Observed changes at Rensselaer

Dear Poly Editor:

200 students occupied the Pittsburgh Building—the administration building at the time. It was spring 1969, and we were protesting something about President Folsom’s position on the library.  I was ensconced in a quiet corner on the first floor when Assistant Dean Carl Westerdahl entered the building to check on things.  He came over to me and asked how I was feeling (not great). He felt my forehead and said, “You have a fever. You need to go to the infirmary.” I replied, with a smile, that he was not going to succeed in clearing out 200 students by convincing them that they all needed medical attention. He implored me to get myself checked out, but I resisted. Then he said, “If you go to the infirmary and are okay, I promise to let you come back into the building and resume your spot on the floor.” I was impressed with his genuine concern and sincerity (considering that he had a major headache of his own to deal with), and I marched over to the infirmary.  My temperature was over 102 degrees, and I was diagnosed with strep throat eventually—but that is another story.  So, I could not go back to the protest and I never had the chance to test his promise, but have always believed that he would have honored it. Soon after that, Westerdahl contacted me and asked if I would be willing to serve on the Student Judicial Board. From what I have read lately of the current administration’s treatment of students involved in the recent student union protest, the relationship is not what it was.

Michael R. Poulin, Esq. ‘73