Kent State has canceled plans on its campus to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Guard shootings that took the lives of four students on May 4, 1970. The University said it has made the decision "in the interest of the health and safety of the community," and also to comply with an order by state officials to stay home. The order takes effect Monday, March 23 at 11:59 p.m. and is aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that is sweeping through the country. The order extends through at least April 6.
Kent State University President Todd Diacon says the university's first priority is to maintain everyone's health, safety, and well-being. "This action comes as a great disappointment to so many who have looked forward to this milestone weekend and who have worked tirelessly to make this event happen," Diacon said.
Planning for this year's commemoration marked a turning point itself. For the first time, Kent State administrators, students and faculty, along with May 4 survivors and family members, worked together on events to mark the occasion. Diacon said that has created a firm foundation for future commemorations and ongoing educational efforts.
The university is working to create a meaningful virtual commemoration and will announce details as plans are finalized. The university statement indicates, "This online program will honor and remember Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder who were killed and nine other Kent State students who were wounded on May 4, 1970, when the Ohio National Guard fired on students during an anti-war protest."
May 4 events were to include Jane Fonda, historian Eric Foner as well as a Benefit Concert featuring Joe Walsh and David Crosby. The university has processed refunds for the concert and the luncheon featuring Foner.
The university is asking visitors to reschedule any plans to visit the May 4 National Historic Landmark site until after the national public health emergency has passed and the university has resumed on-campus operations.