|All Sources > Manitou Messenger (DA-MM) > The Manitou Messenger (1916-2014) > 1969 > No. 20, Vol. 82|
(Editor's note: Following is the statement issued by the "Vigil for Peace" at the sit-in in the St. Olaf administration building last Wednesday.)
It is in the institutions, like St. Olaf College, that the power for change really lies in American society. This power is persuasive power, which resides in institutions by their nature as suppliers of goods and services. It involves economic, political and moral influences. The effectiveness of this power is strongly evidenced in institutional conglomorates such as the military-industrial complex, which controls military spending and determines our military posture.
By its nature an institution takes a position either for or against the status quo in society, for it is through institutional power that the status quo is maintained. Some institutions may even determine the status quo and naturally will further it. Since an institution cannot avoid taking positions on societal issues, it must do so consciously and responsibly and use its power to back them.
Furthermore, such institutional positions must be morally based. Only through answering the moral question are selfish biases overcome and a justification for action given.
The individual in American society cannot escape institutional power because he constantly works with and becomes identified with institutions. Institutions must, therefore, be made responsive to the individual, and it is the responsibility of the individual to challenge the institutions he is a part of.
We are gathered today to challenge St. Olaf College. We demand that it assume its full role as an institution. St. Olaf has not done this in the past because it refuses to speak out on many societal issues. Specifically, it has not spoken out on the war in Vietnam. It has chosen to support the status quo. As an institution, St. Olaf College supports the war.
We protest the college's silence on its position. We protest its failure to answer the moral question. We protest its support of the war.
We believe the war in Vietnam is an immoral act of aggression against the people of Vietnam by the United States. We feel it imperative that St. Olaf College go on record as opposed to the war on moral grounds and that it use its power to influence President Nixon's war policy.
We wait in vigil, sorrowed and ashamed, for a reply.