WEB EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: Prentice parking lot markers a long time coming

Justin Stine

Most Kent State students have seen the four sets of six lighted markers in the Prentice Hall parking lot on campus. What most current students don’t know is it took the university more than 28 years to agree to close off the spots where the four students were shot and killed on May 4, 1970.

Ever since 1975, the May 4 Task Force and its supporters have been trying to convince the university to block-off these spaces in the parking lot. Since the four spots are part of the May 4 memorial, they should be treated as such.

On the evening of May 3, a candlelight vigil and march take place on campus. Kent State President Carol Cartwright participates in the march each year. At the completion of the march that occurred in 1998, four supporters, each carrying a candle for one of the slain students, approached President Cartwright and strongly voiced their opinions about why the four spaces in the Prentice Hall parking lot should be closed. They presented her with personal letters from the parents of each of the four slain students requesting the spots be closed as well. She did not accept the letters and requested this conversation take place at a different time.

The very next day, on May 4, 1998, about 200 students and supporters marched to President Cartwright’s office and again voiced their requests for the four spots be permanently closed. They again presented her with the letters from the parents and this time, she accepted them.

After lengthy conversations and several negotiations, President Cartwright agreed to consider the demands of the students, parents and supporters. She said she would make a final decision by July 1 of that year.

The decision actually came a few days before the July 1 deadline and concluded that the university would permanently close the four spaces.

The next struggle involved finding the exact spots where the students fell. After much debate, exacts spots for Allison Krause, Sandy Scheuer and William Schroeder were eventually chosen. A controversy still existed involving the spot of Jeffery Miller. The actual spot where he fell could not be closed off due to fire lane restrictions, according to Kent State officials and the Kent Fire Department, so his spot is moved slightly to the side.

The construction of the permanent markers began shortly after the commemoration in 1999, and the dedication ceremony was held on Sept. 8, 1999.

Ever since the shootings occurred, the university has tried to hide the tragedy and keep it out of the public eye as much as possible. In 1975, the university said that what happened on May 4 should be forgotten. It also decided to stop funding and holding annual May 4 commemorations, which actually led to the formation of the May 4 Task Force to continue future commemorations and provide an opportunity to inquire, learn and reflect about May 4.

Feel free to attend the May 4 Task Force meetings that are held 7:30 p.m. every Thursday in the May 4 Resource Room on the first floor of the library.

Justin Stine is an electronic media productions major, the treasurer of the May 4 Task Force and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].