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1969 Letter to the Editor of the Bryan Times by my Mother, Barbara Gerencser

berkely protest 1969
Student Protest Berkley 1969

What follows is a letter my mother wrote to the editor of the Bryan Times It was published May 7, 1969. I am hoping this letter will provide a glimpse of the type of home I grew up in. I was 11 years old when this letter was written. 12 days later, this letter was also published in the Toledo Blade.

Bryan Times:

In view of recent student uprisings, revolts, demonstrations, anarchy and lawlessness on college and university campuses in these United States — I, an American taxpayer and mother of three children, urge a PUBLIC Congressional Investigation into the colleges and universities that fit the above and an investigation into the SDS, its leaders, motives, and followers.

Either local authorities on campus or the government must stop this outrage or there should be a taxpayers’ revolt. I, for one, do not care to support such so-called institutions for a so-called higher education. Why don’t parents of these students cut off funds? Why doesn’t the government cut off funds to such institutions and cut off student loans to such students?

Now, summer approaches and Americans are wondering and waiting to see whether the riots in our cities will resume. Many of these same students will be taking to the streets this summer. Rioting has become a habit, a thrill. I have heard the remark, many riot all day and run home to watch themselves on the 6 o’clock news.

Many Americans are justifiably living in fear. I have heard remarked that only a dictator and a police state will be able to protect American citizens from anarchy and lawlessness. Is this what we want? I ask you to ask yourself, what can I do? What can or should our duly elected government officials do? What can or should our tax supported institutions do? Let your universities and government officials know how you feel. It is time to stand up and be counted.

I had thought that with a new administration (Richard Nixon) we might begin to enter into a period of law and justice and might once again go back to majority rule upon which this country was founded. How can a handful of 50 students completely subdue a college campus and its authorities?

I used to think a college education was an ideal goal for a youngster. Now I am very skeptical of sending my children to such an educational institution. Have you ever asked yourself why the students on the large and small campuses of Bible colleges and other religious institutions are not rioting, or are you trying not to think, period? (now that was one snarky line, Mom)

Did you  ever stop to think that the students who do not like their teachers, courses, university rules and regulations have the freedom to go elsewhere? Perhaps a trip to Vietnam might give them the proper perspective. While our boys fight and die to preserve freedom, the students usurp the freedom and rights of others to an education in a tax supported institution. Teachers not going along with students are being intimidated as well as their families being threatened. Some even have had bomb threats in the name of freedom.

To all college and university authorities, to all judges and law enforcement officials and to all government officials: in regards to the students, I say Amnesty-NO, Prosecution, Expulsion-YES.

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Barbara Gerencser
Route 2, Hicksville


  1. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    OMGOMGOMG, she used her own name, not her husband’s!

    Sorry, that was pure snark, but I remember getting mail in the 1980s to Mrs. [Husband’s First Name][Our Last Name]. Unless it was from family, it got shredded. If it was from family, the offender got an earful about how I was NOT chattel of my husband, and they could damn well address me by my first name. I was told that I should be grateful to be Mrs. [His Name]. and I responded that their mail would go into the bin if they addressed me that way.

    Back on topic, I remember that college campus lawlessness was on my parents’ minds even in 1976, when I went off to live in the dorms. They remembered the riots of the 1960s. They were reassured by the fact that there was a dorm floor advisor for each floor; these august people would presumably keep us in line. Hah! I never told my parents half of what went on in the dorms, because they wouldn’t approve… but for most of the time I didn’t felt unsafe, it’s just that there was a lot of alcohol and marijuana about, and too many stereos cranked waaay too high. Alas, alcohol in particular leads to date rape sometimes, and there was an attempted one in the dorm near the end of my second year. That got me the ammunition I needed to get into an apartment. No more public bathrooms!

    There were no riots on campus in my 4 and a half years there. However, there was LOTS of activity (including protests) that Mom and Dad would have freaked out about. Best for the conservative parents not to know, especially since I was not involved.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I have a clip of a 1970s news article about my mother’s lawsuit against Winebrenner Nursing Home. The article ends with my mother’s marital history, divorced and remarried, and how many children she has. I kid you not. Such reporting today would likely cause an uproar, as it should. Mom’s marital status or how many kids she had was not relevant.

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