In spring 1969, student grievances over the Vietnam War, race relations, College governance and coeducation led to plans to take over a College building. Advance warning allowed an ad hoc committee of students and faculty to request a two-day suspension of classes (April 28 and 29), called the Moratorium, to allow for College-wide discussion of these campus and national concerns.
On Friday, April 25, 1969 the Amherst College Faculty in a closed meeting decided to suspend classes for two days, April 28 and 29. The Moratorium was declared to provide a campus-wide discussion to evaluate the College's problems in response to a proposal made by the English 98 Seminar, "English and Education." Out of these two days the College community voted on the Ad Hoc Committee's proposals dealing with reforms to the college and the drafting of a letter addressed to President Nixon informing him of "our concern as a committed institution for the existing relationship between the crisis on the university campus today and the larger ills of society." (Amherst Student, April 30, 1969)
On May 14, 1969, at the instigation of the College's Afro-American Society, Amherst held a Black Moratorium, in which seminars were held to address issues of race relations and black dissatisfaction. (This event contributed to the College's decision to found the Black Studies Department in 1970.)
On October 15, 1969, Amherst College again interrupted its normal academic activities by observing "Vietnam Moratorium Day." Millions of Americans throughout the United States participated in anti-war demonstrations, rallies, parades, teach-ins, forums, prayers and the reading of the roll of Vietnam dead.
On May 3, 1970, area college students organized a strike to coincide with a national student strike to protest "the U.S. entry into Cambodia, political repression at home, and campus complicity in the form of ROTC and war-related research" (Amherst Student, June 4, 1970, p. 18). On May 4, the faculty joined with the student body in proposing a temporary cancellation of classes and the initiation of Departmental Committees to discuss the issues and act on them. On May 5 the faculty passed another resolution to make each student "free to decide individually where he will put his energy during the days ahead"; classes were allowed to continue if the student and teacher were so amenable. Then, on May 7, after a proposal by the Ad Hoc Student Assembly Steering Committee, the faculty voted to suspend classes for the remainder of the semester.