Rudd Applies Lessons as Vietnam Activist to Modern Student Protest

By Cameron Jury, Staff Writer

Mark Rudd came to Gettysburg College this Tuesday to speak to students about his time as an anti-war activist and political organizer specifically relating to his memoir: Underground: My Life With SDS and the Weathermen. Now 72-years-old, Rudd shared his experience organizing a student revolution in 1968 at Columbia University.

Rudd spoke with a great passion and even greater nostalgia to the students and faculty sitting in Mara Auditorium. He covered a range of topics as he answered many questions–each answer providing a new insight into the world of a man who has lived it all.

Today, he serves as a national symbol for rebels everywhere for being one of the leaders and figures of the movement against the Vietnam War and more specifically against the institutional racism displayed within Columbia University. He was a leading member of the Students For A Democratic Society (SDS) and co-founded a faction called the Weathermen.

After finding peaceful actions to be ineffective in his youth, Rudd and his peers looked to violence: he took part in non-lethal bombings, which led him to be pinned as a terrorist, listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and eventually move to live underground in hiding for more than seven years. 

He spent a large portion of time reflecting on his life when he was younger from the perspective he has now, saying that he now no longer has “the fantasy of revolution.” Rudd said that he has spent the rest of his life wanting to recreate the movement, but at the same time made a point to say that in life, “The whole point of all of this is grandchildren. I don’t know why, but it is”. 

Yet, the topic that took up the majority of the time was students wanting advice from Rudd about the events happening now in the world and how to respond to them. He discussed everything from climate change to the upcoming presidential election–often reinforcing the fact that that he thinks that we have a lot of work to do while at the same time mentioning that “you’re closer to the truth than we were.”

Rudd described how it’s time for us “to organize for a moral rebirth of this country” and how he still believes that the U.S. military is the biggest terrorist organization in the country. Altogether, he encouraged students to be hopeful knowing that they each hold the power to use their actions to make an immense difference in the world. 

With a few other jokes, such as a quip about the bad idea of staying with your high school girlfriend or a comical insult of Donald Trump, the room applauded Rudd for his shared wisdom. A few students and faculty ran to him with books in hand to get signatures and to thank him for speaking. As he signed books, each signature saying “Time to organize,” he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to speak with college students that hold the same fire and passion that he once did. Rudd can be reached at for further inquiries.

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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1 Comment

  1. How many people attended?
    Student number estimate?
    Is there an opposite view speaker scheduled to attend?

    It gives great comfort that internal and external terrorist threats will be met by the intelligence, skills and patriotism of. the U.S. military. In little GETTYSBURG? Think: Blow up symbols of Americanism —- Lincoln’s address site; Eisenhower Institute; Penn Hall of the first Lutheran college in America.

    In that event, what would the Ayers’ s unrepentant disciples do for you?

    Indeed, what could the unarmed college safety force do for your protection?

    Romanticize these leftover traitors? They were. No, thank the families and memories of the GBURG kids that got killed and injured in Vietnam. They went, very few wanted to go, but they went.

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