Note from Donald L. Taylor, Former Associate Dean of Students

01-06-11

I served as the Associate Dean of Students at Belknap from 1969 to 1972, and would like to respond to the issue raised by the gentleman from Tuftonborough, re: that Belknap College was a haven for “draft dodgers”. ¬†First, however, I would like to thank him for serving and tell him that I respect his decision to join the military and risk his life in Korea and Viet Nam.

I had the opportunity to ask hundreds of students the question, “Why did you choose Belknap?” Never once did anyone tell me “to avoid the draft and the Viet Nam war.” Young people came to Belknap to exchange urban living for country living; for the benefits of a small college; for specific majors; and in a few cases, “to get away from my parents.” Could it be that some were there for a deferment? Certainly, but not in any significant numbers. It might be noted that Dick Cheney (perhaps a hero to the Tuftonborough resident?) had at least six student deferments to keep him safely from the reach of the military.

I do recall many serious conversations, discussions, and passionate debates about the military complex and the Viet Nam war. And, as the word debate suggests, there were proponents and opponents. Democracy in action – the very democracy our friend from Tuftonborough fought to defend.

The man’s threat that 100,000 motorcyclists would swarm into Center Harbor to destroy public property suggests that he might be knee- deep in legal woes if it ever came to pass, especially if he were to be identified as the ringleader: conspiracy to riot and commit mayhem; destruction of government property (the Town of Center Harbor); felony vandalism…etc., etc.

This proud veteran voiced his opposition to the bench, marker, and sign and in the course of his remarks made two erroneous assumptions. The first being that students only attended Belknap to avoid the draft and the second being that the 100,000 bikers (200,000 if they are riding double!) would be staunch military suporters and/or veterans anxious to dismantle the gifts Belknap alumni gave to the town that welcomed and supported them for 10 years. I addressed the first assumption earlier and now challenge the second one. Valid public opinion polls show that in May of 1968 only 40% of Americans supported the Viet Nam war. By May of 1971 that number had dropped dramatically to just 28%. I would suggest, then, that because many of the potential invading bikers were no doubt young people during the period in question, as many as 72% of them could have been opposed to the Viet Nam war and that not all of them served in the military. The bikers have other things to do when they come into New Hampshire and I don’t believe pillaging and plundering Center Harbor will be on their list of priorities.

The man from Tuftonborough certainly has a right to his opinions but he does not have a right to be wrong in his facts as he is in this instance.

Donald L. Taylor, Former Associate Dean of Students

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