Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type



Political Science

Director of Thesis

Todd C. Shaw

Second Reader

Kent Germany


In May 1970, the University of South Carolina's campus erupted. Students protesting the Vietnam War, police presence on campus, the shooting of student protestors at Kent State, and restrictive campus rules stormed campus buildings and faced off with National Guardsmen in the streets of Columbia. This thesis examines the political context and structures at USC in the late 1960s which enabled this explosive but short-lived period of the university's history. Assessing USC activists’ levels of campus coalition building, their place in the political context of the late 1960s, the openness of the school’s political structure, and the forces acting on university and political authorities sheds light onto an environment which was ripe for radical student organizing and reveals core tensions on the Columbia campus which in some ways have never eased.

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