Williams Hall Protests and Unrest

Photo of Williams Hall from the BGSU Historic Campus Tour

Williams Hall was built in 1915, and it has been the site of protest on campus since the mid-1960s. The Universities' Historic tour website states, “One of the two original buildings on campus, and the first to be completed, Williams Hall has always been at the heart of the academic community at Bowling Green State University. Originally, the building served as the 'North Dormitory' and housed the majority of the female students who attended the normal school. The building served in this capacity for forty-nine years until 1964.”

As the academic offices moved into the building, protests were soon to follow. For the University's Centennial Celebration, Associate Professor Emeritus Dr. Roger Anderson exclaimed, “From 1968 until well into the 1970s, the Williams Hall steps became the focal point for numerous rallies and demonstrations. Students and faculty rallied against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, and for African-American, women, Native-American, students' rights and causes as well as many other issues. Rallies on the steps usually were held between noon and 1 p.m. or 4-5 p.m. usually during midweek.”

Coverage of a Vietnam War Protest at Williams Hall
BG News May 22, 1968.   
In 1976 and 1977, many of the protests for racial and ethnic equality stemmed from the arrest and conviction of a Black student, Paul X Moody, who had been charged with attempted rape.

Arraigned the week of April 27, 1976, Moody’s attorney asked to be replaced as his council after hearing the testimony of the white female accuser. Despite hair follicles from the victim's clothing not matching the hair of Moody as well as blood being found on the victim's clothing but not on the clothing of Moody, a jury found him guilty on October 1, 1976. 

Between the time of his arrest and the date of conviction, rallies were held at the steps of Williams hall to protest Moody’s mistreatment and racialized targeting. A Socialist Workers Party candidate attended one such event in July and the “Paul X Moody Defense Fund” was established soon after his April arrest. Moody was sentenced to between 3 and 15 years. Moody’s appealed his conviction all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court. The conviction was placed on the feet of the hasty and biased actions of the BGSU Police. Even to this day, Moody is seen as the scapegoat of a white police force trying to quell racial fears after the reported sexual assault of a white woman by a Black man. This is evident, as the Black Student Union invited Paul Shahied Hasan (formerly Paul X. Moody) to speak on campus in 1990. A BG News article from 1990 demonstrates the highly questionable nature of his conviction: “The woman reportedly gave an unclear description of her young, black attacker to the police because she said, 'all blacks look alike.'"

Coverage of Paul Shahied Hasan's return to campus - BG News November 16, 1990.
In April 1977 the University formed an ad hoc police panel and named two students, two faculty members, two administrators and two trustees to the board for the specific purpose of conducting hearings, studying, deliberating and, finally, issuing a report and recommendations to try to resolve this heated issue. In November of that year the committee issued drastic changes in regards to interactions between the BGSU Police and student body.

This did not stop the protests for equality at Williams Hall. In 1979, the BG News reported, “Several student minority groups presented a list of 12 demands to the administration and organized sit-ins in the offices of University President Hollis A. Moore Jr. and Campus Safety and Security yesterday.” This diverse coalition of students that included the Black Student Union and the Latino Student Union took place on the steps of Williams Hall was grounded in a demand for racial and ethnic equality in the classroom, in course material, and in student and faculty representation.

BG News coverage of the May 1979 protest.

An ad hoc Police committee was formed in 1977 to serve as a check on biased police investigations in the future. Black Student Union Member Kenneth Chambers stated “We're talking about all people," Chambers said. "We're not trying to divide people; we're trying to bring people together." This “bringing together was the force of solidarity that formed many of the protests at Williams Hall."

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