Sandy Lee Scheuer, William Schroeder, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, Allison Krause -- as the names and a brief description of each of the four students who were shot to death by National Guardsmen at Ohio's Kent State University were read by Steve Honberger, four students from Baruch, each representing one of the dead from Kent, moved to the front of the stage, The candles that they were carrying illuminated their faces, giving them an almost ghostly appearance. The candles that were held by those sitting in the auditorium also produced a haunting, sombre effect.
The students and faculty members, who gathered to mourn the deaths of the four Kent students, listened solemnly as Tom Swift read from a "revolutionary document", the Declaration of Independence. He then read parts of the United States Constitution, emphasizing those parts which dealt with one[']s freedom of speech and right to d[is]sent. Swift then introduced Rabbi Daniel Walk.
Rabbi Walk's speech dealt with death. He said that death has no boundaries, and spoke of "killing occurring without reason". He said that the "escalation of war leads to the escalation of devastation," and that we should "use our resources to construct a world of love -- not fear". He warned that our current path was leading towards death, not away from it.
Several members of the faculty spoke at the memorial service. Prof. Michael Black, of the English Department, read from three different sources, and noted that Vietnam has come home via the Kent campus. David Cole, also of the English Dept., asked for justice and stated that "the children of the world have been killing the children of the world." Prof. Philip Halboth passed this thoughts to the congregation, saying that "killing to prevent hatred is like reading books to prevent understanding." Tom Frazier, of the History Department, spoke next. He explained that history was repeating itself, that nothing new as going on. Frazier asked, "Don't you see what's happening?" Prof. Briloff, who was scheduled to give an accounting lecture at that time, noted that "today we are all students at the feet of history." He talked of the obsession of Nixon and wondered, "where do we go from here?" Briloff explained that it would have been much easier to conduct a lecture because there at least he can pretend to know the answer, while here he doesn't know the questions, let alone the answers.
The podium was also honored by two deans. Dean Lavender spoke of human vices -- fear, hatred, and despair. Dean Dispenzari pointed out that no one can be completely right, for at the end of the words and bombs and bullets are people.
Besides the speakers from the faculty and administration, several students also spoke. Bernard Smith read a prayer that he wrote. The prayer is as follows:
A PRAYER FOR PEACE
Yesterday, O Lord 4 students were murdered by Nixonian Politics.
Today, I say that these four have not died in vain.
We shall continue to strive for an end to political war which takes lives of thousands of Americans.
We will give our lives, in one way or another, in the hope of finding the peace that these 4 students found in the hereafter, in death.
The memorial service continued with a silent march. Unlike the picket lines of the previous days, there were no signs or smiling faces. There was only the expression of pain and sorrow.
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[Background note: For several weeks prior to the shootings at Kent State, Baruch had been racked by a student boycott of classes. One of the chief reasons for this boycott was a move by the Board of Higher Education (BHE--the governing board of CUNY at the time) to increase student fees. Other issues included greater support for remediation programs, greater diversity in the teaching faculty and greater involvement by students in the organization of college life (i.e. "college governance"). Many of these issues were supported by the faculty and administration of the college. A committee of 26 students and faculty was set up to look at ways of meeting student demands.]
[....] The week [5/4] began with a convocation called by [Baruch College] President Weaver at the request of students leaders, who raised (but never really put) the question of suspending their boycott pending the report of the 26. The record crowd which jammed the auditorium was in no temper to let up the pressure, however, and the boycott was loudly reaffirmed instead. Attendance in the College remained at about fifty per cent. Picketing continued.
Tuesday [5/5], the entire tone changed. The news from Kent State brought out a second line of 200 to march silently bearing placards of mourning and anger. Later in the morning most moved off to rallies at Union and Washington squares protesting both the Ohio massacre and the Indochina escalation. Later some joined a march of students from further downtown led and flanked by mounted (horse and scooter) police, to the United Nations. The CUNY administrative council resolved to support rallies and classroom discussions of the dual tragedies (but no closings) Thursday and Friday, and nineteen, including President Weaver, telegraphed to President Nixon their dismay at Southeast Asian events, shock and sorrow at the Kent State slaughter, and the "insensitive speeches" of Vice President Agnew.
Wednesday [5/6] Baruch's Student Action Coalition declared a "moratorium" on their boycott and demands, held instead a moving and eloquent auditorium memorial service for the Kent State for which drew an even larger crowd than Monday's meeting. The audience filled every seat and lined the walls, aisles, and balcony in the glow of burning candles while students and faculty members read prose and poetry, or simply spoke their minds, for a quiet hour and a half. Then a silent picket line resumed for an hour.
The balance of the week, except for the Faculty meeting on Friday, fell victim to a series of garbles. First, the media took Tuesday's CUNY resolution to mean classes would be cancelled Thursday and Friday [5/7 and 5/8]. As university information officers began to catch up with the mistake, the Board of Education announced city elementary and high schools would be closed and misunderstandings multiplied when media simply said "city schools." Although Baruch remained officially open with classes meeting, attendance plummeted and, because of the confusing reports, Dr. Weaver ordered that no attendance be taken either day. Student observance took the form of four keeping vigil with candles, seated against the north wall of the Main Lobby corridor. [....]
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