It’s not just a day to skip class

DKS Editors

Anyone who has spent some time at Kent State knows some students don’t take May 4 seriously.

In the past, we’ve seen students have a barbecue or play Frisbee behind the stage set up on the Commons where the annual commemoration takes place.

Some students like to drunkenly yell at the hundreds of people who peacefully march during the candlelight vigil on the eve of the anniversary of the killings.

This is disrespectful, and we’re ashamed that those students are part of the Kent State community.

The university cancels classes between noon and 2 p.m. so you have an opportunity to observe the commemoration. During these two hours, all we ask is that you reflect on the tragic events that occurred on this campus almost 40 years ago. After all, Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder weren’t that much different from you.

They, too, were Kent State students who walked these very same grounds. Chances are they attended block parties on the weekend or complained about parking or the food on campus.

And who is to say these events won’t happen again?

The purpose of remembering May 4 is to ensure they don’t. Inquiring, learning and reflecting on those tragic events are the only way we can guarantee bullets don’t pierce the flesh of innocent students once again.

If you feel the commemoration on the Commons is too politically charged and are looking for something with a bit more of a scholarly edge, be sure to attend one of the Symposium on Democracy events.

The symposium was established in 2000 in memory of the slain students “with an enduring dedication to scholarship that seeks to prevent violence and to promote democratic values and civil discourse.”

You don’t have to agree with every word spoken at each event related to the May 4 commemoration. We only ask that you listen. After all, that’s what our democracy is all about.

Peacefully advancing the marketplace of ideas is what May 4 should represent to our campus, to our nation and to the world.

Remembering what happened on May 4, 1970, will enable us to think critically about the world in which we live and the university where we strive to learn.

And if you can’t attend any of the events because of work, school or other obligations, just take 10 minutes out of your week to sit near the memorial and remember the victims. Then think to yourself: “If I were a student in 1970, could that have been me?”

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.