This is a letter Tony wrote to the Hickory Daily Record in March 1969
Editor Record: This letter is in response to an article in the March 19 edition of The Record, concerning a letter from UNC student, Glenn Datnoff.
I, too, am a Hickory student studying here at Carolina, who is disgusted about the progress of events in the cafeteria workers strike. I agree with Mr. Datnoff in that I believe the deployment of patrolmen in such numbers was largely a political move by Governor Scott. I further agree with Mr. Datnoff that there is a very great and very serious communication gap between UNC students and the voting public of this state. In the seven months that I have spent here, I have found no anarchists, no communists, no fascists, though the state legislature and many citizens of North Carolina would not believe it.
One of the causes of this misunderstanding is the North Carolina Assembly has forsaken leadership for reaction. The speaker ban law has been re-introduced and another representative has stated his intention to sponsor a bill that would require students to take courses in Americanism. Both ideas are absurd and are in violation of the right of free speech. Students at Carolina are not communists and don’t want to be; they are, as Mr. Datnoff says, here to get an education.
However, violence and disruption are not legitimate substitutes for peaceful and orderly dissent. The workers who are on strike, have at all times remained peaceful. As is the case with Mr. Datnoff, I was not in Lenoir Hall at the time of the overturning of tables and chairs during the supper hour. I can, with a reasonable amount of certainty, however, state the violence was initiated by members of the BSM (Black Student Movement) and SSOC (Southern Student Organizing Committee) and other non-affiliated supporters. It was this rash and needless act on the part of a small minority of students, not the striking workers, that prompted Governor Scott, on Thursday morning, to order police and highway patrolmen present to insure the peaceful re-opening of the cafeteria. Perhaps the presence of patrolment was a political move. Nevertheless, the University is definitely obligated to provide for its students dining facilities without fear of disruption and the possibility of bodily injury.
A further incident of disruption occurred on Monday morning, March 10, in which this student was directly involved. A group of students in support of those workers on strike invaded two of the classroom buildings near the main cafeteria, ran through the halls of those buildings pounding on classroom doors, and shourting chants referring to the police as “pigs” and reiterating their support for the workers. I was, at that time, in one of those buildings taking an examination when this recurrence of disorder began. The interruption made it impossible for classes to be held or examinations to be administered for fifteen of the allotted fifty minutes. My classmates and I feel that our performance on this test was seriously affected. In my opinion, this barbaric and senseless tactic, employed by certain irrational students, infringed on my right to pursue my education without interference and disruption.
In conclusion, I am a student who agrees with the grievances of the workers. Their demands are just and I feel that they should be granted. However, I disagree with the small minority of students and faculty who, violently, or otherwise, interfere with the academic and social functions of this University, in their efforts to aid the workers. In a time when everyone else seems to be making non-negotiable demands, I demand the right to eat a meal in Lenoir Hall without fear of having tables overthrown in my face. I demand the right to pursue my education and to take examinations without interference and disruption. If police and patrolmen are needed to insure and guarantee these rights for the students of this university, then they are performing a necessary function and their presence should not only be endured, it should be welcomed. We young adults of today are impatient to assume control of a society in which our parents have failed to correct serious flaws. We have new ideas and new methods, and a great desire to implement them. However, caution, prudence, and rational action are not to be cast aside. Much can be learned from the achievements and mistakes of our predecessors, and we would be wise to profit from their experience.
Chapel Hill, N.C 27514
(Editor’s Note: Even though the above letter is in excess of the space usually allowed Open Forum communications, due to the subject and writer an exception is being made. We believe Record readers will find it interesting, thought-provoking and reassuring.)