US: Evoking Vietnam clash, Wisconsin students to protest Halliburton visit

Publisher Name: 
Houston Chronicle

MADISON, Wis. -The memory of William "Curly" Hendershot
is alive and well on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Hendershot was the Dow Chemical Co. recruiter whose 1967 visit here
sparked one of the most important protests of the Vietnam War era. A
sit-in against the company that made napalm used in Vietnam ended in a
bloody clash with police that turned many students into radicals.

On Thursday, students plan to carry signs reading "Curly, off
campus!" as they protest a recruiting visit by a company they see
as a villain in the war in Iraq: Halliburton Co. Protesters plan to
disrupt the company's visit to an engineering career fair by
discouraging students from talking to its representatives.

"We've decided that any war-profiteering recruiter stands in the
tradition of Curly," said Chris Dols, a student and member of the
Campus Antiwar Network, which is organizing the protest. "We're
explicitly drawing the connection between the two."

The 1967 protest started with a sit-in at a university building where
Hendershot was trying to recruit students. When a large crowd of
activists refused to leave, police used their clubs on students to end
the event with force. Dozens were injured.

The police violence turned apathetic students against the war and made
others into antiestablishment radicals. Madison became a hub of the
anti-war movement. Many protests ended with violence or blasts of tear
gas from police. Downtown businesses were vandalized. National Guard
troops were called out.

Among those beaten by police at the Dow protest was Paul Soglin, a
graduate student who later became the city's mayor.

"Halliburton is certainly as offensive a company today as Dow was
40 years ago," he said. "It's just wonderful that these
students are raising these issues about the ethics of a corporation
like that in a university setting."

Students in 1967 demanded the university kick Dow off campus because
of it had a military contract to make napalm, a chemical weapon that
burned the flesh of Vietnamese.

Today's protesters say Halliburton, an oil services company once run
by Vice President Dick Cheney, should not be allowed on campus because
it has profited from the Iraq war with lucrative military

Halliburton notes its former subsidiary, KBR, is the military
contractor and the two became separate companies earlier this year.
The company says it is coming to Madison to look for entry-level
employees and will tolerate the protest.

"We've come to expect this type of spectacle, just as we've come
to expect that the allegations will yet again be misinformed and
incorrect," spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said. "We continue
to support individuals' right to voice their opinions, even when they
have the facts completely wrong."

But the students say the separation doesn't absolve the company of
unethical practices, which they allege include overbilling taxpayers,
neglecting troops and bribing foreign officials. The company denies
the allegations.

Organizers say dozens to several hundred protesters will make their
case to students thinking of meeting with Halliburton representatives
at the career fair.

"We're going to have such a presence there. Through our numbers
and the wit of our argument, we'll turn people away," said Dols,
24, a part-time civil engineering student. "We want to make it an
unpopular thing to approach the Halliburton recruiter."

Halliburton started recruiting from the university in 2003 and is
"interested in strengthening a relationship with the college,"
said Sandra Arnn, an assistant engineering dean. Protesters haven't
targeted the company before.

The university has warned protesters it will not tolerate chanting or
intimidation of students. It also says protesters must allow easy
access to all of the 100 recruiters expected at the

University spokesman John Lucas said students who break the rules
could face disciplinary action from the school and arrest by campus

"We're hopeful it isn't going to come to that and it's one of
these events where people can make their points and not be disruptive
in a way that prevents other people from participating," he

Zach Heise, a 21-year-old senior, said activists decided they would
follow all of the university's rules.

"We want to make
it so that if any law enforcement comes in and says you need to
disperse, we can say we are following the rules and we are going to
stay right here," he said. "But none of us wants to be
clubbed in the head with a billy stick."
AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 15 Halliburton
  • 21 Reconstruction
  • 195 Chemicals