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Spinning the Zip to Zap: Student Journalist Responsibility and Vulnerability in the Late 1960s

Richard Shafer

Volume 13, 2000


Abstract

This media study presents the historical, cultural, and social context in which a failed spring-break festival, the Zip to Zap, occurred in rural North Dakota in May 1969. It addresses factors of student press responsibility with regard to conceptualizing and promoting the event, and of the failure of the national press to move beyond stereotypical representations of both college students, and of rural American attitudes and behaviors. Zip to Zap coverage provides a valuable case study of the tension between forces and expressions of social change, and those of the status quo in American society in the late 1960s. This tension is apparent from North Dakota and national press accounts of active and often violent student resistance to major American foreign policies, manifestations of radical domestic social change, and with regard to a perceived generational assault on revered American political, social, economic, and religious institutions.

 

Introduction

This article looks at how student newspaper journalists at several geographically isolated universities in the Upper Midwest reacted both personally and editorially to the larger social and political forces impacting the nation in the turbulent spring of 1969. The Zip to Zap, a grand failure of a music and beer festival promoted by campus newspapers, is used as a case study to illustrate the often euphoric and challenging circumstances under which student journalists carried out their information filtering and gatekeeping duties in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It also outlines the social and historical context in which the Zip to Zap took place, particularly in regard to the attitudes of college students at the time, and in regard to the American public's general perception of them. The research primarily relies on historical narrative to explain the evolution of the Zip to Zap as a representative social and cultural event. The historical narrative is appropriate here because it goes beyond the mere recitation of facts. According to Harvard historian Richard Marius, such a method provides a strong sense of the existing tensions and resolution of those tensions, to capture important elements of time and of place (Marius, 1995).

This historical narrative is extended with excerpts and analysis from primary sources in the form of newspapers and interviews. This method allows us to engage in an analysis of media coverage of the Zip to Zap phenomenon, addressing important journalistic factors of: (1) student press responsibility with regard to conceptualizing and promoting an event seemingly destined to fail; (2) state and local press complicity in its promotion; (3) the failure of the national press to move beyond stereotypical representations of student attitudes and behaviors in reporting the Zip to Zap, and (4) the failure of national press coverage to move beyond condescending and similarly stereotypical representations of isolated and rural sectors of the United States, such as North Dakota.

Media coverage of the Zip to Zap well illustrates the tension between forces and expressions of social change, and forces and of expressions of the status quo colliding within American society in the years surrounding 1969. This tension is apparent from national and statewide media accounts of active and often violent student resistance to major American foreign policies, from accounts of radical domestic social change, and also from media descriptions of a generational assault on revered American political, social, economic, and religious institutions. By engaging in a broader analysis of the Zip to Zap phenomenon, this study makes unique sociological and media studies contributions to what has been primarily a history-centered literature on this important but quirky North Dakota event.

This article first documents the conditions of student unrest and political expression in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It then offers a detailed analysis of relevant media coverage of such expressions and events. It particularly focuses on such coverage appearing in the North Dakota State University Spectrum, because the Spectrum staff is credited with conceptualizing, promoting, and organizing the Zip to Zap event. Coverage of the event is also examined from the three largest North Dakota daily newspapers (the Grand Forks Herald, the Bismarck Tribune and the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead), as well as from the Dakota Student of the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks (UND), for the two-week period prior to and during the Zip to Zap weekend (approximately April 26 to May 13, 1969).

These student newspapers are used to contrast the expectation in North Dakota for a traditional and normal college spring break event, with what would seem to be a more logical expectation for a disorderly and militant gathering of thousands of college students, given the general instability of America's college campuses in 1969, and given the violence and police reaction to large student gatherings nationwide. Certainly student activism and political expression was on a steep rise throughout the United States and Western Europe that spring, and students at NDSU and UND were fully informed.

 

Media portrayal of campus disorder

During the late 1960s and early 1970s college campuses nationwide were in disorder, as thousands of students protested, rioted and boycotted classes. National, state, and local government agencies, as well as the mass media, were reacting as if the nation and its campuses were on the eve of an Armageddon. Newspaper and television reporting for that spring conveyed alarm at what seemed to be an approaching domestic cultural, racial, and generational civil war, while on the international front, the American mass media presented almost daily evidence of an impending debacle for American military forces in Vietnam.

Dissident college students justified violence as a means to effect change, and particularly to end the Vietnam War. International and domestic political, social, and economic conditions seemed to warrant disrupting normal campus life, shutting down campuses, avoiding conscription, and even sabotaging campus research facilities and ROTC buildings. By late 1969, National Guard units had been called to intervene in over 200 domestic civil disorders across the nation. The Report of the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, released September 26, 1970, reflected this national alarm:

The crisis on American campuses has no parallel in the history of the nation. This crisis has roots in divisions of American society as deep as any since the Civil War. The divisions are reflected in violent acts and harsh rhetoric, and in the enmity of those Americans who see themselves as occupying opposing camps (The Report on the President's Commission on Campus Unrest,1970).

The report further states that the level of violence on American campuses was steadily rising, that students and authorities had been killed and injured, and that valuable public and private property and scholarly works had been damaged or destroyed. The commission called for a national cease-fire, adding that too many Americans had begun to justify violence as a means toward either effecting change, or of holding onto traditions. The report said that too many had forsaken the values and sense of shared humanity uniting Americans, and that campus disorder reflected this national condition. It added that a new culture was emerging, primarily among students, in which membership was often manifested by differences in dress and lifestyle (The Report on the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, 1970). The image conveyed by the press in the late 1960s and early 1970s was of college students in rebellion against the government, as well as against the traditional norms and values of American society.

There appears to have been a vocal and articulate minority of North Dakota college students who were radicalized along the ideological and political lines of the most vocal and expressive American students of their time, and this minority seems to have been in control of the campus press at the major institutions in the region. Their ideas were widely disseminated and were apparently effective in radicalizing other students.

For instance, in the March 22 issue of the NDSU Spectrum, staff reporters Kathy Anderson and Sandy Scheel published a lengthy feature titled: "Student, Worker Uprising: Behind the Barricades in France," based on interviews in Fargo with Elisabeth Caron, a visiting Sorbonne University student, who had been jailed during the traumatic student riots in Paris in November 1968. There was also a report of 400 students demonstrating against military recruiters being located in the Student Union at what was then Moorhead State College (MSC; now Minnesota State University Moorhead), just across the Red River in Minnesota.

In September 1969, MSC Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) members published in the campus newspaper a four-point "plan of attack" calling for minority student recruitment, abolition of the ROTC, more relevant curriculum, and for an end to what they termed authoritarian policies governing student life. In May 1970, MSC students voted to strike, in a show of sympathy for students killed by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University. MSC President Roland Dille allowed 400 students to leave the school early in the spring of that semester without penalty, so they wouldn't continue to disrupt the rest of the campus. Dille had incurred student wrath the year before by suspending publication of the student paper, the Mistic, for publishing what he considered to be profane material. For North Dakota anti-nuclear advocates and those remembering the state's long struggle for political and economic independence, there was much to protest.

 

Opposition to North Dakota's new
dependency on federal defense spending

On May 16, 1970, while more than 3,000 anti-missile protesters gathered at the University of North Dakota (UND) at Grand Forks, about 1,500 more gathered at the site of the planned Safeguard missile base near Nekoma, N.D. Joining the Nekoma group were Chicago Seven defendants John Froines and Dave Dellinger. Despite such protests, the state itself remained a good friend to the military, as well as to national defense industries. North Dakota's representatives in Washington continued to promote the state as a hospitable location for defense and weapons spending.

Only weeks before the Zip to Zap, the Nixon Administration announced its decision to build the first of the Safeguard anti-ballistic missile installations in North Dakota. The underpopulated state was already home to two major Air Force bases. In reporting North Dakota's new allocation of missiles, Newsweek said that between 1962 and 1967 the U.S. Air Force sowed 1,000 Titan and 54 Titan Two intercontinental ballistic missiles beneath the "protective soil" of states such as North Dakota (Newsweek, April 7, 1969). It seemed to those opposing the expanding military presence in the state that North Dakota had sold out on its radical past. In a postscript to Elwyn Robinson's History of North Dakota, first published in 1966, UND historian Jerome Tweton writes that:

Robinson stressed how the state's remoteness, dependence, and colonial economic status shaped its politics, especially, and most remarkably, by giving it a vital agrarian radical tradition. During the past generation, dependency and economic colonialism have continued to shape the politics of the state, but agrarian radicalism has disappeared, largely because the relationship between North Dakota and the federal government has changed dramatically (Robinson, 1966).

Robinson wrote that before the 1930s the federal government frequently served as an impediment to what North Dakotans wanted to accomplish, carrying them into war when they desired peace, and helping to elect a conservative minority to undermine the Nonpartisan League's success with socialist experiments on behalf of North Dakota farmers, beginning with electing the radical populist Lynn J. Frazier as governor in 1916 (Robinson, 1966).

Populist and socialist movements in the state were dealt a heavy blow with the repression of those opposed to America entering World War I, and with plunging crop prices following that war. In North Dakota the Great Depression immediately followed the agricultural recession of the 1920s. A depressed farm economy continued until the eve of World War II. Most of the North Dakota college students of the 1960s were of a generation that was less than a decade removed from the kind of poverty that these economic troubles brought to their communities and families.

Still, most North Dakota students of the late 1960s were not themselves victims of such troubling times. By 1969, the farm economy, which drove the state, was very much improved and was about to have some of its best years. The strong Air Force presence in the state was a big boost to the economy. So, it was a relatively well off, perhaps economically complacent, and legitimately optimistic generation of students who were attending North Dakota's colleges and universities in the late 1960s. These were some of the major political and historical circumstances when the idea for the Zip to Zap festival was spawned.

 

The campus press promotes the Zip to Zap

The conceptualization and planning of the Zip to Zap indicates that college students, particularly in the northern Midwest, were trying to carry on normal campus life much as their older siblings, parents and grandparents had when they were college students. The Zip to Zap was promoted nationwide as the "Grand Festival of Light and Love." It was to be held on the weekend of May 10 and 11, 1969, at the North Dakota coal-mining town of Zap, population 250. The Zip to Zap was national news before the festival began, but the event got even more media attention after between 2,000 and 3,000 students were dispersed by more than 500 North Dakota National Guardsmen at the festival. The student planners never intended that it would turn confrontational, but the press had made a lot of promises organizers and Zap citizens couldn't deliver on. The origin of the idea for the Zip to Zap has not been fully established.

Chuck Stroup, 1969 NDSU student body president, said in a telephone interview that he came up with the idea for the Zip to Zap and "went downstairs" from his student government office to suggest it to the NDSU Spectrum newspaper staff. He explained that he was motivated by being unable to afford to join his sister in going to Florida for spring break that year. Stroup said he intended to promote a cheap alternative near his hometown of Hazen, N.D., where he is now a bank president (Stroup, 1999).

Stroup said there was a local joke that had to do with having to pass through the towns of Zap, Gackle and Mott to get anywhere in North Dakota. Stroup claims to have purchased the first classified ads in the Spectrum announcing the festival, but admits that he has forgotten many of the details about those ads and the subsequent publicity and promotion. Kevin Carvell, NDSU Spectrum editor in 1969, remembers that it was a page one Spectrum article that "lit the fuse" of what became the Zip to Zap. It reported that Zap, located in the valley of the beautiful Knife River, planned to enthusiastically welcome students. The article proclaimed that students were expected from all over the Midwest, and that Zap would become the "Lauderdale of the North" (Carvell, 1999).

Stroup says he believes the Spectrum "did a wonderful job" of promoting the Zip to Zap, and that the reason the festival got out of hand was that there was little knowledge in North Dakota about organizing large events and about utilizing proper crowd control procedures. Upper Great Plains states, according to Stroup, may have been a decade behind the rest of the nation with regard to confronting student unrest. He said anti-Vietnam war and other 1960s-era protests were rare on campuses from Texas to North Dakota. "North Dakota students weren't ready to protest," Stroup said about the spring of 1969. Stroup, as head of student government, may have been expressing the dominant and conservative views and practices of the majority of North Dakota college students at the time.

Such conditions might help explain why, despite the existence of radical and activist groups of students on North Dakota and neighboring Minnesota campuses, the Zip to Zap seems to have been conceived and planned without a political or social activist agenda. Subtitled, "Grand Festival of Life and Love," the Zip to Zap, according to 1968-1969 NDSU Spectrum editor Kevin Carvell, was never intended to be a political event. Carvell is quoted in a 1999 retrospective feature article in the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead as saying that from the beginning the Zip to Zap was to be a "lark." He says, however, that it was a lark that went awry on a grand scale. "Anyone who stops to think about this can see it was destined to be one of the great fiascoes of our time," Carvell lamented in the Forum article (the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 1999).

If the NDSU student paper, and Carvell as editor, exhibited irresponsibility in encouraging thousands of potentially drunken college students to descend on the remote village of Zap, then the national and community media were complicit in further hyping the event, although they did convey some concern about the hazards. The Forum, for instance, in a May 3 page one story, noted that Governor Bill Guy had conferred with Highway Patrol officials about the anticipated influx of thousands of college students. Guy is reported to have been primarily concerned with traffic flow in and out of Zap. The governor acknowledged in the story that no one could predict how many students would show up. Major General LeClair Melhouse, state adjutant general, said he hoped there would be no need for any National Guardsmen, and the governor commented that if National Guardsmen were needed, they would probably be utilized for traffic control (the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 1969).

The Bismarck Tribune remained guardedly optimistic about the approaching Zip to Zap festival, when on April 29 it ran a page-one story saying, "Destiny is about to rear either its beautiful or tumultuous head, or both, May 10, to project this quiet Mercer County city of 300 into national fame in a coincidence of double exposure. Thousands of collegians plan to descend upon Zap in a zip-in, zap-out frenzy of welcoming spring, while shedding their winter blues." An accompanying photo shows Zap Mayor Norman Fuchs playing with the Zip-Zap, a new toy that Wham-O Corp. was launching in conjunction with the North Dakota festival (Bismarck Tribune, 1969).

The Zap story was picked up by the Associated Press and disseminated nationally. The festival organizers, basking in the unexpected publicity, appear to have been oblivious to the potential for violence, disorder, and destruction. The town of Zap began to optimistically prepare for thousands of spring break celebrants, and citizens expressed optimism for a resulting economic boom. Mayor Fuchs is quoted as saying afterward, "We thought, well, we'll put ourselves on the map here" (Bismarck Tribune, 1969). The town began to stock up on beer and the makings for "zapburgers."

When the Zip to Zap turned into a rowdy beer bash, brawl, and riot by the first night (May 9, 1969), requiring deployment of five companies of the North Dakota National Guard, the press and public reacted with surprise and anger. The media images shocked relatively complacent upper Midwesterners, especially North Dakotans with children and grandchildren attending the state's colleges and universities (Bretling, 1991).

Jerry Cooper and Glenn Smith, in their history of the North Dakota National Guard, report that by that Friday night, 2,000 youths had reached the town. When temperatures dropped to below freezing by 9 p.m., a bonfire was started on Zap's Main Street, using wood from the floor of a building that had been demolished long before the festival.1

A melee began, eventually destroying the interior of a tavern and a café. Students danced, sang, embraced, and brawled. They passed out, vomited, urinated in the open, and wandered deliriously around the town. One NDSU student was reported to have attacked a National Guardsman with a log chain. The Guard reportedly reacted by pinning him against a car and pummeling him with their rifle butts.

This appears to have been a rare incident. The Guard had been instructed to use only minimum force and to avoid alienating the civilian populace. Guardsmen had been instructed not to exchange epithets or profane language with civilians, and only police were allowed to search and detain the students. Because of national events, there was some uneasiness among state authorities about how the National Guard would perform at Zap.

Cooper and Smith further report that because of the poor performance of the Michigan National Guard during the Detroit riots of 1967, Governor Guy, state police, and local military authorities were cautious about diffusing the situation at Zap without over-reacting. National Guard Commander General Melrose gave his officers a thorough review of the latest "aid to civil authority" procedures. He was compelled by federal directives, which were a response to the urban riots of the mid-1960s. The Department of the Army had recently directed all Army National Guard Units to complete 32 hours of riot-duty training in 1969, and to hold 16 hours of refresher training each year afterward. The federal government also issued riot-control equipment to all state militias as part of their annual equipment allotments.

Cooper and Smith report that the North Dakota National Guard had taken its riot-control training in 1967, but still lacked riot batons, gas masks, and chemical crowd-control agents. North Dakota Guard units holding drill May 9, 1969, were to review that training. Commanders were reminded that it would be the first time any of them had actually participated in an exercise in this type of crowd control.

By Saturday (May 10) at daybreak, 500 Guardsman had surrounded Zap, and 200 of them moved into the town at 6:30 a.m. with fixed bayonets, although less than 200 students were awake and celebrating. The Bismarck Tribune reported that the Guard woke up and dispersed about 1,000 visitors sleeping in cars, ravines, bushes, and on the ground around Zap. It made for good television images, including the lead story that evening on the CBS Evening News, with Walter Cronkite reporting (Cooper, 1986).

Cooper and Smith place much of the blame for the violence and disorder at Zap on the student and state newspapers promoting it, quoting a Bismarck Tribune editorial of May 8, 1969, as saying, "We hope Zap gets college students from all over the country, and that the boys and girls have a good time." Cooper and Smith go on to say:

North Dakota's rural economy and homogeneous white population had shielded it from the turbulent and violent racial upheavals that struck many cities during the 1960s. The state's acknowledged conservative social and political nature had also exempted it from the sometimes violent war protests and college campus demonstrations. North Dakotans could look out at an apparently disorderly, riotous nation and take comfort that old values, including patriotism and respect for authority, still prevailed on the northern plains (Cooper, 1986).

 

The resignation of the NDSU Spectrum editor and the fiasco at Zap

In predominately rural and relatively isolated North Dakota, one might expect to find conservative values to be transcendent among its college students, and to find campus media reflecting such conservatism. Examining the campus press at the state's major universities, NDSU and UND, however, indicates that this was not the case in 1969. The selection of stories and commentary by UND and NDSU student editors suggests that they were generally sympathetic to the most radical political expressions of college students across the nation. If their own campuses were relatively peaceful, the student journalists didn't hesitate to try to provoke action and reaction from their more politically apathetic fellow students.

The first cryptic reference to the Zip to Zap appeared in the February 6, 1969, NDSU Spectrum, in the classified advertising section (The Spectrum, February 6, 1969). This began a series of such classifieds ads for the festival. For instance, the February 13 Spectrum contained a classified reading: "WE'LL find it in Zap" (The Spectrum, February 13, 1969); a March 20 classified read: "Drink the BARS (all two of them) dry in ZAP. May 10 (The Spectrum, March 20, 1969)," and a March 27 classified read: "Freak out 200 citizens of Zap on May 10 (The Spectrum, March 27, 1969). The April 3 issue had a classified reading: "GLORIOUS FESTIVAL OF LIFE AND LOVE (translation: BIG ORGY) WILL BE CELEBRATED MAY 10 in ZAP!" (The Spectrum, April, 1969).

This May 10 Spectrum issue was the same one in which Spectrum editor Carvell announced his resignation. Although the resignation was unexplained, the article did say he ran into strong criticism during the school year for printing two-page features on sexual morality and marijuana, and for printing "four-letter words" in its letters-to-the-editor section. Carvell is quoted in the April 3, 1969, Spectrum article as saying:

I'm not quitting under any pressure….this is entirely an individual decision and the criticisms of legislators, faculty members and the good people of Fargo had nothing to do with it (The Spectrum, April, 1969).

Carvell's last byline appears in a story in the same issue, headlined: "Radical SDS Organizes First Chapter in State." Carvell, who was also the founder of the NDSU Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter, reported the radical aims of SDS, and claimed that it was the first chapter to be organized in North Dakota. He reported that:

Within the ranks exist a variety of political positions: socialist, anarchist, communists and humanist liberals. Each local group is independent and responsible to no higher group. There is no hierarchy, SDS works under the assumption that everyone is a leader and that it is everyone's responsibility to perceive himself as leader (Spectrum, April 1969).

Carvell, who is currently an assistant to U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, was one of several North Dakota student editors in the late 1960s who resigned before their terms were up. He, like his fellow editors, went on to distinguished careers in journalism or related fields. For instance, at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, student editor Mike Jacobs resigned during the 1967-68 school year because of low grades. Jacobs is now editor of the Grand Forks Herald, which won a Pulitzer prize for its coverage of the Red River Flood of 1997. Jacobs was replaced as UND Dakota Student editor by Jim Conmy. The UND student yearbook for 1968 says about the Dakota Student under Jacobs and Conmy, "It tried to comment on the times. It consistently screamed Vietnam at the University, and was the principal organ for a statewide draft resistance movement. It often reported the news."

Ted Frederickson, who followed Conmy, was also forced to resign. Frederickson, now a professor at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication, says he also suffered from low grades, but added there was a lot of political pressure on himself and on the Dakota Student staff. At one point a bill was introduced into the North Dakota Senate by Senator Richard Forkner to have Frederickson removed as editor. Frederickson said he and other North Dakota student editors followed the dictum of Eugene Debs, "to respect tradition, but question authority."

One challenge to local authority Frederickson led was to criticize UND for taking an alumni donation from a known anti-Semite. Frederickson said North Dakota campuses were not viewed as radical from either an East or West Coast perspective, partly because of the stoic Scandinavian influence on North Dakota. "We were very anti-establishment and anti-Dick Nixon," Frederickson said of the student press.

Frederickson says that despite his resignation as editor, he was never depressed or discouraged about the pressures he experienced as a student editor. According to Frederickson, the times and the circumstances were "exhilarating." He returned to UND to complete law school before completing a master's in journalism at American University in Washington, D.C. (Frederickson, April 29, 1999). In an interview Frederickson said that the Zip to Zap was not politically motivated.

Chuck Haga, who assumed the Dakota Student editorship when Frederickson resigned, agrees with Frederickson, saying, "I think the only connection between Zap and feelings about the war and other national issues, is that Zap felt like an alternative, a release, a good time. But I doubt if many people put a great deal of thought into it one way or the other." Haga said it was the next year, 1970, when UND became actively politicized, partly because of the shooting of students by Ohio National Guardsmen at Kent State University (Haga, 1999). Protests against North Dakota's expanding nuclear weapons arsenal also increased in the years following Zap.

Haga said he agrees there was great pressure on student editors at the time, and says he was well aware of the problems Moorhead State College editor Clark was having with censorship. To express his solidarity, Haga invited the recently-fired Clark to come to UND to publish a special page for the MSC Mistic, to be inserted into the UND Dakota Student. Clark took him up on the offer, and Haga said he is still proud of defying authority with that publication decision.

Haga said, however, that as editor he was generally careful to negotiate and choose his battles, "rather than going down in blazing flames," over issues like printing profanities. He explained that he planned to make journalism a career, and that to diffuse confrontation he would often negotiate with university administrators who were under pressure from alumni and state legislators. Haga was a long time Grand Forks Herald reporter and editor, and is currently a senior reporter at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Haga, 1999). Haga's caution and diplomacy may have been a reaction to what was happening to his fellow editors at other student newspapers in the region.

 

Zip to Zap coverage in the NDSU
Spectrum after Carvell's resignation

The April 3, 1969, Spectrum moved beyond the cryptic classified ads to a page one story about the coming Zip to Zap festival that was picked up and broadcast by ABC and CBS radio networks. Immediately below this Spectrum story is a photo of Carvell with an accompanying article detailing his resignation as editor. The page one Zip to Zap story, headlined: "Zap Trip to Offer Dance, Bars [2], A Park And Zap Burgers," was written by Carvell, but was not bylined. It is accompanied by a large map of Zap, and begins:

Tis spring. Students across the nation begin to swarm to Fort Lauderdale, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, the Bahamas and to wherever they can expect to find a warm sun and beaches, members of the opposite sex, suds and momentary relief from studying. A nationwide movement with only one exception&emdash;North Dakota (Haga, 1999).

The story continues with a rather long and journalistically conventional explanation of the scenic beauty of the Knife River south of Zap. It provides further details about the town's two bars, including selections on the local juke boxes (emphasizing the polkas and the waltzes), and a brief discussion of the cuisine at the Zap Café. The last paragraph, however, digresses from convention, and states, after outlining the rock bands to play, that: "In addition to these events, a full program of orgies, brawls, freakouts and arrests is being planned. Do you dare miss it?"

This paragraph now appears prophetic, with the possible exception of the promised orgies, which would have been difficult given the bitter cold weather and the fact that most students ended up sleeping in cars, tents, or outdoors. Such sensationalist statements, along with those contained in the early classified ads, raise issues about student press responsibility on the part of the Spectrum. The April 3 Spectrum issue, however, marked the end of the Spectrum staff-generated classifieds containing such hedonistic overtones. Certainly escalating national coverage, such as that provided by the Associated Press, caused the staff some worry.

An April 17 Spectrum article, headlined, "Zap Picnic Makes National Splash," says: "Residents of Zap reportedly are concerned but not afraid of a possible influx of students. Mayor Norman Fuchs doesn't want word of the trip to leak out, lest rowdy students cause trouble in town." Zap City Attorney John Richardson is quoted in the next paragraph as saying, "I don't know what they (students) would do here. We have a couple of bars. I'm not sure whether there is a restaurant now" (Spectrum, April 17, 1969).

With the Spectrum staff beginning to think about potential problems at Zap, the exit of Carvell as editor must have been difficult for those under him. In that last issue of his tenure as editor, however, the Zip to Zap seemed to be the least of Carvell's concerns. His 30-inch swan song editorial, headlined: "A Final Comment," begins with a rather conventional lead: "Although it is not traditional for an editor to quit in the middle of his term, it is traditional for out-going editors to write a valedictory of sorts. So, along with my apologies for its rambling style, here its is" (Spectrum, April 3, 1969).

Carvell editorializes that the Spectrum under his leadership tried to illuminate some of the political and educational aspects of university life, rather than presenting a list of social notes, "emphasizing queens, sweethearts, presidential teas and dances." He goes on to say that many North Dakotans tend to have a narrow outlook on life, viewing the world from an "ivory silo." Carvell's final editorial continues:

We included a good deal of liberal to radical commentary and gave extensive coverage to activities of liberally oriented groups. This naturally irritated conservative segments of the community who demanded equal coverage. Unfortunately, the conservatives in this area rarely do anything more than mutter about the activities of liberals. What's to cover? Virtually all of the people who complained about the Spectrum's journalism were rabid conservatives (Spectrum, April 3, 1969).

Carvell also used the April 3 Spectrum to communicate his cynicism about his critics and the NDSU administration, as well as his feelings about resigning as editor. In the fine print below the list of the week's contributors to the paper, he writes about his departure, saying:

Everyone was really choked up when they found the Head Hippie was heading for the high country. Actually they were overjoyed to get rid of him. Shouts of "Good riddance!" and "About Time!" echoed through the cavernous Spectacle orifice (Spectrum, April 3, 1969).

On April 3, the Spectrum also announced that Jerome Clark had been removed as editor of the Moorhead State College Mistic, in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota. In the Spectrum article, headlined, "Mistic Editor Withdrawn," the paper's faculty advisor, Kathy Kraft, is quoted as saying that Clark was too revolutionary and too leftist. MSC President Roland Dille is reported as saying that Clark had, "shown less than good journalistic responsibility," and that libelous content in the Mistic throughout the year should have been questioned (The Spectrum, April 3, 1969). In the May 15 Spectrum, Dille says:

Because I do not now have confidence that future issues of the Mistic will serve the general welfare, I find myself with no alternative but to suspend the publication of the Mistic until such time as this confidence has been restored (Spectrum, May 15, 1969).

It is obvious from analyzing the issues of the Spectrum for that spring that college editors were influenced by the miles of national wire copy they were filtering and running, that reported campus clashes, student boycotts, race riots, and other confrontations across the nation. The Spectrum in that spring of 1969 was also full of foreboding reports of the war in Southeast Asia and the brutal civil war in Nigeria.

Racial tension was local as well as national. The April 24 Spectrum, under the headline, "Gunfire Precipitates Racial Crisis at MSC," reported that a black student at neighboring Moorhead State College was fired upon while in his car. Dille is quoted as saying: "There seems no doubt whatsoever that the intent was murder, nor is there any doubt that the motive was that the student was black" (The Spectrum, April 24, 1969). Indeed, there were intensive journalistic pressures on student journalists with regard to reporting and interpreting such events.

The Fargo-Moorhead Forum's February 28, 1999, installment of its "The 20th Century in Review" contains a retrospective article headlined, "A time of tumult, transformation: '60s generation lived amid pressure cooker of war, racial turmoil." The Forum quotes a gray-bearded Carvell, now three decades older, as saying: "All of these things on a national scale were sort of Chinese water torture…the cumulative effect of all of this slowly, very slowly, glacially slowly, changed people's views on a lot of things" (Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, February 28, 1999).

In a telephone interview with Carvell conducted April 26, 1999, Carvell discussed his own frame of mind and circumstances at the time he resigned from the Spectrum. Carvell reports that in the spring of 1969, he, like Dakota Student editor Ted Frederickson, did not feel dejected or depressed about his editorship or his resignation, but rather Carvell said he felt exhausted by all the conflicts he was having as student editor. He was also failing classes that term.

Carvell said he felt satisfaction at accomplishing some of his goals in regard to making the faculty and student body of NDSU more politically and socially aware of national and international issues and events. He explained that North Dakota was fundamentally Republican and conservative and that he wanted to end the control of the campus paper by those called the 'big men on campus," particularly the conservatives and the Greeks. He said he thought he had to "pound the student body with a baseball bat" to get them to wake up to what was going on in the world outside North Dakota.

Carvell said the attacks he made in the Spectrum on conservatives were not just abstract ideological ravings, but rather were a reaction to a formidable group on campus and in the community who he said tried to muzzle the newspaper. He gave the example of a campus group of supporters of presidential candidate George Wallace, who stole the entire press run of the Spectrum, and stamped it with "Support Wallace." Carvell lauds former NDSU faculty newspaper adviser Ray Burington for absorbing and deflecting much of the anger directed at the Spectrum staff by NDSU administrators and state government officials. He said some members of the state legislature were threatening to cut off funds to both NDSU and UND because of the perceived radical content of their campus newspapers. Carvell said he had to appear before the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to explain his actions and policies as student editor (Carvell, April 26, 1999).

Carvell dropped out of NDSU that April of 1969, and returned to work in his family's drugstore in Mott, N.D., taking time off to attend the Zip to Zap event that he had conceptualized and promoted. Carvell also spent nine years on the staff of the Forum. Looking back 30 years, Carvell is quoted in the Forum in 1999 as saying, "Anyone who stops to think about this can see it was destined to be one of the great fiascoes of all time" (Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, February 28, 1999). Carvell reiterated that he and other Spectrum staff members never conceived of the Zip to Zap as being anything but "an absolute lark," adding that many tried to interpret it otherwise. For instance, the Hallock, Minnesota, paper called it a "commie plot" (Carvell, April 26, 1969).

The Zip to Zap occurred a little more than a month after Carvell resigned as Spectrum editor. With Carvell gone, it appears the Spectrum exhibited more caution and perhaps more responsibility in regard to promoting the event. This change appears in the May 1 issue, nine days before the event. In that issue, the first of three classified ads about Zap asked:

GETTING ZAPPED IN ZAP? Think! Sleep it off in a bus&emdash;NOT AGAINST A BRIDGE ABUTMENT. Dry place to sleep in Zap included. $10. Phone 237-8906, or come to Student Gov't office (Spectrum, May 1, 1969).

The second classified ad in that issue similarly offered a bus ride to Zap and a safe place to sleep, warning of the high fines for reckless and drunk driving, and of the danger of auto accidents.

In an article headlined, "Zap Flash," in the April 10 Spectrum, readers were reminded that spring in North Dakota is "fraught with hazards." It is hard to determine, however, if the paper is effective in its warning because of the usual tongue-in-cheek tone that accompanied most accounts of the Zip to Zap. The article said:

Latest news from Zap is enough to strike terror into the hearts of even the staunchest lovers of North Dakota sunshine. Spring Creek, usually a placid, mild-mannered stream, three or four yards wide, has burgeoned into a rampaging flood tide 250 yards wide. Incorrectly labeled as the Knife River in last week's issue, Spring Creek was incorrectly corrected to Hay Creek, pronounced "Crick," on page four of this issue. Ignore that! The bridge across the creek is sagging from the flood, and residents in lower areas of Zap are presently using toilet and shower facilities at a nearby school. But fear not, nearby inhabitants of Golden Valley reportedly have dashed to the rescue and purchased 5000 pairs of hip-high rubber waders for all adventurous college students (Spectrum, April 10, 1969).

The April 21, 1969, Spectrum contained a story headlined, "Zap Model Forcibly Removed," saying that the first criticism of the upcoming Zip to Zap had arisen in the home economics department, where art instructor Renee Gall was ordered by a NDSU dean to remove a model of the town used to promote the Zip to Zap, because the evening adult education students had objected that the other displays in the room were focused on career opportunities. Mary Ann Jureack, identified as acting chairman of art, is quoted in the article as saying, perhaps prophetically, "Personally, I would not sanction the trip, as there is no sense in starting trouble where there is none" (Spectrum, April 21, 1969).

Coverage of Zap in the April 24 Spectrum maintained some frivolity about the event, but also hinted at impending problems. While Bob Olson's column suggested titles for a possible song about Zap, including "Moon Over Zap," and "By The Time I Get To Zap She'll Be Laughing" (Spectrum, April 24, 1969). A news story headlined, "Zap Story Goes National," announced that such papers as the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago American had run stories about the Zip to Zap (Spectrum, April 24, 1969).

The April 24 Spectrum also featured a 20-inch story headlined, "First Annual Zap Picnic is Go For May 10," reporting the contents of a cautiously hospitable letter from Zap Mayor Norman Fuchs. The article adds:

The letter from Fuchs followed early rumors that the people of Zap were arming themselves for the expected influx of area college students. It now appears that the early rumors were groundless. However, a small warning was included in the letter, "We're a peace-loving community," it read, "and suggest that we'll take strong measures to discourage riots" (Spectrum, April, 24, 1969).

Page one of the May 8 issue of the Spectrum, the last before the Zip to Zap, contained a mixture of optimism and trepidation in its speculation about the event, including a warning about the possibility of an unruly crowd of between 3,400 and 6,500. A 33-inch May 8 Spectrum story headlined, "National Exodus To Zap Under Way," opens with quotes from Mayor Fuchs from a telephone interview, saying how excited the town is about the Zip, and assuring readers that "Zapis" are prepared for the festival.

Fuchs is also quoted as pointing out the need for law enforcement officers, in order to avoid auto fatalities and to control "riff-raff," who might attempt to join in the festival. Fuchs denies in the article that he is considering calling in the North Dakota National Guard, saying, "We'll have the sheriff and deputies here, but they don't want to interfere with anyone's good time." The remainder of the article is a report by ex-editor Carvell from Zap on festival preparations, including details about food, music and transportation. It also contains reports of students departing for Zap from as far as Texas and Florida.

In the May 8 Spectrum story, Mayor Fuchs also announces a "chug-a-lug" contest between NDSU and UND students, with each side to get a 16 gallon keg of beer. The story ends with a quote from Fuchs saying, "If you are looking for a good time, you are certain to find it here. We have all the makings of the finest time ever for the kids" (The Spectrum, May 8, 1969).

A story in the May 8 Spectrum headlined, "Missive Warns--Beware the Sheriff of Zap," reports some of the "strange" letters about Zap arriving in the newspaper's mail, including one informing of a pending 1964 North Dakota Supreme Court case in which a Mercer County law officer is accused of attaching one hand of a murder suspect to a fence post, and the other to the winch of a wrecker truck, "in order to obtain a confession." The story then says that the suspect was reported to have been slapped and kicked numerous times by the sheriff and a deputy. The Spectrum also reported it had confirmed the details of the allegations in the case. The last paragraph of the story, and the last thing published in the Spectrum before the Zip to Zap, says, "Well, there it is. We imagine that the system of justice in the area has since changed. At least we hope so" (Spectrum, May 8, 1969).

 

National and local press commentary
in the aftermath of the Zip to Zap

The North Dakota state and campus press coverage immediately following the Zip to Zap seems to reflect frustration that it didn't turn out well. The tone of the commentary captures the general disappointment that it wasn't the traditional spring student ritual that North Dakotans had expected it to be. Newsweek and other national media predictably mocked the innocence and provincialism of North Dakotans, but accurately reported the state's disappointment in the festival. In a May 19, 1969 article headlined, "ZAP!" (Newsweek, May 19, 1969), the magazine gave the aftermath 7.5 inches of much exaggerated commentary, including an inaccurate report about the destruction of a Zap building, saying:

The youthful invaders virtually took over the town&emdash;and nearly demolished it. They dismantled an abandoned house and fed it piece by piece into a roaring bonfire in the middle of Main Street….The invaders had swelled to 3,000 when North Dakota's Gov. William Guy decided to send in the National Guard. Martial law was declared, and at day-break Saturday, 500 guardsmen wielding wooden clubs swiftly cleared Zap of the Zappies. But the damage had already been done. Surveying broken glass, charred furniture and thousands of empty beer cans strewn about Main Street, Sheriff Ivan Stiefeld of surrounding Mercer County sadly observed of Zap's biggest day: They wrecked the whole town."

The May 12 Bismarck Tribune in its page one story, "Zap Mayor Looks Back: 'It Could Have Been A Wonderful Thing'," reports that area officials and residents of Zap were assessing the lessons of the Zip to Zap, with Mayor Fuchs saying he hadn't decided on whether he should have called in more law enforcement before the event. Most of the 40-inch news story details the deployment of the National Guard and the perceived danger to the cities of Mandan and Bismarck, where students rallied after being driven out of Zap. No blame is placed on the student media, and the article says:

Fuchs said that students at North Dakota State University, where the idea for the Zap-in started, and at the University of North Dakota, have started fund drives to help the town and he understood the rest of the colleges in North Dakota would be asked to contribute. "It's just wonderful," he said in regard to the fund drive (Bismarck Tribune, May 12, 1969).

The state media tended to blame non-students, or what the mayor termed "riff-raff," for stirring up trouble at Zap. In a cut-line for a photo of two desultory-looking young men sitting on a car hood after being driven out of Zap, the Bismarck Tribune says, "Some were there for the fun in it, and flourished the V-sign for peace. Others like the dull-eyed punk at left with the whiskey bottle, were ready to start trouble&emdash;when they thought it was safe" (Bismarck Tribune, May 12, 1969). Cooper and Smith in their history of the North Dakota National Guard state that:

The newspapers, which had commented so breezily on the happening beforehand, now searched for causes for the turmoil. A Fargo Forum reporter explained it best: "The quickest answer is that these students were drunk out of their minds." Not a political protest, not an organized attack on the establishment, just kids from North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota, and Minot and Dickinson state colleges, he noted, jeering and swearing at police and Guardsmen for the hell of it. The spring party cost the state $25,768.58 and 970 Guardsmen a quiet weekend (Cooper & Smith, 1986, p. 434).

 

Student press commentary
on the aftermath of the Zip to Zap

The Spectrum expressed no sense of responsibility for the events at Zap in any of its commentary or reporting following the festival, and National Guard deployment. In a 55-inch May 15, 1969, page one story headlined, "Zap to Bismarck," staff writer Ron Wilner downplays the student violence and irresponsibility displayed at Zap, emphasizing how most students behaved in a restrained manner. He reports that there was a complete lack of proper enforcement by police, and says that law enforcement officers were largely inexperienced and from out of town. "The scene was set. People were looking for something to do," Wilner says, citing sources blaming police for over-reacting to minor incidents. He blames Zap residents for raising the cost of beer, for failing to provide adequate facilities, and for general poor planning (Spectrum, May 15, 1969).

A 27-inch letter to the editor on May 15, written by incoming NDSU student body president Butch Molm, headlined, "Who Must Take the Blame For Zap?" begins:

Zap, the Grand Festival of Love and Life, is over now. We have read the sensationalism; we have seen it over television. Who is to blame? Kevin Carvell, since he wrote the story? The Spectrum staff, since they thought up the picnic? The Associated Press and its nationwide coverage, the business establishments offering containers for all the necessities of life in Zap? The National Guard, for using their bayonets to move the students, the bar in Zap overcharging for beer, all the people who moved in to make a profit selling sweatshirts, zapburgers, buttons, and zip zap games? Now, SOME of these same people will turn and say, "Damn college students, must be some Communist agitators. Why, we didn't mean for this to happen. We thought the kids were just going out to have a good time, drink a little beer, maybe not to raise hell&emdash;and a good time could be had by all." This is what people said BEFORE Zap! (Spectrum, May 15, 1969).

The remaining 21 inches ramble on about harassment by the National Guard, damage to Zap businesses, and about lack of parental responsibility. It concludes vaguely: "I think it's time we do a little soul searching, be a little more aware of other people in this world, realizing they have problems, they have ideas, goals and ambitions."

The May 15, 1969, Spectrum editorial headlined "Zap is Over," includes an attack on the other media reporting on Zap. It begins by lamenting that things went badly and admitting that the idea for the festival started at the Spectrum, but it goes no further in assuming blame or responsibility. It says:

It started here, in the paper, but not as it was. We were there on Friday, some of the Spectrum staff which had first thought of the idea, and many others. They ask where we were when the trouble started, when the windows were kicked in, when the café was broken into. Many of us were in sleeping bags and tents in the park. The town was across the "crick," and it was cold. We didn't know (most of us) that the windows were being kicked in. Perhaps lack of knowledge is no excuse, perhaps there is no excuse for what happened, but there was no cry raised. The radio and newspapers blew it out of proportion. False rumors came in by the hour (Spectrum, May 15, 1969).

The second Spectrum editorial on May 15, headlined, "In Support of the Mistic," illustrates that the other campus paper in the area was still under assault from the Moorhead State College administration. The editorial invokes the First Amendment to decry MSC President Roland Dille's censorship of the Mistic. It ends by saying, "Our sympathies are with the former Mistic, now the Mystic. We hope it will continue its independent publication."

The Spectrum's May 22 editorial headlined "Yes, Virginia, There is a Zap&emdash;Still," further illustrates that the staff was not admitting, at least in print, irresponsibility for the way it conceptualized and promoted the event. Rather it blames what it calls the "commercial media" for blowing the Zip to Zap out of proportion. The editorial begins:

Now that The Zap Affair is over and things have settled down, several matters come to light which are worth mentioning. Let's not kid anyone&emdash;NDSU students were there and did take part in all phases of the event. The accusation that we deny all participation is really a bit more than unfounded. Lest anyone take umbrage (that means offense) at this accusation, there does exist enough evidence to show that commercial news media misreported the Zap affair. Certainly their accounts were exciting. Excitement does, after all, sell a great many papers. Certainly, they upheld their "responsibility' to report the bad as well as the good." However, a great deal of reporting was completely out of balance with reality and in many cases patently false (Spectrum, May 22, 1969).

The editorial challenges state and national media references to Zap being "demolished" and to their reports of a "battle" between students the National Guard. It goes on to suggest that the imagery presented was sensationalized, and that exaggeration was used primarily for commercial gain. The editorial is particularly critical of the Associated Press, saying:

Then there's always the good old Associated Press. Early reports of the AP (and certain radio reports as well) had students tearing down buildings for the fire, completely destroying an automobile with their fists and dismantling a fire truck. Then the facts show up. The building had been torn down three weeks ago, the automobile was apparently driven away intact (which is very difficult considering it was reported destroyed), and the dismantled fire truck is very much in one piece.

After further chastising the Associated Press for its inaccuracy in reporting the correct geographical locations of various North Dakota towns, the editorial goes on to criticize Zap coverage by network television, concluding with:

The lesson to be learned is that pictures--even moving pictures--do not always give a total picture of what is going on….Consider, however, that it is from the news media that we get all of our information on national and international affairs. They hold a major key to our understanding of issues. In many cases, the news media alone can influence the thoughts of an entire nation by presenting events in such a light as to elicit a certain reaction from the audience. When confronted with the miserable job of reporting a true and balanced picture of the weekend in Zap, what then are we to think when we are given stories having to do with taxes, Viet Nam, racial disturbances, school protests and the like? Perhaps the 'credibility gap' is not limited to governmental agencies alone. In these times, news is of vital importance to all of us. We have assumed that news presented to us has been truthful and balanced. Perhaps it is time we begin to question these assumptions (Spectrum, May 15, 1969).

The criticism of the Associated Press and of the other national and state media, with regard to reporting on the damage at Zap, appears well founded. This is particularly borne out in interviews with a wide range of student leaders and Zap residents conducted for Chris Breitling's excellent 1991 film documentary, Zap Revisited (Breitling, 1991).

The May 22, 1969, Spectrum contains a letter from Mayor Fuchs, headlined, "Zap Mayor Extends Thanks." In the letter he says damage to the town was not great and he thanks the students of NDSU and UND for sending relief funds. He details the damages to the two bars in town and announces that Lucky's Bar, which received the most damage, would re-open in about a week. Fuchs goes on to say:

To the college students who came to Zap to have a clean good time: My sincere apologies for feeling compelled to call the National Guard. I know you recognize that there was no other choice after what happened. Please understand that I have not lost faith in college people. The scum that got here on Friday stopped the picnic for those good students already here and for those on the way. I wanted so much for all to have a good time but it was not meant to be. If it were to be done over, the Guard would again be called, only earlier, I believe, just to prevent destruction (Breitling, 1991).

Although it appeared that peace had been made between the students and the citizens of Zap, it would be a long time before the town was willing to host Zap reunions. Relatively large and peaceful gatherings were held in Zap on the 1989 and 1999 anniversaries. Today conflicting opinions remain regarding responsibility for what went wrong with the festival. While some look back to the Zip to Zap with humor and sentimentality, others vividly remember the images of destruction and anarchy the media focused on. It is evident that once the media projects such negative and exaggerated images, those images can determine for decades the dominant public perception and popular historical interpretation of a mass event, despite the greatest efforts to revise and correct them.

 

Summary and conclusions

This article has outlined some of the major forces impacting American campuses in the spring of 1969. It suggests how youthful newspaper editors at several North Dakota and Minnesota universities interpreted and filtered information about national mass movements. It related how they encouraged their readers to collectively react to these mass movements, as well as to the social, historical, political, economic, and cultural forces driving them.

There was obviously a great deal of pressure on college students with regard to making personal decisions about such momentous issues as military conscription, continuation of the war in Southeast Asia, expansion of nuclear confrontation, gross economic inequality, and the delay in empowering American minorities. Student editors were certainly a catalyst in processing relevant information on such large issues. Their sources were often radically biased and ideologically off center. These alternative sources, when used by student editors to inform their opinion pages, effectively challenged young readers to respond to or react against what was derisively termed the "Establishment," embodying the status quo of the dominant national consensus.

The burden on these student newspaper editors in carrying out such heavy journalistic gatekeeping functions during the late 1960s and early 1970s is well illustrated in this article, particularly by the experiences of the editors of the NDSU Spectrum, the UND Dakota Student, and the MSC Mistic.

In the course of brokering these major national and international issues, the Zip to Zap was conceptualized and promoted by NDSU student journalists. This suggests that perhaps their efforts at a mature and seemingly unrelenting presentation of the tumultuous issues and events of 1968-69 demanded some relief, taking the form of a return to a more lighthearted and sophomoric type of student journalism that the Zap promotion certainly was. This flippant promotion and coverage of the Zip to Zap indicates a certain unwillingness by student journalists to assume the level of social responsibility and seriousness generally demanded within the mainstream journalism profession. In many ways it was an exercise in the license student journalists seem to cherish, to push the bounds of social convention and to question authority until authority re-establishes its dominance.

It is apparent that the North Dakota student media in 1969 were unwilling to take responsibility for the failure of the Zip to Zap. Those student journalists who promoted the festival tended to blame the mainstream media for blowing the failure of the festival out of proportion. Those interviewed for this study certainly objected to framing the story as if the Zip to Zap corresponded to larger student riots, or to confrontations with the National Guard and police on campuses where student gatherings were routinely violent, and where authorities were brutally repressive.

While most student protests and mass gatherings of 1969 reflected national political events and issues, the Zip to Zap remains unique to the era, in that if it was a form of political expression, it was not an overt one. Rather it seemed to be either a throwback to spring break behavior by earlier generations of hedonistic and politically apathetic students, or a precursor to campus normalcy in the form of unapologetic expressions of hedonism and uncivil student behavior most evident in south Florida, Mexico, and other student holiday destinations.

It appears that the Zip to Zap was an anomalous event in 1969, when mass protest and student dissention were at their height. Student editors today have relatively fewer gatekeeping burdens with regard to brokering information on national and international issues directly impacting college students. Certainly there is less of the kind of tensions that in 1969 brought on by racial confrontation and the Vietnam War.

Defenders of the North Dakota students who zipped to Zap in 1969 contend that damaging a couple of bars, breaking some windows, starting bonfires, and littering Zap's streets, hardly warranted the resulting media sensationalism and negative commentary, and that the event was in many ways without an identifiable historical or social context. To them, the Zip to Zap just happened.

But others who were at Zap say there were detectable social forces and tensions in 1969 that unified students in both violent and non-violent ways. The greatest evidence that there was a greater need in the late 1960s for the young to gather, and to express their opposition to such dominant social forces as war, racism, and mass violence, was the Woodstock Festival, occurring just four months after the Zip to Zap.

Beginning on August 14, 1969, an estimated 450,000 mostly young people gathered peacefully at a Woodstock, N.Y., farm, with no better accommodations than were provided at Zap, and with similarly poor weather. The answer as to why Woodstock succeed where the Zip to Zap failed, blows in the prairie winds.

 

References

The Bismarck Tribune. (May 12, 1969). pp. 1; 8.

Breitling, C. (Producer and Director). (1991). Zap Revisited [Documentary film]. Outcast Studios.

Carvell, K. (April 26, 1999). [Telephone interview]. Fargo, ND.

Cooper, J. M. & Smith, G. (1986). Citizens As Soldiers: A History of the North Dakota National Guard. North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies. Fargo: North Dakota State University, pp. 430-435.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. (February 28, 1999). p. E3.

Frederickson, T. (April 29,1999). [Telephone interview]. Lawrence, KS.

"Guy reviews Zap invasion" (May 3, 1969). The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, p. 1.

Haga, C. (April 29, 1999). [E-mail interview]. Minneapolis, MN.

Haga, C. (April 29, 1999). [Telephone interview]. Minneapolis, MN.

"Life with the Minutemen." (April 7, 1969). Newsweek, p. 76.

Marius, R. (1995). A Short Guide to Writing About History (second edition). New York: Harper Collins College Publications, pp. 57-60.

Newsweek. (May 19, 1969). p. 42.

The Report on the President's Commission on Campus Unrest. (1970). New York: Arno Press. p. 1-4.

Robinson, E. (1966). History of North Dakota. Fargo: North Dakota State University Institute for Regional Studies, p. 337; 583.

The Spectrum (North Dakota State University). February 6, 1969. p. 24; February 13, 1969, p. 20; March 20, 1969, p. 16; March 27, 1969. p. 16; April 3, 1969, p. 14; April 17, 1969, p. 6; April 3, 1969, p. 4; April 3, 1969, Staff Box, p. 4; April 3, 1969, p. 2; May 15, 1969, p 1; April 24, 1969, p. 1; May 1, 1969, p. 18; April 10, 1969, p. 1; April 21, 1969, p. 21; April 24, 1969, pp. 2; 20-21; May 8, 1969, pp. 1; 5; May 15, 1969, p. 1; 4; May 22, 1969, p. 4.

Stroup, C. (April 29, 1999). [Telephone interview]. Hazen, ND.

"The 20th Century in Review: Zap Overwhelmed as College Lark Turned to Chaos" (February 28, 1999).

"Where else should you test a Zip-Zap?" (April 29, 1969). Bismarck Tribune, p. 1.