Editorial: Ichabods have a rich history of organizing

{{tncms-inline content=”<p>Photos and captions included for this story come from Review staff photographer Leighton Mark from the original May 13, 1970 issue of the Washburn Review.</p>” id=”fd1297de-591f-4ab8-8faf-0e1a8dbdb776″ style-type=”highlights” title=”Editor’s Note” type=”relcontent”}}

This past weekend, in hundreds of locations across the United States and the around the world, students organized for a common cause: to push for reforms in gun control after the tragedy of the Parkland, Florida shooting. The state capitol in Topeka was one of these locations and, along with high school, middle school and elementary school children, students from Washburn were in attendance.

This isn’t the first time Ichabods have been involved in an organized effort after a shooting tragedy. We found an issue in the archives of the Washburn Review, dated May 13, 1970, the last issue of the school year, which tells a fascinating story of the Washburn community coming together.

That year, protests at colleges and universities around the country against an escalation of the Vietnam War led to a situation at Kent State which saw the shooting death of four students by members of the Ohio National Guard.

Two days after these deaths, students at Washburn seemed torn by the incident. In a seemingly impromptu demonstration, several students went to the campus flag poles. Some students demanded that the university fly the flags at half mast in memory of the fallen college students, others demanded that they remain flying at full mast. The president of the university at the time, John Henderson, refused to lower the flags, at which point the student government called an emergency meeting for that evening.

At this meeting, the Student Council suspended their rules and allowed the public to give comment and voice their concerns. After the discussion, including a vote to lower all the flags, a compromise was reached. They would lower the Washburn flag to half mast and leave the U.S. and Kansas flags at full mast. It was also decided that there would be a public memorial service for the four Kent State students on the Union Lawn Friday of that week.

At this memorial service, a procession of students led to the flag poles with a coffin draped in an American flag that would later be flown throughout the week. Sherman Parks, Student Council president and Steve Klein, a representative of the council, folded the flag and gave it to President Henderson, who announced that four trees would be planted on campus in the memory of the four students killed at Kent State.

This all happened because Washburn students decided to come together, despite differences of opinions, and organize for a common cause in honor of fellow students a few states away.

Today is not much different than it was nearly 50 years ago. We live in a society and a country that seems divided at times. Through this division, however, we can find common ground and come together for a greater cause.

There is something out there we can all agree on. Let’s look to previous generations of Ichabods as an example and find these common grounds, come together and organize to make the society we live in better for everyone.