The Lawn: Expression vs. preservation


"Strangely, most then viewed the Lawn as sanctuary - it was almost mystic."

-Peter Shea, '71


. . . On Friday night, students again retreated towards the Lawn, confident that the police would never enter the campus itself. The campus proved vulnerable on this night, though, as over 200 policemen rushed onto the Lawn in an unprecedented showing of force. They entered private student rooms on the Lawn, fraternity houses, classroom buildings, and arrested a total of 68 people . . .

Raymond Bice-

A: I'm curious how the Lawn especially--because it was known for representing freedom of expression--I'm curious how it maintained that freedom for its students.

B: Well, it is interesting that with all the hullabaloo, and all the buildings being blown up, and people being killed in other places, that when you get on the Lawn, there's a certain respect, even for people who don't go with that. Now some ugly things did happen on the Lawn. At one graduation, the radical students formed a line across the Lawn and they were going to block the procession. The grand marshal was Mr. Runk, the vice-president for student affairs. Believe me, he had what you'd call authority. He told them that the procession was going to go through anyway. So they stood there, and there was Mr. Runk holding the mace. But when the mace got too close, they parted and the procession went through.

But the more interesting thing to me is, while the Rotunda was being restored, it was kind of vulnerable and of course couldn't be locked up very well. They anticipated that there might be a lot of trouble, with people painting things and so on. It just didn't happen, except there were some students from another university and we know who they were. They came up and painted something on the steps. We had to sandblast the steps and take a little marble off. You can't do that too often, you know. But that's all.

There was a big to-do about free expression on the Lawn. Mr. Canaveri was a very wise man. He said yes, he agreed that they had a right to free expression. They could have it on the South End of the Lawn, which is the opposite end from the Rotunda. But they would not have it in front of the Rotunda. Well you know, they bought that. So, you know about the shanties?

A: No.

B: Oh dear. Well I hate to bring it up, but the radical students put shanties on the Lawn. They were terrible looking things. The first one or two were up in the forbidden territory, before Mr. Canaveri made his ruling. But the rest of them were down on the South end of the Lawn where of course you could plainly see them. The students who organized all this were not too organized.

The shanties persisted quite a little while. At other universities, they got to be a terrible problem and they lasted a long time. At UVA, they didn't. They weren't up there very long. In looking at the Cavalier Daily, you'll find references of the shanties. But never much of any support for any for any of this. If there had been, it might have been quite difficult.


Thomas Steele-

I participated in various collateral demonstrations; housed demonstrations in my room during the police sweep of the campus. Eventually, my room [50 East] Lawn became "Strike Headquaters."


reflections