State of the University


Emily Palombo

Written by Emily Palombo and Sara Crawford for Spring 2020 print issue of The Burr Magazine

SDS and BUS 

After 50 years, SDS made its comeback to Kent State and, similar to SDS in the late ‘60s, they went to the president’s office with four demands. The student activism that was lively in the late ‘60s leading up to May 4 continued this spring semester with protests against the war in Iran. Partnered with BUS, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace, Young Democratic Socialists of America, United Students Against Sweatshops and Threads, they marched into University President Todd Diacon’s office with their four demands in early February. These students reflect the history of Kent State, especially through their insistence on showing what they stand for and what they want from the university. 


In honor of the 50th anniversary of May 4, people strive to comprehend the events before and after the shooting. The university has honored the event and the four deceased students by erecting several memorials and markings throughout campus, including the posts where four students died, marble pillars outside of Taylor Hall and the May 4 museum. Students and visitors have placed stones on top of these memorials out of respect for the deceased, in observance of the Jewish tradition of placing stones on graves. This tradition exists for several reasons: some believe it is to keep one’s soul in the world longer by weighing it down. Others believe it is to strengthen the binds of the grave and keep ghouls and golems away from their loved ones. The last and possibly most powerful reason is that stones last longer than flowers and are placed on the graves to celebrate the life of the lost one and signify their lasting impact in the world. Three of the four victims — Allison Krause, Sandra Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller — were Jewish.


The national emergency prompted by the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. quickly affected the lives of all Americans, including Kent State students. On March 10, University President Todd Diacon announced that all face-to-face classes would be canceled and transferred to remote learning until April 13. Three days later, Diacon announced remote learning would continue until the end of the semester. Students struggled as they figured out plans for online classes, especially hands-on studio classes. Shelves were empty in stores as people filled their carts with as much toilet paper, water and non-perishables as they could. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued many precautions, such as not meeting with more than 100 people in one location. This caused issues for many, including Kent State Student Media, as production meetings for magazines, TV2 and The Kent Stater were not permitted. Despite the uncertainty and anxiety of the situation, The Burr staff continued to produce this magazine remotely.