Unlike many other universities, the University of Chicago recently declined to divest from Darfur. The basis of this decision was the University's Kalven Report. (If you have not read the Kalven Report, see http://www.uchicago.edu/docs/policies/provostoffice/kalverpt.pdf).
The Kalven Report was adopted the year before I arrived at the University of Chicago in 1968 as a new law student. Those were difficult days. On March 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson shocked the nation when he announced, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” The anti-Vietnam war movement had driven the president from office. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The nation suffered a convulsion of violence, with riots in more than 100 cities, leading to forty-six deaths and more than 200,000 arrests. Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley ordered police to “shoot to kill” arsonists on the city’s burning West Side.
On April 23 came the mass student occupation of buildings at Columbia University to protest the university’s war-related research and its treatment of the surrounding black community. This event marked a turning point in the nature of student protest. For the first time, police were called in to evict and arrest student demonstrators with the use of force. Moreover, for the first time universities themselves came to be seen by antiwar protesters as part of the nation’s power structure and thus part of the problem. Richard Nixon, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, decried the Columbia event as “a national disgrace.” Columbia became the model of what was to come.