Alumna recalls tension at KSU

Megan Dunick

Alumna remembers May 4

Nora Jacobs was one month away from finishing her first year of college at Kent State when the May 4 shootings occurred.

Nora Jacobs was one month away from finishing her first year of college at Kent State when the May 4 shootings occurred.

“It was such a turbulent time, and it was so emotional. That’s not even a good way to phrase it,” said Jacobs, a 1973 English literature graduate. “If you weren’t there, it was almost indescribable, and that’s the best way to put it.”

Jacobs recalls sitting in Metcalf Hall having lunch with friends at the time of the shootings. Even though she was not an active rioter, Jacobs was used to many escalating protests.

“You know, my whole college experience up to that day had been protests,” said Jacobs, a Sagamore Hills, Ohio, native. “There was a constant beat of protests against the war, so it was business as usual to me.”

Students attending college in 1970 were constantly aware of government issues. Being exposed to many tragedies in history such as the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, these young adults wanted one thing.

“Back then, there was a feeling of young people not being heard, being misunderstood and having such strong feelings about things with the feeling of having no voice in the country,” Jacobs said. “You thought you were protected and had rights of free speech, and you didn’t. It was such a wake up call for so many people.”

With technology being nothing like it is today, Jacobs did not get in contact with her family until she showed up at the front door of her childhood home on the evening of May 4. Even though the university closed down the campus for the rest of the quarter, Jacobs did not have any second thoughts as to coming back the following year.

“I wanted to get back. I wanted to get back to my friends, my classes and my norm. I wanted to be back in Kent,” Jacobs said. “You felt very isolated because you just got kicked out.”

Even though some of Jacobs’s friends did not return for the following school year, she said she would not have wanted to go anywhere other than Kent State.

Jacob’s plans on returning to Kent State for the 40th anniversary commemoration ceremony of May 4 tomorrow.

Alumni are welcome to gather at the Williamson Alumni Center, where the alumni association will be hosting an informal reunion from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

“We are excited to be hosting an open house for any Kent State alumni,” said Nancy Schiappa, associate director of Alumni Relations. “It’s a great opportunity for alumni to gather here before everyone begins to go over to the actual site for the beginning of the remembrance at noon.”

Jacobs said she hopes people will come back and remember May 4.

“In American history, it was such an enormous event,” Jacobs said. “May 4th has a place of special significance, and I hope people don’t forget about it.”

Contact alumni and graduate affairs reporter Megan Dunick at mdu[email protected].