Iranian Students on Campus, 1979

J. D. Hayworth recalls the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran and the measures taken to ensure the safety of Iranian students attending NC State.

Interview on 2015-07-11


00:00:00.000 With the American hostages taken at the US embassy in Tehran, we had a significant population of Iranian students here on the NC State campus
00:00:13.947 and they did not all speak with one voice. You had a group of students pro-Shah, a group of students pro-Khomeini, and there was a concern that there might be some sort of violence between those groups.
00:00:32.754 But, moreover, the big concern was what would happen if there was a mission to rescue the hostages
00:00:46.082 and if something had gone wrong, or for whatever reason in the news just frustration, what about our Iranian students becoming targets?
00:00:58.318 So we sat down with Student Life and with some folks who knew Persian/Iranian culture and, quite frankly, with some missionaries who had been in that part of the world,
00:01:12.900 and we actually tried to develop contingency plans to keep the Iranian students safe if something had happened,
00:01:25.508 and of course you did have the failed rescue attempt, Desert One, which led to development of our Special Forces.
00:01:32.799 Fortunately nothing came of that, but I remember getting involved in planning and thinking at the time, "Wait, I'm just a student body president. This is almost like a foreign policy, national security issue."
00:01:47.891 There was one day where the frustration led to a huge march by our students - hundreds, I would imagine, not thousands -
00:01:56.993 and then there was a sentiment afoot that this should be a daily or weekly occurrence, but there was concern about campus life.
00:02:09.903 So the suggestion was made, "Well, why don't you march down Hillsborough Street to the parking lot at Carter-Finley Stadium and we'll convene down there."
00:02:20.537 So there were a couple of rallies down there, but I think the sheer distance of the walk took some of the passion out of that.
00:02:28.965 But it was a very interesting time to be involved in student government.