‘Every day I see where it happened, and I was six feet from Allison when she was hit.’

Melissa Dilley

Danny Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Listen to McVay speak about May 4th

English lecturer Chris McVay can relive the scenes from May 4, 1970, every day from her office in Oscar Ritchie Hall, which is at the bottom of the hill where she was tear-gassed and shot at by the National Guard.

As she looks out the window of her office and tells the story of that day, she sheds a few tears that only someone looking closely would notice.

But McVay hasn’t always been emotional about May 4.

After witnessing the shootings standing beside the late Allison Krause, McVay, a freshman at the time, fled to Europe to escape America’s hostile atmosphere.

“I said, ‘Fuck this place, I want out of here,’ with the intention of never coming back,” she said.

But after spending only a year in the Mediterranean, McVay returned to Kent State to finish her degree where she had left off.

While McVay had returned to finish her degree, she said she always had plans to move back to Europe. She didn’t attend a May 4 memorial commemoration until 1988, when her 16-year-old son Jake was required to attend for a class at Kent Roosevelt High School.

McVay said she didn’t pay attention to the speaker standing near the bell in the Commons and instead looked on as her son and his friends attempted to flirt with the female students at the commemoration.

Seeing this made her shed her first tear for May 4, almost 20 years later.

“I thought to myself, ‘It’s a shame Allison can’t be here to see her son flirt with college girls,'” she said. “I had never cried about the whole thing until then, and I cried so bad that day I had to get up and leave. I couldn’t even stay.”

McVay, who teaches English classes for the honors and Pan-African Studies departments, said she hasn’t been to a May 4 commemoration since.

A few times, she said, she wandered by, but “it almost seemed pathetic.”

Although McVay doesn’t devote much time or energy actively participating in remembering May 4, she said she doesn’t want people to get the wrong impression of how she was affected and changed.

“Every day I see where it happened, and I was six feet from Allison when she was hit,” she said. “I am very aware of how random it was. If the guardsman firing would have moved his gun an inch, it would’ve been me, not her, and she might be sitting here telling you what she remembers.”

Contact student politics reporter Melissa Dilley at [email protected].