Leftist Activism in the Face of a Conservative Catholic Administration

The Students for a Democratic Society Chapter at Boston College


  • Brendan Mahoney Boston College


SDS, Leftism, Boston College


Abstract:  The Students for a Democratic Society Chapter (SDS) at Boston College, officially active from the year 1967 into the early 1970s, was an SDS chapter unlike all others.  While most of the infamous SDS chapters of the time existed at liberal, public schools, the SDS chapter at Boston College was different.  The Boston College SDS chapter had the unique challenge of having to organize in act while the looming pressure of a conservative, Catholic administration watching.  This pressure led to multiple ideological changes, spanning from leanings towards revolutionary Marxist politics to softer reformist ideas.  This paper documents these changes and catalogs exactly when and why these changes occurred, and the ripple effects that they caused across the campus of Boston College.  This paper also maps the ways in which these ideological changes led to the Boston College SDS’s intersectional interactions with other leftist groups such as workers unions and the Black Panther Party.