouraging students to meet behind the UCen at noon and to travel to Vandenberg Air Force Base. Explicitly, this writer wanted to contrast the peaceful protest with violence and weapons of war at the Base, and admonished students who did not protest as unempathetic. Clearly, the support and advertisement of the march ramped up as the week drew nearer to Saturday.

Friday, April 21

At the University Center, the SMC continued to sell tickets to the march. The Nexus also relayed when and where to meet for students who had purchased tickets on the front page. Three different editorials urged students to attend the March for Peace, often angrily railing against the apparent apathy of the student body. However, one editorial by a third year student titled “Disruption” admonishes protestors who disrupted a History 177 lecture in Campbell Hall by chanting slogans and encouraging students to leave class before finally departing, unsuccessful. The student declared while he was opposed to the war, he saw little use in this manner of protest. Clearly, attitudes were mixed at UCSB. While there was a general anti-war sentiment, there were varying degrees of expression of support to the cause. A dedicated group of students organized a banner-making session in the UCen lobby at 10 a.m. before a march at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. 200 peaceful demonstrators marched at the base carrying banners and singing patriotic songs. However, only about 40 of these were UCSB students because the base was 60 miles away. Those who could drive drove as many as they could and handed out flyers for the March for Peace to school buses and military personnel. The Vandenberg march had only been planned the previous day and thus shows a high degree of spontaneity among dedicated students. Finally on Friday, 200 devoted students (again a similar number to that at Perfect Park) went on strike in protest of the war. 

Saturday, April 22

Christy Wise reported on the Los Angeles march in “L.A. hosts 12,000 for Saturday march,” reported in Monday’s edition of the Daily Nexus. Students at UCSB had hoped to draw crowds in the hundreds of thousands, while many naysayers said they would have been lucky to draw 20,000. The rally lasted for six hours and included speakers such as Dr. Ralph Abernathy from the SCLC and Anthony Russo, a defendant in the “Pentagon Papers” trial. Despite this poor showing, speakers celebrated UCSB because of the march on the Vandenberg Base the day before. Nationally, the March for Peace had sister marches in metropolitan areas such as New York City and Boston. Internationally, France also held its own march on April 22.


Dan Hentschke wrote “New tactics necessary for action, change” which admonished UCSB students for their lack of political participation. Hentschke wrote that Isla Vista and Santa Barbara were infected with apathy and passivity. He believed that UCSB students’ participation in the L.A. march was “scant” and that the overall turnout was disappointing. Furthermore, he berated the general community that rolled its eyes at protestors who believed marches make change. Hentschke wrote that new “direct action” tactics are necessary in order to incite change. Earlier that week, one student wrote an editorial declaring that “March does no good,” saying that the government does not respond to civil disobedience or the actions of individuals. From these editorials, one can interpret that some students following the intense turmoil of the 1970 riots became even more politically active. Others, however, may have grown tired of the constant negativity in the news and believed that civil disobedience was not able to produce change. Nationally, a study collecting data on march attendees cataloged a noticeable decline in march attendance in the year range 1970-1973, which also supports the idea that the American public may have started to believe that marching and civil disobedience does not bring about change.

Works Cited

National Peace Action Coalition, Sponsor/Advertiser. March for peace, April 22. California United States, 1972. Photograph. Library of Congress, Yanker Poster Collection.

Student Mobilization Committee, “Film Winter Soldier,” 1972. Student Organizations Collection, [Box 4, Folder 34], Special Research Collections, UCSB Library.

Daily Nexus

1972 April 17: Christy Wise, “Antiwar week begins today,” 2. 

1972 April 14: Rhonda Ohme, “Don’t forget the war,” 5. 

1972 April 18: Bob Tedone, “War escalation meets protest,” 1. 

1972 April 18: Charles Brown, “The birds of war take to the skies,” 4. 

1972 April 19: Bob Tedone, “Bombs bring UCSB campus protest,” 1. 

1972 April 19: Christy Wise, “Students protest new bombing by anti-war actions,” 1. 

1972 April 19: Okamura, 10. 

1972 April 19: “Campuses oppose warmaking,” 4. 

1972 April 19: “We must act!” 9. 

1972 April 20: Mike Gordon, “Cheadle faces protesters at minority rally,” 1. 

1972 April 20: Howard Graham, “March does no good,” 4. 

1972 April 20: “Dorms aid march,” 4. 

1972 April 21: Christy Wise, “War and people march on,” 1.

1972 April 21: “What do to? Act!” 4. 

1972 April 21: Tom Moylan, “See you in Los Angeles,” 4.

1972 April 24: Vandenberg sees peaceful protest,” 1. 

1972 April 21: Mark Frei, “Disruption,” 5. 

1972 April 24: Christy Wise, “L.A. hosts 12,000 for Saturday march,” 1. 

1972 April 26: Dan Hentschke, “New tactics necessary for action, change,” 2. 

1972 April 20: “L.A. Antiwar March OKd by Coalition.” Los Angeles Times, 1-d9.

1969 June 5: Ron Wolin, “Student Mobilization,” The New York Review, n.p.  

Marine Corps. (May 1, 1972). Command Chronology for the period 1 through 30 April 1972.  Retrieved December 2, 2019 from  

John & Yoko at National Peace Action Coalition antiwar rally, Bryant Park, NYC April 22 1972,” Youtube video, posted by Peter Feld, April 22, 2012, 

“SYND 22/04/72 ANTI-VIETNAM WAR DEMONSTRATIONS IN BOSTON,” Youtube video, posted by Associated Press, July 23, 2015,

Smith, Robert, “The Vietnam War and Student Militancy,” Social Science Quarterly 52:1 (June, 1971) pp. 133-156.

Seidler, John, Katherine Meyer, and Lois Mac Gillivray. “Collecting Data on Crowds and Rallies: A New Method of Stationary Sampling.” Social Forces 55, no. 2 (1976): 507-19.

Vietnam War Protests: 1965-1972

By Sophia Chupein

May 1965

College students played an indispensable role in the anti-Vietnam war movement during the 1970s, and UCSB was no exception. Beginning in May of 1965, students protested and discussed the war in every way imaginable. Students participated through draft resistance, engaging in faculty discussions, attending teach-ins, and joining organizations such as the Student Peace Committee (see below). A large part of the UCSB student body, however, did not view these forums as adequate measures to protest the Johnson administration’s foreign policy measures. Student protests, both peaceful and violent, erupted across America as the U.S Army continually invaded and bombed Southeast Asia beginning in 1965. The validity of the UCSB Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) was being brought into question during this time as well, since many students believed its actions should be more accommodating to protestors. UCSB students expressed their vehement anger towards U.S foreign policy through a series of violent protests in 1967, causing thousands of dollars worth of property damage in Isla Vista and the temporary shutdown of the Santa Barbara Airport. These protests sent an unfiltered message to the U.S Government: that they would be held accountable for their decisions, no matter what the cost.

[(“New Draft Policy”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 4). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

[(“Are You in Favor of Peace in Vietnam”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 4). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]

[(“University Committee on War and Peace”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 10). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]


Protests, marches, and calls to action were ubiquitous around campus. These took the form of movie showings, theater productions, lectures, speeches, and artwork. Here are some of the many postings reminding students of the urgency of protest and circumstances of the war:

[(Matson, R. 1971, November 3). “The Time to Act is Now.” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]
[(Okamura/OPS 1972, April 19). Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]
[(Levine, D 1973, May 11). Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]
[(1967, October 20). “Scoreboard” El Gaucho, Retrieved from]


In October of 1965, Students for Free Political Action (SFPA) sponsored the first teach-ins, movie screenings, and speeches from nationally recognized activists at UCSB. October also marked the first of many rallies in opposition to the war, which in turn sparked the first student conflicts regarding the morality of America’s involvement in Vietnam. For instance, the previously inactive Young Americans for Freedom group mobilized in 1965 in order to protest SFPA actions on campus.

[(Winograd, B. 1965, October 15). “Viet Nam protest today; vigil stirs counter-pickets” El Gaucho,]


Joan Baez, a widely known folk songwriter and activist, came to UCSB in October of 1966 to speak in David Arnold’s Sociology 128 class about the war in Vietnam, non-violence, and taking political action. Joan Baez was a part of the outspoken liberal minority that had been speaking out against U.S involvement in Vietnam since the beginning of the conflict.

[(Shelton, J. 1966, October 20). “Joan Baez describes Non Violence School” El Gaucho, Retrieved from]
[(Shelton, J. 1966, October 20). “Non-Violent revolt asked by pacifist” El Gaucho, Retrieved from]


Though Baez’s non-violent rhetoric resonated with many UCSB students, frustration with the war and the rise of organized student activism in the 1960s mobilized thousands of UCSB students. 1967 was filled with both peaceful and violent student protests. One of the primary debates within the UCSB student body was regarding the rights of the ROTC. The ROTC was voluntarily established at UCSB shortly after World War II and provided a way for male students during this period to fulfill their military obligations. When student protestors began attacking the ROTC during the height of the war, many students defended the military program, claiming that ROTC officers were facing injustice and stereotyping. Major Bailey told the Daily Nexus in 1967 that the ROTC faculty members would “jump at the chance to discuss the issues with anyone willing to take the time…Pacifist attacks such as those witnessed here recently do not help matters any” (1971, November 3) Daily Nexus.

[(1968, October 17) El Gaucho, Retrieved from]


During Fall Quarter of 1967, The Daily Nexus and El Gaucho were covered with letters to the editor about how the ROTC should handle student activism, and whether or not the ROTC should be considered for academic credit. It was during this period that widespread disillusionment with the war began reaching the general American public. The televised atrocities of the war and the exponentially rising cost to taxpayers was becoming increasingly evident. The Student Peace Committee was a prominent voice in the ROTC debate.

[(Samuelsen, M. 1967, October 3). “Peace Committee ROTC Clash on ‘Academic’ Debate” El Gaucho, Retrieved from]


Perspectives on the ROTC debate took on many forms. Many students viewed protests against the military institution as unjust and unsubstantiated. While most of these opinions were made public through the Daily Nexus, a group of students and Santa Barbara citizens formed an organization called “Friends of the ROTC”, which defended the military group’s role on campus (see below).

[(Hankins, J. 1971, November 3). “‘Friends of ROTC’ Formed by Santa Barbara Citizens” El Gaucho, Retrieved from]


[(Russ, B. 1967, October 18). “A Defence of ROTC” El Gaucho,  Retrieved from]


[(Russ, B. 1967, October 18). “A Defence of ROTC” El Gaucho,  Retrieved from]
[(Krend, J. 1967, October 31). “ROTC Dispute Rages on” El Gaucho, Retrieved from]


Each escalation of U.S involvement in the war brought with it a new wave of student protest. When the Nixon administration approved the U.S invasion of Cambodia in 1970, rising anti-war sentiments coalesced into an unprecedented national student strike. The magnitude of this strike delivered an ultimatum to the U.S government, warning that if the U.S extends the invasion in Southeast Asia, turmoil will ensue on the home front.

[(“The U.S. Military has Invaded Cambodia”, University of California, Santa Barbara, Student Organizations Collection, Box 10). University of California, Santa Barbara, Associated Students Records. UArch 101. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]


When Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger further escalated the war through implementing Operation Linebacker in 1972, UCSB students grew furious. The day after the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, students shut down the Santa Barbara airport, resulting in the cancelation of all flights for that day. The violence of these riots resulted in one person falling from a three-story building, while 13 others were arrested.

[(Rimer, S; Haight, A. 1972, May 10). “2,500 shut down S.B. airport” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]


When police forces tried to subdue the protest at 9:30 pm, students began yelling “freeway!”, and headed to Hollister Avenue and Highway 101. By 10:00 pm, when students realized a fence stood between them and the highway, they began walking back to IV, telling police officers they wanted no confrontation. A police car then sped directly towards the back of the marching group and swerved off the road, injuring and arresting protestors. As police officers continued to drive through the crowds, one woman parked on Hollister told the Daily Nexus “Well they must have been [beating protestors], didn’t you hear the screaming?”. At 10:35 pm, a bonfire was set off in Perfect Park, and protestors began marching through IV to gain members for a march on the ROTC. When the group was confronted by the ROTC, a protestor drove his car directly into the line of ROTC members. As rocks were being thrown back and forth, the ROTC threw a total of five canisters of tear gas into the crowd on Pardall. By 2:00 am the demonstrators had dispersed (Rimer, S. 1972, May 11. Daily Nexus).

[(Cline, V. 1972, May 10). “Night actions rock Isla Vista” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]


[(Eber, R.1972, May 11). “Riot damage in Tuesday action at approximately $6,000” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]


This event angered many students who felt that these violent protests were unjustified, as demonstrated by this letter to the editor of the Daily Nexus:

[(Randall, T. 1972, May 10). “Letter to the Editor” Daily Nexus, Retrieved from]


The following day, 1,000 UCSB students gathered on the UCen lawn to continue the anti-war rally. They marched throughout campus and into Oglesby’s History of California class in Campbell Hall, gathering more and more students as they went. Before the Isla Vista rally later that day, about 250 students confronted 25 ROTC officers at the ROTC building. “One officer was hit by a can and knocked down…two students climbed on top of the building, and 10 students were eventually allowed to enter the building to speak with Army Officers” (Daily Nexus, May 10 1972).

On May 11th, the following day, Ronald Reagan walked off his helicopter onto Santa Barbara grounds, where he was greeted by 1,000 demonstrators. While 1,200 members of Santa Barbara’s social elite dined with Reagan, the demonstrators (mostly from UCSB) sang and chanted outside. No confrontational or violent incidents occurred.

The events that occurred during these years at UCSB reflected the anger, disappointment, and frustration of students with the U.S government’s decisions. The debates, teach-ins, rallies, and protests that took place on campus are testaments to the abilities of young people to enact meaningful change. The Santa Barbara airport protestors received national news coverage from NBC and CBS, mirroring the American public’s growing opposition to the Vietnam war. Additionally, reactions to the anti-war protests demonstrated the wide range of political opinions that have always been present on the UCSB campus, and how social unrest can facilitate meaningful debate.

Skip to content