Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
The Drug Bust, 1970
On March 28, 1970, at 1:30 in the morning, eighty-five state and local police officers raided seventeen university premises and four off campus locations in a large scale drug bust. Sixteen people were arrested, including twelve students, and in the following two weeks, police arrested eight more students in connection with the raid.
Three weeks prior to the raid, police arrested a non-Tufts student found operating an LSD lab in the basement of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. Police suspected that the man was operating in collusion with Tufts students, but did not have any concrete proof. For the next couple of weeks, however, police began working in close cooperation with university officials to uncover serious drug use on campus. University officials provided Medford police with information that they had gathered internally, specifically about rumors of heroin use on campus. The week before the bust, a Tufts student also went to the Medford police to inform them of heroin use at Tufts.
On the morning of March 28, police armed with search warrants and using master keys provided by the administration, raided the campus. Rooms in Carmichael, Miller, Hill, and Wren were searched, along with numerous campus houses. Police discovered a large quantity of narcotics and paraphernalia, including marijuana, LSD, and hashish. As news of the bust spread across campus, over three hundred students congregated on the residential quad, blocking police vehicles and throwing stones. Several police cars were damaged before the was dispersed.
At 2:15 the same morning, 250 students gathered in the Carmichael lounge to discuss the raid and gather any relevant information. They gathered money to post bail for the arrested students, and planned a major rally for the next afternoon. At 9:00, the sixteen who had been arrested were arraigned before Middlesex Country Superior Court on charges ranging from presence to intent to distribute, and a trial date was set for April 14.
At 1:00 in the afternoon on March 29, 800 students gathered for a rally on the residential quad. After much discussion, the students made six demands to the administration. Among other demands they asked that the university pay all the legal costs of those arrested, that no university discipline be taken against those arrested or implicated, and that no information about Tufts students, either personal or political, be given to outside persons or agencies without the permission of the student. Many students felt that the raid was aimed directly at dissidents and black radicals, who were being targeted by police across the country. The university's part in the raid infuriated students, and they demanded open access to all of the university's student files. Although Dean Schmidt assured students that no information about personal or political beliefs was on file, and that the raid would have happened without university involvement, students remained angry.
In the week following the bust, students continued to protest, while police arrested eight more students who hadn't been home at the time of the original raid. By the end of the trial, the courts found five students innocent, while eighteen others were given probation terms ranging from six months to two years. One case was dropped due to inadmissible evidence. After the initial furor died down, the Tufts and the CSL quietly terminated all action against those involved in the bust. The raid, however, remains the largest one time police raid on the Tufts campus, and was one of the closing events to a turbulent year at Tufts University.