May 4, 1970: Inquire, Learn, Reflect

From the moment you step on the Kent State University campus, you hear the date: 'May 4, 1970.'  You may wonder why this date is so significant, especially a date that happened nearly 50 years ago.  What happened?  Why is this such a part of the Kent State culture?   Why do students still need to learn about it after all these years?  Why is it still important?

As a freshman in college at Kent State University, you're here to learn and discover.  As part of your First Year Experience course, you can start with May 4, 1970 to learn more about the history and culture of the university you attend.  You can gain insight into a different time on your campus--one that seems so long ago and about people you don't know.  But you might come to find through this WebQuest assignment that you have more in common with the people, time and place than you think.

Inquire, Learn, Reflect.




Students will be required to learn more about what happened on May 4, 1970, in general, by utilizing the various information sources about the event online. What happened?  What led up to the events?  What happened to the people involved?  What is the long-lasting impact of those events. Specifically, students will be required to choose one person who was directly involved in the event, whether a student, a National Guardsman, a political figure, a professor, someone on campus, etc. and follow the events of that person from the beginning of the event until the end.  Personalizing the event may help students to step into the shoes of another and better connect to what can be learned from what happened that day.  Websites online can be utilized to learn more about the events of May 4, 1970 as well as the people involved.  YouTube videos and other video/audio resources online can be used as well. 

  1. Students should start at the Kent State University website at to gather initial information about the events of May 4, 1970
  2. Continuing to view the Kent State website in gathering information, students can view the May 4 Visitors Center web page:
  3. A guided tour of the May 4 Visitors Center, including a visit to the May 4 Memorial should be considered to gain a better understanding of the events.
  4. A short list of the people involved in the events of May 4, 1970 can be found here:
  5. View videos of eyewitness accounts of the events of May 4, 1970 and think about which person's life you'd like to research more closely.
  6. Gather additional information about the people involved in May 4, 1970 to solidify the person you'd like to follow.  The Kent State University Library's Special Collections offers an oral history project that might help students decide:
  7. Once a person is chosen to follow, write a 1-2 page double-spaced 12 point, Arial font paper identifying the following information:  person's name, role at Kent State, age, background, why they were part of the events of May 4, 1970 and what happened to the person during the events and how it affected him/her and/or their families.
  8. Be sure to also include a short paragraph on your personal opinion of the events of May 4 , 1970 and how it affected you to learn more about what happened.
  9. Some additional videos on YouTube that might be informative:


The reflection paper is worth 50 points and is factored into your overall grade for the First Year Experience course.  Points will be given based on the following factors:

  • All criteria (required information about person, paper length, font and spacing) are presented as outlined for assignment (20 points)
  • Grammatically correct with correct punctuation (5 points)
  • Creativity presented in paper, including photos, links to videos/websites to fully illustrate knowledge about the person's life (20 points)
  • Insight and knowledge gained as expressed in last paragraph (personal opinion on events) (5 points)

May 4, 1970 is a part of Kent State University's collective historical culture.  As a Kent State students, it's important to understand the events that occurred that day, not only as a learning and growth opportunity, but also to connect oneself to the people involved in that tragic day.  Through seeing what happened with our own eyes, hearing the reactions from those present via audio and reading witness accounts and news stories from that day can we fully engage ourselves in understanding what happened--and how it affects the campus culture today.