Chief Justice Earl Warren administering the oath of office to Richard M. Nixon on the east portico of the US Capitol on January 20, 1969. (Architect of the Capitol photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZC4-7728)


It’s not just political. It’s hydrological.

As a second-year in 1968–69, Wendy (Glockner) Kates, AB’71 (political science), AM’77, PhD’83 (comparative human development), wrote thoughtful, compelling stories about the 1969 sit-in at the Administration building for the Chicago Maroon. She also contributed this satirical piece about a  protest organized by Students for Violent Non-Action (a real student club at the University). Now professor emeritus at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Kates notes by email, “Most of my writing activities during the past 30 years have been limited to NIH research grant proposals and scientific papers.”

Students Welcome New President with Flush-In

The Chicago Maroon, January 17, 1969, p. 2

By Wendy Glockner

January 20, 1969. A bleak, cold, snowy day. Thousands of people stand shivering in front of the capitol in Washington D.C. as a glowing and self-confident Richard Nixon recites his inaugural oath. As he stutters his last words through chattering teeth, “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God,” the crowd lets go with wild cheers.

But people are not cheering in Chicago. The city’s plumbing system has just exploded. Lake Michigan is draining quickly. Mayor Daley is drowned in a flood at city hall.

“Flush for Freedom,” the devious scheme by which every possible toilet in the country will be flushed as Nixon delivers the last word of his oath, is a success.

The idea for this “massive demonstration in protest of the existence of the new administration” comes from the Students for Violent Non-Action (SVNA). “As we see it, the northeast and southwest will break off, and a huge wave will whip across this country and over the mountains,” asserted Frank Malbranche, national co-ordinator of SVNA. “The San Andreas Fault will be demolished. The tidal wave will result in a huge inland sea in the great plains area. Chicago is sure to get wiped out.” …

“People are prevented from expressing their own opinions at election time; votes are stolen,” Malbranche said. “We want everyone to vote no—to press the no lever in the privacy of their own home. While a vote can be stolen, a broken water main cannot be denied.” …