May 4 and the Wagon Wheel, all in one week

Ben Wolford

I didn’t write my column last week. Like other students, I have essays to write and Dr. Zavota demands a very well-constructed argument in her Ancient Greek History class.

I think I bombed it anyway.

It was a bad week to take off, though, because a lot has been happening around here, and now I don’t know if I can keep up.

I was going to write last week about a professor who has decided to spend his or her career here at Kent State, but no one ever came forward, and, of course, I was too lazy to find one. If this goes on too much longer, I’ll track someone down.

But this week, a couple really good Kent State culture stories came up: the Wagon Wheel victory over the Zips on Saturday and the release of new evidence on the May 4 shooting.

If you saw yesterday’s Stater, you noticed the solution to my dilemma about which story to run on the front page.

(I ran them both as front, one on the front and one on the back, under the Daily Kent Stater flag. If you thought it was stupid, you weren’t alone; some of the people on my staff thought it was confusing and dumb. I’m still in love with it.)

But the two stories set up an interesting dichotomy.

On the one hand, you’ve got a major win for Kent State. It was Homecoming. Tons of alumni were here — that is, donors were here. And we got the Wagon Wheel back after four years without it.

That story and an epic photograph of the football team celebrating flew up on the Kent State homepage.

On the other, you’ve got possibly the biggest May 4 story since May 5, 1970. There’s actually new evidence!

The event that has in many ways defined Kent State in the eyes of the world (European friends of mine know about May 4) has suddenly come back alive. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland has opened a congressional inquiry and interest was instantly revived.

Interestingly, this story, one of the biggest to come out of Kent State in a while, did not make the homepage at the university’s website. One of our reporters is going to call University Communications and Marketing today asking them to comment on the implications for Kent State’s image.

Without having their insights, I won’t say a lot about this, but it is a difficult situation for the university. They’ve tried hard and, frankly, done very well at trying to rebrand Kent State as a quality institution.

Now the shoot-‘em-up image is back in national headlines.

It’s a mistake to bury our past: May 4 is part of our collective history. And, honestly, it’s a point of pride for me to know that my university is a place where, at one point, people felt strongly enough about something to stand and protest.

Contact Ben Wolford at [email protected].