Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, colleges and universities were at the center of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the United States. While there were certainly moments of tense, violent protest at American institutions such as Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there were many more moments of nonviolent, peaceful protest at other institutions, particularly Catholic colleges and universities such as Providence College, Notre Dame University, and its sister school St. Mary’s College. While Catholic college students were not the only American students to employ peaceful methods of protest in conveying their opposition to the war, they comprised a significant faction of nonviolent student activists. Always working to differentiate themselves from the radical anti-war movement and emphasizing their commitment to peaceful, nonviolent methods of protest, students at Catholic colleges and universities could appeal to their respective communities in ways that violent student protestors could not. Whereas the violent, chaotic movements at some secular colleges and universities often alienated the general public, the public was much more receptive to and understanding of the peaceful movements at Catholic universities. In turn, although anti-war protests at Catholic college campuses have not received as much attention as anti-war protests at some of the more elite, secular college campuses, peaceful anti-war protests at Catholic college campuses may actually have been more effective in contributing to the end of the Vietnam War than violent anti-war protests at some secular colleges.
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