It would be impossible to summarize the national zeitgeist in May of 1970 but two critical events help set the stage for Woodstock West. The names, however, are familiar: Nixon and Kent State. First, President Nixon had campaigned in 1968 that he would end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Among other platform statements that detailed an end to the war, the Republicans wrote in 1968, “We must urgently dedicate our efforts toward restoration of peace both at home and abroad.”[1] His narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Independent George Wallace [2] illustrated, in part, the voters’ support of this platform imperative.

On April 30, 1970, however, the president came clean about a 14 month bombing campaign in Cambodia. This signaled to many he had broken his campaign promise and had, instead, escalated the war he promised to end. This set off the second critical event that provided impetus for Woodstock West. In response to Nixon’s announcement, campuses erupted into protests, strikes, and violence. Perhaps the most well-known incident of this time happened at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. The governor called the National Guard into Kent after various violent incidents occurred in town and on campus.[3] A Monday morning anti-war rally ended with Guardsmen killing four students, wounding nine others and leaving a nation in shock. Woodstock West rose out of these two events.

Woodstock West takes its name from the 1969 concert in Woodstock, NY that promoted values of peace, freedom and love. DU students added "West" to better represent their geographical location. Sometimes, the name "Woodstock West" refers to the disastrous concert held at the Altamont Speedway in December 1969 at which violence was a mainstay and a concert goer was killed by members of the Hell's Angels who were supposedly at the concert as security. However it is fairly certain that DU students chose this name to reflect their connection to the New York extravaganza and their own values of peace and freedom.

[1] [2] In the popular vote Nixon nudged Humphrey 43.42% to 42.72% while third party candidate Wallice received 13.53%. [3]