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Letter to the President of the University of Notre Dame on Student Unrest.

February 24, 1969

Dear Ted:

I share your concern over the recent disorders that have paralyzed campus after campus across our country in recent weeks, and I want to applaud the forthright stand you have taken.

As you know, the issues raised by the protesting students range from minor reforms within the academic community to major concerns of national policy.

But the means some students--a small, irresponsible minority--have employed reflect an impatience with democratic processes, an intolerance of legitimately constituted authority, and a complete disregard for the rights of others.

Violence and vandalism have marked many of these protests, and the fights of the majority of the students have been grossly abused.

If the integrity of our universities is to be preserved, then certain principles must be re-established and certain basic rules enforced. Intimidation and threats remain outlaw weapons in a free society.

A fundamental governing principle of any great university is that the rule of reason and not the rule of force prevails.

Whoever rejects that principle forfeits his right to be a member of the academic community. The university administrator who fails to uphold that principle jeopardizes one of the central pillars of his own institution and weakens the very foundation of American education.

I have directed the Vice President in meetings in Washington this week with the Governors of the fifty states to discuss what action, consistent with the vital importance of maintaining the traditional independence of American universities, might be taken at the state and federal levels to cope with the growing lawlessness and violence on our campuses. I would appreciate it greatly if you would take the time to give him the benefit of your views on this matter.

With warm regards,



[Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, Notre Dame University, Corby Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana]

Note: The letter was dated February 22, 1969, and released February 24, 1969.

Richard Nixon, Letter to the President of the University of Notre Dame on Student Unrest. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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