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Flash Communications students at University Communications and Marketing interview Allison Wenger with NBC4 in Columbus when she visits the May 4 Memorial on the Kent Campus at Kent State University.

Matthew Whiteside is a junior broadcast journalism major taking the “May 4th, 1970 and Its Aftermath” course at Kent State University. 

When I signed up for the course May 4, 1970 and Its Aftermath I figured we would take some looks into what took place.  Little did I know that by the time I leave I could pass myself off as a private investigator.

From what I heard about the course, it basically concentrated on a big project due at the end of the semester and not much before then.  Now, usually when students sign up for these types of classes they don’t put much effort into the work and expect to get an easy “A.”

Now, I must admit I usually fall into that mold as well, but after seeing all of the cover-ups and drama, one could make a case that there are almost as many holes in the story as the Kennedy assassination (I know — bold statement).

This week, the class focused on two readings that further convoluted the mystery behind what actually caused the Ohio National Guard to open fire on that fateful Monday morning.  The readings: The Kent State Coverup and the Justice Department summary of the FBI report looked at different quotes from various guards and tried to analyze what actually happened.

There were two parts to the class.  During the first half, we looked at the FBI report. Each student was assigned three questions from the report.  The questions were then discussed with the class.  Some main points discussed were: the number of students on the commons, whether or not the guard ran out of tear gas, the protestors’ demands, the role of the Students for a Democratic Society and whether or not the guards’ lives were in danger.

Jeffery Miller, Kent State student

Jeffrey Miller was killed on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University.

During the second half of class we were split up into groups of three and picked interesting points from the Kent State Coverup.  During these sessions, it was discovered that a gun was planted on a student, Jeffrey Miller.  During the court hearings some questions were not allowed to be asked.  The most interesting thing though is the FBI determined that the guards were not in danger of losing their lives. 

This week taught me that no matter how many readings and different sources we investigate to find the real truth about what caused May 4.  The unfortunate reality is with all of the different players and outside influences, we may never get the answers we deserve.

Matthew Whiteside is a junior broadcast journalism major taking the “May 4th, 1970 and Its Aftermath” course at Kent State University.  The post is a reflection on his class with guest speaker Peter Jedrick, a Cleveland journalist and the author of the novel titled Hippies.

This Tuesday I got to do something that I have waited weeks to do, for the class May 4, 1970 and Its Aftermath — talk to Peter Jedick.

The week leading up to this I was referring to it as “Redemption Day,” because during the fourth week of the semester the class was scheduled to talk with Jedick about his required reading Hippies.  A snow day prevented this interview and this was the first class in forever I was upset to see canceled.  The fact that he came back for a second time gave me “redemption” in getting to talk with the author that I was deprived of speaking with due to that snow day.

At a first glance I was skeptical, because I am not a big book reader.  When I saw that the book was more than 300 pages I went in with a biased attitude of not wanting to read it.  Boy was I ever wrong.  I later confronted Jedick after class and told him my initial disdain for reading the book, but then gave him credit because he actually sucked me into the story.  This was the first time since high school I can remember that I actually enjoyed the required reading and didn’t want to put the book down.

The book was about the hippie culture during 1970 and the effects it had on the college scene in general.  It was intriguing to learn the book was about 50-50 fiction and nonfiction.  Mostly all of the stories in the book occurred, but he just used different names for the characters and embellished some of the stories to make it a bit more interesting.

Besides a book discussion Jedick talked about what the four main characters are doing now.  He also gave a preview as to what life will be like after graduation.  It was nice too because he didn’t sugar coat it, which made him seem honest and genuine about it — like he was trying to help us.

The chat wrapped up with a Q&A where he discussed things from his hitchhiking adventures, to his relationship with his parents.

Considering the class has much time to fill, we also continued on the theme known as the search for understanding in which an investigative approach is taken to examining exactly what happened on the fateful day of May 4, 1970.

The class split into three groups and looked at the questions related to two readings: Kent State, What Happened and Why and President’s Commission on Campus Unrest.  Jedick, being a journalist, made a joke about some of the suspect reporting in the first read which was funny.

The enlightening thing about the search for understanding is that we are able to look at multiple reports. We, as a class, can judge not only the differences in factual statements, but make decisions as to what could’ve/should’ve happened.

As the class let out I got to talk to Jedick about being a prospective journalist myself and the challenges I face.  He left me with a great piece of encouragement, “No matter what as long as you continue to work hard at it and gain experience, you’ll be fine.” This definitely gave “Redemption Day” a fitting conclusion for me.

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