The generally shared perception was of a fairly apolitical quiescent student cohort not only at Williams but elsewhere. That was a reflection in the wider sense of the Eisenhower years. Spring vacation [1960] was the beginning of the Civil Rights sit-ins in the South and Eisenhower had declined to support that—he hadn’t opposed it, he just hadn’t said anything—and a number of colleges over our spring vacation organized a march on the White House, which by the way split the faculty. Even former activists like the labor economist RRR Brooks, who was then dean, were rather opposed as a form of action that was not suitable to Williams students, picketing, direct action. That was a point of view in those days. We did it, it was quite successful. I think it was one of the earliest such demonstrations in the post-war period in Washington. There were lots of students from lots of colleges. We roared into the garages and pulled out our signs, having driven all night.

Gaudino thought the action was highly significant. I think he said it was the most significant action Williams students had taken in this time at Williams, which by then was not a long time. So what he was experiencing in his view, Williams students taken from a much, much narrower slice of America, or the world, than is now the case. And I think by and large he saw them as students who were used to pretty pliant surroundings in which the various institutions they encountered, certainly the schools, really had them at the center and were devoted to their enhancement, growth and so forth. All of which he thought was terrific for developing secure, confident individuals but at the same time, I think, he believed that pliant experience kind of rendered a lot of political life invisible or not understandable or inaccessible.

Richard Herzog,