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October 30, 1969

At 3:20 AM, 34 African-American students—all women and a majority of Vassar’s 59 black students—peacefully took over the central first floor of Main Building, protesting the administration’s failure to respond to the Student Afro-American Society’s nine points. A night watchman left quietly, a small group of African-American men from area colleges and the community guarded the front door and President Simpson spoke briefly with the students through an open window. A switchboard operator stayed behind, showed one of the students how to operate the system and left.

Speaking to several hundred students later in the morning from the portico outside the Rose Parlor, Simpson said that a meeting including trustees, student leaders, member of the faculty and representatives of the group occupying Main would be convened. While disapproving of the action, he said he understood “the spirit of deep frustration and high endeavor” motivating the students, adding “I cannot imagine any circumstance in which such conversations would be improved by the use of force or the threat of force.”

Conversations between the several parties began the following day. The New York Times

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