1960s - At the heart of the protests

Throughout the 1960s, students were galvanised by a growing protest movement against the Vietnam War, MEGAN STOYLES, BA (Hons) ’68, writes.

In 1964, ANU was a campus of two parts. There was the Institute of Advanced Studies, with its internationally-recognised research focus, and the School of General Studies (SGS), with a traditional undergraduate and postgraduate structure.

When the Vietnam conflict and Australia’s role in it became the subject of public interest and opposition, ANU academics were early participants in the national policy debate.

As a second year Political Science student, I attended public debates with TB Millar, JDB Miller and others from the Institute, as well as my lecturers including Bob Gollan, Ian Wilson, Bruce McFarlane and Bob Cooksey.

The Institute had close links with Australian and US defence, foreign affairs and intelligence and its experts were early proponents of the domino theory that a communist victory from China via Vietnam would overrun Asia down to Australia. This soon underpinned Australian Government policy.

A different mood prevailed over at the SGS, where campus discussions started with public lectures, then moved to teach-ins, along with a transition from antiwar sentiment to support for the National Liberation Front in 1966.  

For some students this signified the beginning of a wider analysis of US imperialism.