Time and Again –
Seeking, Streaking, and the End of the "Death Zone"
A caricature of the popular president appeared in the 1970 Kronicle.
The 1970s ushered in dramatic changes at Keene State. With the administration of President Leo Redfern and the questioning culture of the time, student needs and desires were in the spotlight. Redfern was an outgoing, friendly man with a casual manner and style. He often wore the red suspenders the executive committee of the College Senate had given him. He valued intellectual exploration and the democratic approach and was eager to try new things and test new ideas.
Redfern's democratic ideals made him popular with students. When students complained about their dormitories, he supported the Owl's Nest concept of suite-style living. Some classrooms were also made more comfortable and appealing, with couches, easy chairs, tiers of carpeted benches, and scattered pillows.
Before there was Craigslist or MyKSC, there were bulletin boards. That's not to say the students of the seventies didn't have access to technology; it just looked a little…different.
redfern arts center on brickyard pond
Mike Keller, Sam Azzaro, Miriam Goder, Leo Redfern, Henry Freedman, Doug Nelson, Bill Pardus, and William Wybrew drove a ceremonial stake to mark the corner of the Liberal Arts Center Building, now the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond, as construction began in 1979.
An evening-gowned Miss Keene was crowned by her predecessor (left) in 1970. In 1971, Kristi Carlson, a Keene State student (and Miss Keene) went on to represent New Hampshire in the Miss America pageant, and later toured with the Miss America USO tour. Of course, most student fashions were considerably more casual.
Freedom and responsibility
Students had already been granted "parietals" – privilege to visit other students' rooms, including those of the opposite sex, in 1969. In 1971 the Senate (a third of which were student members) went even further and abolished most of the old regulations, including dress code, curfew, required sign-in and sign-out from dorms, and other changes. Streaking (a warm-weather sport) became popular for a short time in the spring of 1974.
Although troublemakers were a small minority, a growing drug culture on campus that paralleled widespread changes in American society brought with it an increase in thefts and vandalism. The college senate Student Affairs Committee took a hard line against pot and hard drugs. Programs were established to assist those who needed help. As the need for rules, regulations, and guidance became more apparent, the college began taking the necessary steps.
Hard at work, 1973
Theatre for the Deaf, 1979
Redfern also supported curricular change, and he was willing to allow experimentation and innovation – such as the short-lived Alternative Education (A-1) program, for example. A-1 was designed to appeal to "creative" students, allowing them to structure their own learning and living environment. Closely modeled on experimental programs at Hampshire College and elsewhere, A-1's purposeful lack of structure held the seeds of its own failure, and it was abandoned after a two-year trial.
In 1971 the General Education requirement was instituted, giving students considerable latitude in choosing courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences during their first two years. The 4-1-4 school calendar was another experiment. With this schedule, the first semester ended before Christmas, with the second semester beginning in early February. In between was a month-long January winter term. Although the faculty liked the calendar, parents, for a variety of reasons, did not, and it was abandoned.
Black Friday and Unionization
In 1977 the faculty, unhappy about the way some administrative decisions were made, voted 62 to 60 to unionize. Since the vote was so close, a petition for a new election was made and passed. In the meantime something happened that strengthened the unionization movement. On February 24, 1978 – a date referred to as "Black Friday" – the board of trustees abolished department chairs and restructured the college into three divisions headed by Deans. This surprise move, viewed by the faculty as punitive in nature, led to a decisive pro-union vote on January 25, 1979.
Appian Way was still open to cars, and as more vehicles came to campus, it became increasingly dangerous. Students began to call it the "Death Zone," and continued to petition that it be closed to vehicles. In 1982, they succeeded.
Remember the curb?
In 1974 the College bought Elliot Hall and adjacent Joslin House from the community hospital, which relocated to upper Court Street. The entrance hall of Elliot retains its grand staircase and murals painted by Barry Faulkner depicting local 19th-century history.
chidren's literature festival
The Keene State College Children's Literature Festival began on a snowy April Fool's Day in 1978.
the glory years
The 1970s was a winning decade for KSC athletic teams. The men's basketball, cross country, soccer, and swimming teams represented the college, the state, and the New England area at 19 national championship events. During this time the soccer team went to the national playoffs seven times and came in second nationally three times. Title IX boosted women's sports, and the basketball and softball programs had regional success.
The 1970s brought many big-name performers to campus, among them Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Jefferson Airplane, and comedian David Brenner. Raitt appeared again, campaigning for John Edwards, in 2008.
Moving in, 1972
Hanging out, 1974
A big fan, 1973
Social Activities Council
Staying afloat, 1973
earth day begins
Interest in all things "natural" meant seeking a healthy living environment. Recycling on Campus at Keene State (ROCKS) was formed to encourage recycling. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. The college senate banned smoking in classrooms and other communal areas. Off campus, students hung out at the Square Meal Restaurant on St. James Street or Foodstuffs on Court Street.