Recorded May 2, 1990
Transcribed by Lisa Whalen and Kathleen S. Medicus
My name is Diane Konos Lassan, and I live in Kent. I'm thirty five years old. I was not here on May 4th, 1970, I was a high school student at the time at South High School in Youngstown. I'm here today because I'm employed at the library, in the cataloging department. I came to Kent, originally, in the fall of 1972 as an art student. I had a scholarship for two years. I struggled through my third year, and started a work study job at the library, and then was hired full time at the library in the fall of 1975. And I have been at the library since that time, in a variety of departments.
I do have strong feelings about what happened here, on May 4th, twenty years ago. I was shocked and saddened at the time, and I am still shocked and saddened. As much exposure as I've had to it, being on campus on a daily basis, it still affects me. In the past, I have, for the most part, stayed away from the commemorations and the programs. I'm not sure why, except that, there was a period in the late seventies where it began to get away from the true purpose, or what I felt to be the true purpose of, such programs. It seemed as if it was becoming more of a soapbox for various political factions to espouse their views. And while May 4th was a political issue, they didn't seem to be addressing the political issues that were directly -- that caused May 4th. They went off in all different directions. And so I really preferred to stay away from it. I didn't like to see it becoming a circus, and many times that the way it seemed. With this twentieth anniversary, I do want to participate in some of the activities. It's a landmark. I have expected the media hype, and perhaps am more prepared for that. I'm not sure why I felt moved to come here and make this tape, except that it does still have a strong emotional impact on me.
The first year that I was here, for May 4th, I was a freshman, and it was May of 1973. I did participate in the candlelight walk, and the vigil, and the program, such as it was. I -- I don't remember much beyond a one-hour program. What I won't forget is that the feeling, the mood that night, after I went on the candlelight walk. There was a group of us that returned to the Center for Peaceful Change, which was, at that time, in a very small building on front campus. I believe that was the Planning and Placement Center, perhaps it still is. We sat in there all night, we talked. Someone had a guitar, he played various songs and sang. At one point, he started to play the tune by Crosby, Stills and Nash, which mentions May 4th, and someone else put a stop to that, and said something to the effect of, "This is not the place for that." I really don't remember what we talked about that night, but I will never forget the feeling of closeness, between all of us who were there. I've long since forgotten many of the names of the people who were there with me, but I do remember the mood. And the times were just different then. That -- that one night, sort of embodies the times, for me.
We may have napped, I don't really remember napping. We watched the sun rise, and momentarily returned to our dorm rooms to freshen up a little bit. I had a 7:45 class, in Earth Science, which I went to. My scheduled time to stand vigil was not until mid-morning. So, after my class, I came over to the student center, and there was a nap room at that time, off the women's restroom. And I took a nap, and then went over to the Prentice parking lot, where I stood vigil for Sandra Scheuer. I particularly wanted to stand in the spot where she fell, because she was also a Youngstown native, and I felt a little bit closer to her for that reason. What struck me at the time, and still does occur to me, is that, I could have been at that demonstration. Or someone I knew could have been at that demonstration, and could have been one of the students killed or wounded. That's a very shocking realization. None of those students deserved the wounds- or certainly, to lose their lives, simply for being at that demonstration. That's a very hard fact to accept. It makes one aware of the mortality of -- of us all.
I don't really know what else to say, I -- what really moved me to come here, I suppose, was just that I wanted to participate, and I wanted to share my feelings from that night in 1973. I'm not sure why it still has such a hold on me. I suppose in a very personal sense, the fact that this is the twentieth anniversary of May 4th, makes me painfully aware of the passage of time. I have been aware of it, of course, but this kind of brings it home. As the new students come up and move into a certain position, and as May 4th becomes more of an historical event, which I believe it probably is for the newest students here, it pushes the previous history even further back into ancient history. When I hear someone speak of something that was thirty years ago, I still think somehow, that they should be talking about the year 1950, not 1960. I suppose every person who thinks about these things must at some point come to that realization. And I guess I have. The fact that I'm here on campus, in a very ordinary capacity everyday, dulls that for me, to a large extent, except for times like this. And that's sometimes not all that pleasant, or easy to accept. But, it's good to acknowledge those feelings, I believe.
I don't know if they will ever really, truly discover what happened here. I don't think so. I don't think the people that were there, that were involved directly, even know themselves. It was a terrible tragedy, and I admire those people who have been able to get on with their lives, under such trying circumstances. I don't really have anything more to say about May 4th, I guess I'll sign off now.
Return to 1990 Oral History Inventory