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May 4 Task Force looking for expansion

Group looks to move historic memorabilia across campus

Jason Hall

Posted: 11/16/06

Memorabilia from the events of May 4 have been on display in the May 4 Resource Room in the Library since the spring of 1973. Now, more than 30 years later, members of the May 4 Task Force are asking to move it all.

John Behnken, president of the task force, said the organization wants the resource room to be closer to the memorial, which sits outside Taylor Hall.

"With the location of Rooms 101 and 102 of Taylor Hall in relation to the memorial, it would only make sense for us to occupy that space," Behnken said.

He said some task force members have had memorabilia tucked away in their basements for about 20 years because they have no where else to put it, and the resource room is too small to house it all.

Each year, task force members paint a banner for the May 4 remembrance ceremony. Behnken said they do it in each other's houses because they have no place to do it on campus. He said moving the task force to Taylor Hall would eliminate those issues and allow the resource room to be more complete.

"As you can see, we have a major need for more space," he said.

Tom Euclide, director of the Office of the University Architect, said as of right now, the space on the first floor of Taylor Hall has been set aside for architecture students.

"Decisions were made over a year ago that architecture would take over the space vacated by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication when they move into Franklin Hall," he said.

Behnken said he has heard the same thing and is not happy about it.

"The university says the space is already set to be given to the architecture department, but we began talks with the university two years ago when the space was open and had not yet been allotted to anyone," he said.

However, Euclide said the task force is not being ignored. There have been separate talks with the Provost's office and the architecture department to see if Taylor Hall could still become home to a new May 4 resource room.

"They are talking about redoing the architecture library on the third floor," he said. "Space could potentially be worked out in there."

Behnken said the amount of space that will be allotted to house memorabilia is still vague.

Even though it will be closer to the memorial than the library is, Behnken said visitors won't want to track it down. If everything is stored in the old Daily Kent Stater office, all guests will have to do is walk through the doors.

William Gordon, author of Four Dead in Ohio, said this isn't a new proposal.

"They suggested it in '73 and ended up with the resource room," he said. "They'd be better off just adding to it. I would trust the task force or the university to do a good job of handling something like this."

Gordon said the university tends to downplay May 4, and because of this, the task force is naive to think they will get anything new out of the administration.

Although it doesn't look like the architecture department is going to give up Rooms 101 and 102, Behnken said the task force members will keep trying until they are satisfied with the result.

Contact general assignment reporter Elise Franco at efranco@kent.edu.
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