Presentation On Students Rights Movement At OU Set For Thursday

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Two Ohio University alumni, photojournalist Ken Steinhoff and journalist Carol Towarnicky will give a presentation Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in Porter 108 about the emergence of women’s rights on this campus in the 1960s and 1970s.

During that period, Ohio University students participated in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam that sometimes included tear gas, violence, and the presence of the Ohio National Guard on campus, according to Towarnicky.

“But while women students participated in these demonstrations, their own dress and movements were strictly circumscribed by university rules. In particular, a set of curfews for women limited their use of the library late at night, prevented them from fully participating in student government or simply going out for a cup of coffee with a friend,” Towarnicky said. “The rules seem ludicrous now, but these so-called “women’s hours” were no joke: violating them could imperil one’s college career.”

The policy was called the doctrine of in loco parentis whereby the university acted as parents for women students. Equal rules were not applied to male students.

“In 1969, women and men students demanded that the university treat women as grownups. They engaged in ‘civil disobedience,’ staying out past their curfews and demonstrated at a meeting of the Ohio University Board of Trustees,” Towarnicky added. “They weren’t immediately successful but they started to think about things differently and that was the beginning of one of the most far-reaching societal changes in our lifetime.”

Both Towarnicky and Steinhoff will share their perspectives of this critical time in Ohio University’s history. Steinhoff also will share his photos from that momentous period. He's also produced a short movie on the students rights movement which is posted above.

The event is being co-sponsored by the Ohio University History Association and the Athens County Historical Society and Museum. It is open to the public and free.