Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
F. Ross Peterson
Through the vantage point of institutions of higher learning, Utah's distinction as a politically conservative state dominated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is examined during the Vietnam War era. The three universities in the study-Brigham Young University, University of Utah, and Utah State University- are the three oldest and most populous universities in the state. This thesis concentrates on these three institutions and less on the politics of the state at the time. Studies showed that the universities, to varying degrees, exhibited antiwar sentiment Still, the campuses were less active in opposing the war, drawing only a very small percentage of students to demonstrations.
Brigham Young University's President, Ernest L. Wilkinson (1951-1971), vigorously guarded against signs of antiwar activity. He was involved in the 1966 spy ring, which organized students for surveillance of supposedly liberal faculty. Students who appeared to be antiwar were also scrutinized. Despite the negative sanctions on such students, a minority of pupils did oppose the war and Wilkinson's tactics.
The University of Utah produced the highest number of protesters, largely because of its more diverse and urban population. Many of the demonstrators at the U of U continued as activists in the Salt Lake Valley into the 1990s. Utah State University echoed the U of U, but to a lesser extent. Still, underground newspapers and an organized antiwar political party showed that USU also had a movement against the war. The administrations of the two schools figure into the text less powerfully than BYU's Wilkinson because they failed to become as involved in the debate.
Oral interviews dominate this thesis. Subjects were chosen according to their involvement in particular events or movements. Student newspapers and underground newspapers were also utilized.
This thesis attempted to recreate a tumultuous and turbulent time in American history. Utah's unique cultural slant showed that the Beehive State could not isolate itself from international events but also responded in its own way.
Smith, Tracey, "Agitators in the Land of Zion: The Anti-Vietnam War Movements at Brigham Young University, University of Utah, and Utah State University" (1995). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 7116.
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