Willard Broom (BS ’72, advertising; EDM ’78, education) and Dan Perrino (BME ’48, MS ’49, music education) discuss how administrators coped with campus demonstrations
Dan Perrino: And we had some students who were a part of our staff—they were almost like spies, I guess. They would collect information as to what was happening on the campus, and they would report back so that we could try to resolve the problem. And Willard was one of them. It was a good group of students.
Willard Broom: That was during the demonstrations, when we had a rumor center. That was part of the rumor center operations.
Perrino: Yeah. That’s right.
Willard: The purpose of that, as I recall, was there were lots of demonstrations—thousands of students marching in the street—and then all of sudden a radio station or a TV station in Chicago or the Quad cities would report that the Assembly Hall had been bombed. And, of course, that would throw the whole city into a tizzy. Or they would report that somebody had been killed or injured…
Perrino: Or 200 students had kidnapped the chancellor in his office. And you couldn’t get 20 people in his office.
Willard: Oh ok. I actually never heard that. So the purpose of the rumor center was to be an independent source of credible information.
Perrino: Yeah. I think Frank Nazca put up a long piece of butcher paper, put it on the wall. And they would write down the questions. You remember that?
Willard: Yeah, yeah.
Perrino: And one mother called up and said, "I understand there’s a machine gun nest in the administration building. (laughs) Those were the kinds of rumors we had.
Willard: So there’d be a demonstration or whatever event would be taking place. I was one of a group of students who went out, observed what was happening, and would call back to the rumor center. I had to have a pocket full of dimes, because you had to find a pay phone to call back to the rumor center. And then I would report, you know, there’s 3,000 people. And they would say, "We heard they were 10,000." And I go, "No, there’s 3,000." "Is the Assembly Hall on fire?" "No. The Armory is not on fire either." But that was the rumors they were getting. So, I would just give them the information or clarification. And I was one of, I don’t know, a half-dozen students that did that.