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The late sixties and early seventies were turbulent times.  While we can look back and see that it was a remarkable era, at the time we just knew that societal values were changing and it was wha college life was like for us.  I grew up in a sheltered environment, so seeing Dr. Timothy Leary advocating LSD as my first speaker at DU as a freshman in fall of 1967 was eyeopening but what I figured was what college must be all about.

Fast forward to the spring of 1970 - I was the president of Kappa Delta Sorority on S. Josephine.  We had heard about Kent State and could not believe that violence had resulted in the death of four students and that the world situation had spiraled into the deaths of so many innocent citizens and drafted American men.  Anger and youthful empowerment permeated our lives, including friends, classmates and sorority sisters.  I distinctly remember looking out my window to see the helicopters overhead and the lines of matching undercover cars surrounding the campus.  It was a governmental invasion in reaction to the intense emotions of the Woodstock West encampment.

The university had a different response - I was contacted along with many others to a campus leader meeting to be included in discussions that dealt with the situation at hand and focussed mostly on student safety and whether the academic year would continue.  It was lead by the Dean of Students and helped us focus on manageable next steps so we would not have the fatalities that had occurred at Kent State.  That is my greatest relief in looking back.  While Woodstock West was huge to us, it's eventual peaceful dissolution made us a national footnote because no one lost their lives.

Other footnotes came out of the story.  Kay Deffenbaugh, a Kappa Delta sister, met her eventual husband Frank Kane, at the Kappa Sigma house while helping with medical issues.  They lived in Denver for many years until he was killed by a hit and run driver while bicycling.  The last I heard, she lives in New England somewhere.

The Penrose LIbrary was eventually built on the site of Woodstock West.  For our generation, it is somewhat appropriate that it is the ugliest building on campus and remains so.  While probably not, to us it seems as if the placement was intentional.

And for me, I lost my political naivete.  It is easy to be insulted in a world of classes, hockey games, lounging iin the Humanities Gardens, skiing and parties while the rest of the world goes on.

Comments

Gail, You are the first
Fri, 07/08/2011 - 9:25pm - by Sheila Schroeder

Gail,

You are the first self-identified sorority woman to post a story for the site. Your perspective is enlightening. The leadership meeting is new information for us and adds another piece to the puzzle as to why DU did not turn into another Kent St.

While Penrose Library was rumored to have been placed on the site of Woodstock West to prevent another protest, we've not been able to find any credible evidence to support that. However, students who give campus tours today still spread this (false) rumor.

Thanks so much for your post. Please check back often for new stories!

Peace,

Sheila