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Riot at Princeton University

May 7, 1963 - More than 1,000 Princeton University students went on a rampage on the campus and in town last night and early today. Fourteen undergraduates were arrested after mobs of shouting students, moving in one main body and in split-off bands, had inflicted considerable property damage during their three-hour spree. The students set fires, tried to overturn a two-car train, tore up iron fences, ripped off house screens, and sent a one-ton air compressor crashing into a lamppost. The outburst started with a barrage of cherry bombs last night on the campus, and it spread swiftly. Dr. Robert G. Goheen, president of Princeton, made it clear today that “high spirits” would not be accepted as an excuse for the rioting. He described the outbreak as the “worst I’ve seen,” and one of the university’s proctors termed it “just about the worst ever.” “Their conduct cannot be brushed aside by ‘spring madness,’ ‘boys will be boys,’ or any such euphemism,” Dr. Goheen declared. “This riot was a shocking display of individual and collective hooliganism on the part of young men who have no possible justification for sinking into it.” The university’s president called the riot a “surrender to raw mass impulse,” and he stressed that “severe disciplinary action” was planned for students who had caused damage. He said it was too early to discuss the form of punishment, but he noted that penalties handed out following a similar riot in 1930 included suspension and dismissal. Dr. Goheen’s home was targeted during the riot. The students tore down a 45-foot section of an iron fence around his property and trampled flowers and bushes. The undergraduates also lobbed cherry bombs onto the lawn at Morven, the residence of Governor Richard J. Hughes. Governor Hughes took a more philosophical view of the event today, stating: “It’s spring, and the sap begins to run."


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