Position Paper of the May 4 Coalition
POSITION PAPER MAY 4Th COALITION, JUNE
the pagoda several turned simultaneously and fired at the students.
The war had come home.
In the following weeks student strikes had shut down 760 uni-
versities across the U.S. This resulted in the withdrawal of U.S.
troops from Cambodia within 60 days.
The Kent State Murders of May 4,1970were not merely a tragic
incident frozen in the past. That this is not only an episode
in the history of KSU, but a continuing symbol all over Am-
erica and the world, is indicated by the letters of solidarity
which come in every year. It was a major turning point of the
struggle against the war in Vietnam. It is an outrageous
abridgement of the right to free and public expression. The con-
tinuing cover-up and denials by the KSU administration state and
federal governments smolders like Watergate and the Korean brib-
ary scandals, destroying the facade of "public trust".
Kent State University is obligated to preserve Blanket Hill
and the playing field as they were in 1970.
For the past seven years the KSU administration has worked
hard to distort the facts, confuse the issues and bury the his-
tory of May 4, 1970. The natural extension of this policy is to
literally bury the site of the shootings under a sprawling build-
ing. But Kent State is obligated to preserve this site, as Bos-
ton must preserve the site of the Boston Massacre.
It has been said that the gym would not cover the places where
students fell. In fact the place where Jim Russel was wounded
would be either inside or just outside the wall. The places
where Dean Kahler was wounded and Jeffrey Miller was killed
would be well within the construction fence and would be great-
ly altered by the construction of a service road and landscaping.
Moreover the sprawling structure would extend far into Blanket
Hill and far into the playing field, covering the path of the
guards' march and obstructing the paths of the bullets. Blue-
prints indicate that landscaping would drastically change the contours
of the entire area.
| The destruction of this area would be a
confirmation of the
bloody suppression of free expression on May 4, 1970. The pres-
ervation of this site is essential to carry the lessons of
'Kent State' to future generations.
IT IS THE THREAT TO DESECRATE THIS SACRED GROUND WHICH UNITES
THE MAY 4 COALITION AGAINST ANY PLAN TO BUILD ANYTHING ON THE
SITE. OTHER ARGUMENTS HAVE ALSO BEEN RAISED BOTH BY PROPONANTS
AND OPPONANTS OF THE GYM SITE. MUCH OF THIS DISCUSSION IS AN
EFFORT TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM THE PLANNED DESTRUCTION OF OUR
PEOPLES HISTORY. EVEN IF ALL OF THESE COULD BE ANSWERED TO THE
BENEFIT OF THE PRO-GYM-SITE FORCES , WE WOULD STAND FIRM.
a) Destruction of legal evidence.
The civil suit brought by the nine wounded and the parents
of the dead against Govornor Rhodes, Guard officers and enlist-
ed men and former KSU President White is presently under appeal
in the Sixth District Court of Appeals. Because of numerous er-
rors in the origional trial, there is a strong chance that the
plaintiffs will win a new trial. If so, a jury view of the site
will almost certainly be necessary. There are so many photographs
taken from various perspectives or distorted by telephoto lens,
that interpretation is impossible without a view of the site.
Judge Young ordered a jury view in the first trial, and any
Judge is likely to do the same.
As indicated above, the planned construction would irreparably
alter the area of the shootings.
KSU President Olds has indicated that the plaintiffs' at-
torneys were consulted about the gym plans. Now that the facts
are clear, a plea for an injunction against the building has
b) Environmental concerns
The gym would cut into Freedom Hill (formally refered to
as Blanket Hill) and into the wooded slope on the other side
of the playing field. A professional landscaper has determined
that 37 trees, many over 100 years old, are scheduled for re-
moval, (He appraised these trees at $105,650). Building the gym
here would needlessly destroy one of the most beautiful sites
c) Economic concerns
The planned buildinG is too large for the campus. When it
was first planned in 1995 projected KSU enrollment was 30,000
and physical education was required for all students. Such ex-
cessive projections led to excessive dormitory construction and
an oversized library, now plans for a sprawling gym. The $6 mil-
lion construction cost would pay for the new nursing building,
art and business administration buildings combined.
Moreover, according to Director of Facilities, Planning and
Operations, Ted Curtis, projected yearly operating costs of the
gym are over a quarter million dollars more than the operating
costs of the facilities it is to replace.
Yet state funding for operating budgets has been decreasing..
We have had repeated budget cutbacks and faculty dismissals and
now there is talk of a $15-25 tuition increase. Clearly this
concerns all of Kent State University, yet plans were made quietly.
Although there werethree students on the committee which dis-
cussed internal priorities of the building and site in 1973,
They were Allied Health Science, Physical Education and Rec-
|d) Decision process
The planned location became publically known only grad-
ually and in spite of KSU officials. Writers for last summer's
KSU weekly reader had to sneak a picture of the model of the
structure. After the same photo was published in the Daily
Kent Stater in the fall of 1976, students packed the November
meeting of the Board of Trustees demanding that several ques-
tions before plans proceed. None of these questions were
adequately addressed. Nevertheless the trustees Unanimously
approved the building progress report to be sent to the state
On May 12, 1977, 500 People again packed the trustees meet-
ing, with several hundred more outside. One coalition represent-
ative was allowed to speak about the gym, as were two students
in favor of construction. Then the major contract bids were
Now all 'proper' chanels had been exhausted. We began that day to
occupy the land with tents and bodies, to physically enforce
the right of our peopleto our history. We remain on Freedom
Hill(formerly Blanket Hill) and we are determined to stay un-
til the gym site is changed.
Only late in Mayl977 did blueprints become available,
which confirmed the worst estimates of the damage planned.
(Working blueprints are still nearly inaccessible.)
It is not too late for the site to be changed. Although
present bids must be finalized by June 30, State Represent-
ative John Begala has said that if the trustees decide
by then to change the site, the state appropriation could
be extended. Certainly there will be significant costs in
preparing plans for a new site, but these are tiny compared
to the damage to our history and to the people's trust in
the U.S. system of justice.
e) Architectural concerns
Architecture students have pointed out that the building
would unnecessarily disturb the topography, destroy important
spatial characteristics of the site in relation to other
buildings, and create pedestrian circulation problems.
The blueprints show much wasted internal space. An extremely
strong retaining wall would be necessary to withstand the
pressures of Taylor Hill where the building cuts into it,
and drainage problems are a hazard
AGAIN WHILE ALL THESE CONCERNS ABOUT THE PROPOSED BUILDING
ARE SIGNIFICANT, THE PRIMARY ISSUE IS THE HONEST SURVIVAL
OF HISTORY. Our other demands are part of this concern:
1. JUSTICE FOR THE MURDERS.
The university never even bothered to send letters of
condolence to the families of those slain on May 4, 1970,
although it has gone to a lot of trouble since then to cover
up the facts of the 'incident'. While the supporters of the
students and their parents have fought for every crumb, the
State of Ohio provides millions of dollars for the legal
defense of Governor Rhodes, former KSU President White, Guard
officers and enlisted men. Kent State University claims to
|be impartial, but seven of the trustees owe their
to Governor Rhodes. And Trustee Robert Blakemore is the at-
torney for former KSU President White.
2. NO 'BUSINESS AS USUAL' ON MAY 4.
It was not just the death of four students on May 4, 1970:
Our sisters and brothers were slaughtered by state guns. This
touches the history af all America, of the Vietnamese and
Cambodian people, of people throughout the world. May 4
is not only a time for private mourning, but for a public
commemoration and affirmation that the lessons continue-
that people must continue to protect free public expression
and the right to control our lives, and guard against arbitrary
and excessive military force.
Students have taken this proposal through 'proper channels'
for years, to no avail. On May 12 the Board of Trustees again
bureaucratically shuffled it to another committee, but we will
On May 30 we suspend business to commemorate the deaths
of American soldiers in war. Will we have 'business as
usual' on the anniversary of the shooting of our own students?
3. NAME THE BUILDINGS.
The May 4 Task Force proposed in May 1976 to name four
previously unnamed campus buildings after Sandy, Jeff,
Allison, and Bill. After a year during which the proposal
was ignored by the 'proper committee', a people's ceremony
on May 2,1977 publicly named the Sandra Scheuer Memorial
Music and Speech Center, Jeffrey Miller Memorial Library,
Allison Krause Hall (art), and the William Schroeder Hall
On May 12 the trustees again avoided decision by referring
this to a new committee (including two students to represent
18,000 undergraduates and three administrators representing
100 colleagues). On June 2 the committee defeated the propo-
sal. (Incidentally, in spite of a faculty senate poll in
favor of the proposal, two faculty representatives voted
It is appropriate to have such a permanent living commem-
oration of these four. The contribution which Allison, Jeff,
Sandy and Bill made by their deaths to Kent State and world
history is greater than any other person whose name graces
a building on this campus.
In Cuba they name schools after these four. Surely we
can do so, too.
KSU Vice President Biles has proposed a commemorative
chapel near Prentice Hall parking lot. The Coalition opposes
this. It is obviously offered at this late time to divert
attention from our proposals. A chapel would serve to pre-
serve the memory of May 4, 1970 in the only way the admini-
stration would accept: a tragic incident frozen in the past,
to be mourned in solitude behind stained glass windows.
The adminstration refuses to acknowledge 'May 4' as part of
the living history of Kent State and the world.
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