Your campus in 1970

Justin Stine

In 1970, the Kent State campus was geographically diverse and much different than it is today.

For example, the current Student Center was not yet built. The university’s former student center was Oscar Ritchie Hall. Next to Oscar Ritchie Hall was the ROTC building, which was burned down on May 2. This location was the center of campus at the time.

The locations of the former student center and the ROTC building are important because as you know today, the current Student Center is probably the most visited building on campus. Most students visit the Student Center once a day, or at least walk past it every day.

The ROTC building was a target on campus because of the obvious military and political affiliation the building had with the Vietnam War. The building had already been condemned and was going to be torn down. While the actions of the students were not entirely justified, readers can gain perspective with this information.

Think of it in terms of today, before the demolition and reconstruction of Johnson and Stopher halls. The two old buildings stood vacant where the current construction is taking place today behind Taylor Hall.

The burning of the ROTC building back in May 1970 would be comparable to students setting fire to either Johnson or Stopher hall before construction crews began their work last year. The burning may have been more significant if the students who burned the building had burned down a newer, nicer building on campus on May 2.

Just across the large grassy area behind Taylor Hall, is the Commons where the Victory Bell is located. The bell is where the students gathered on Friday, May 1, as well as on Monday, May 4. This is also the spot where student protesters buried a copy of the United States Constitution after President Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia on April 30.

Up the hill towards Taylor Hall is what’s known as Blanket Hill. The Gym Annex was not built at the time of the shootings. Covering the area where the Gym Annex is now was a fenced-in area where the football team practiced.

At noon on May 4, students began to assemble in the Commons. The Ohio National Guard attempted to disband the students; the crowd of students and guardsmen marched up toward Taylor Hall, down Blanket Hill and on to the practice football field.

At 12:24 p.m., the National Guard kneeled, aimed their weapons and fired approximately 67 shots within 13 seconds.

The Prentice Hall parking lot is the location where the four slain students fell. It was not until 1999 that the light posts were placed in the locations where the students fell.

Even though the face of our campus has undergone some changes since 1970, the way we remember the dead, the wounded, the witnesses and the families does not need to.

Come remember these events at May 4 Task Force meetings at 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].