Posted by: Chris Kretz | August 10, 2009

What Next: Kent State Shootings

Monday, May 4, 1969

Four students were killed and nine injured when National Guard troops fired into a crowd on the Kent State University campus in Ohio. The National Guard had been called in during the weekend to deal with large demonstrations and unrest.

Guerilla Theatre at Dowling

Guerilla Theatre at Dowling. Click for more images.

As we’ve learned through many of our interviews, Kent State was a tipping point after which nothing was the same.  There were major reactions across all college campuses, no less so than at Dowling.

New Voice, May 11, 1970

New Voice, May 11, 1970

As detailed in the New Voice, the week following the shootings revealed a variety of responses.

In a very moving emotional response Dowling students today reacted to the murder of four Kent State undergraduates by Ohio National Guards by a boycott of classes. Approximately 250 members of the college community gathered on the campus lawn to picket and listen to the spontaneous reflections of students, faculty, and administrators concerning the shootings and to speak more generally about government oppression on college campuses and in Southeast Asia.

In sympathy with the student protest President Allyn Robinson canceled classes and ordered the flag to be flown at half mast.

Tension ran high when demonstrators became aware of the presence of two unidentified gentlemen in white shirts and dark glasses who refused to explain their presence on campus but dissipated when the men, who were thought to be police officers withdrew.

At noon, Student President Larry Collins held a scheduled meeting of the Student Association to discuss possible action. A motion was introduced to extend the boycott to a general strike to last through the week and on into examination week. This motion was passed by a vote of 85 to 36 and will be presented to the faculty at tomorrow’s faculty meeting in the hope of gaining their support for this action.

This meeting broke up into groups early in the afternoon to continue discussions for planned activities during the strike action.

Early this morning students supporting the National Student Association Strike gathered in the Hunt Room to begin their drive to reach the community and students. Students were sent out to the local shopping centers and high schools to hand out literature urging them to come to the college tomorrow to attend the open discussion conference. Other students covered the rally held at Kennedy High School in Plainview where one of the four students killed at Kent University went to high school.

Students went to the different classes in session and talked to the people about the reasons why the strike was being held. They then left the classrooms and did not force anyone to cancel classes. Meanwhile, at 11:30 the Dowling Cinema Committee showed the film, “No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger” in the Hunt Room. Later Ned Bobkoff and some students staged a Guerilla Theatre. This was repeated at least three times during the day. They plan to repeat the performance at Smith Haven Mall tonight.

At a meeting so large, it had to be transferred from the Hunt Room to the Carriage House, the Dowling College faculty voted today to cancel all classes and final examinations with the understanding that no student would be penalized because of this action. They further voted to endorse the demands of the National Students Association New Conference and demanded the immediate resignation of President Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. This action was taken in response to the motion passed yesterday by the Student Association at Dowling urging such a cancellation in respnse to the murder of four Kent University undergraduates, and  in support of the N.S.A. demands. The vote of the faculty was 23 to 17. The faculty also voted unanimously to commit themselves to be on campus in spite of this cancellation to talk with students and to hold discussions of the pressing issues facing the academic community and the nation as a whole as a result of the actions of the Nixon administration at home and Southeast Asia. They also hope to utilize this time to meet with all their students to discuss final grades.

The sense of the meeting seemed to be that the faculty and students wanted to take advantage of the last two weeks of the semester to try to apply the Liberal Arts to prevent crisis facing our nation in a form radically different from that of the traditional classroom.

President Allyn Robinson also announced at the meeting that Dowling College would conduct an all day radio and telephone poll on May 9 over WBAB and asked for volunteers from the students, faculty and administration to man this effort.

Plans are also being formalized for a series of films and discussions on the present political situation to take place through the day today. A number of speakers from the Dowling Community and from outside the campus have been scheduled to speak. Students from many Long Island high schools have been invited to Dowling to take part.

The campus was virtually overrun by students from many High Schools who came to the campus to find out what they could do in the cause of peace. Movies provided by the cinema committee and Mr. Budner were offered to those attending.

Most of the students went to the Carriage House for an afternoon of music and speeches by interested members of the Dowling Community. The afternoon seemed to be high-lighted when it was pointed out that two plain-clothes policemen were sitting in the audience. The police were offered the chance to speak thier minds but declined to do so. Afterwards in informal discussions the two men indicated that they would be pleased to try and find other cops interested in speaking some time next week.

“Dowling Reacts to Nation’s Violence”
The New Voice
May 11, 1970


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