Student Life at Illinois: 1960-1969


Leo Koch, circa 1955
Leo Koch, circa 1955


  • The Committee for Liberal Action (CLA) formed to “fight student and administration apathy.” The group placed stickers protesting racial discrimination in store windows, and staged a sit-in at Walgreens.
  • Biology instructor Leo Koch was fired after writing letter to the Daily Illini endorsing premarital sex. In response, American Association of University Professors censured the University for five years. CLA members hung an effigy of President Henry from a tree in front of YMCA to protest the firing.
  • Senior Ron Stein won the pentathlon at the first Paralympic Games, held in Rome. Five Illini wheelchair student-athletes and three alumni earned gold medals at the games.
  • Former University President Arthur Willard died on September 12th.
  • Shortly before he was elected president, Senator John F. Kennedy addressed some 10,000 people on the Quad, becoming the first presidential candidate to do so at Illinois.
4H House women's dormitory room, 1961
4H House women’s dormitory room, 1961


  • “Twist” dance craze hit campus.
  • Last “water riot” was held on May 31st after 60 students faced charges following the blinding of a local radio newsman in one eye.
  • Students staged “talkathon” and succeeded in talking for 60 uninterrupted hours. The following year, Illini residence hall students supposedly talked for 609 uninterrupted hours.
  • Revision in state law raised drinking age for women from 18 to 21, the same age as men.
  • Peabody Drive Residence Halls and Krannert Art Museum completed.
  • Illibus began fall semester with an expanded schedule, including routes to Orchard Downs.
  • Committee on Student Affairs passed bill calling for end to racial discrimination in fraternities, sororities, and off-campus housing.
  • Members of SACROTC picketed Military Ball in protest of compulsory ROTC.
  • On November 8th, student James Mautz killed girlfriend Susan Stout and then committed suicide in a graduate dormitory.
Assembly Hall, 1963
Assembly Hall, 1963


  • Assembly Hall opened.
  • Illini Union addition opened in March.
  • Illini House launched to provide tutoring services for African-American children.
  • Illi-Oskee, an Illini Union spring event, held on the weekend of April 19th.
  • Men’s basketball team shared Big Ten title.
  • Beginning on September 16th, students conducted a week-long silent vigil memorializing four African-American youths killed in the bombing of Birmingham Sunday school.
  • Students staged sit-in at Champaign City Building in support of municipal open-housing legislation.
  • Some 11,500 people attended a ceremony at the Assembly Hall memorializing President John F. Kennedy.
  • In November, a student passing out religious literature in front of the Library is arrested for trespassing. He was later found innocent.


  • Illinois defeated Washington in Rose Bowl, 17-7.
  • The College of Education Building dedicated.
  • First campus Students for a Democratic Society organized.
  • Turner Hall constructed.
  • Illinois Street Residence Halls and Commerce West Building opened.
  • Compulsory ROTC ended.
  • Over 9000 qualified applicants denied admission to the University.
  • Committee on Student Affairs recommended that “Free Speech” area be constructed.
  • Students objected to not being consulted regarding proposed Intramural Building.
  • Rally against the Vietnam War held on December 18th.
Film critic Roger Ebert was editory of the Daily Illini and leader of SCOPE, 1967
Film critic Roger Ebert was editory of the Daily Illini and leader of SCOPE, 1967


  • The University of Illinois campus in Chicago opened after 22 months of construction
  • SCOPE (Student Committee on Political Expression) organized. Roger Ebert was one of the group’s leaders.
  • Student Senate began campaign to liberalize housing regulations. Dean Turner agreed to extend women’s closing hours to midnight on Sundays and days preceding vacations.
  • Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Vietnam organized teach-in on the war and attracted one thousand students.
  • Free Speech area at southeast corner of Illini Union opened.
  • On September 29th former Acting President Lloyd Morey died while addressing a meeting in Champaign.
  • Beginning on October 15th, Students for a Democratic Society held a two-day protest over U.S. policy in Vietnam.
  • SCOPE organized protest against Dean of Students Fred Turner.
  • On November 16-18 students held blood drive for soldiers in Vietnam. Over 2000 pints of blood collected.


  • On February 26th underage drinkers sought in raid of Kam’s and dozens of students are rounded up.
  • Dean of Students Fred Turner resigned.  He was succeeded by Stanton Millet.
  • Separate chancellors were named for the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses.
  • Florida Avenue Residence Hall opened.
  • Europa House established, offering apartment living for 72 women.
  • University janitors went on strike.
  • Report revealed very low African-American enrollment at the University.
  • National Student Association convention held on campus.
  • Recognition for Dubois Club sought. Board of Trustees ultimately denied recognition for the group.


  • University celebrated its centennial.
  • On February 24th and October 25th, student groups protested on-campus recruitment by Dow Chemical. During the October protest 200 students occupied the East Chemistry Building (now called Roger Adams Laboratory) for five hours. Seven students were expelled for their involvement in the October protest but subsequently reinstated.
  • Slush fund scandal led to Big Ten Conference suspension of Illini football team.
  • Black Student Association founded.
  • Students Against the Clabaugh Act formed, became Students for Free Speech. Group brought Communist speaker to campus.
  • Patsy Parker elected student body president.
  • Existence of Security Office files revealed.
  • At an October 16th rally, two students burned their draft cards on the Quad. On December 20th, a former student burned his draft card at a Board of Trustees meeting.
Walrus masthead, October 13, 1972
Walrus masthead, October 13, 1972


  • Walrus began publication.
  • On April 3rd, 400 students took part in National Day of Resistance rally at the Illini Union.
  • On May 24th, approximately 80 students held Vietnam Commencement in honor of those unwilling to cooperate with the draft.
  • Project 500 started in effort to boost African-American enrollment. On September 9-10 some 252 students were arrested after staging a sit-in at the Illini Union to protest the inadequacies of Project 500.
  • Coordinated Science Lab dedicated.
  • Co-op food store opened.
Walrus Front Page, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 1968
Walrus Front Page, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 1968


  • Over 100 people protested Marine recruiting at Illini Union.
  • African-American students rallied against racism.
  • Undergraduate Library and Krannert Center opened.
  • Undergraduate Student Association (UGSA) founded, succeeded Champaign-Urbana Student Senate.
  • UGSA member jailed for draft resistance.
  • Afro-American Cultural Program instituted.
  • Moratorium against the Vietnam War attracted thousands. On October 15th, 9,000 people marched from the Illini Union to West Side Park.
  • African-American students protested killings in Chicago of Black Panther leaders.
  • Faculty organized Union of Professional Employees.

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