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[Beginning of Tape 1]
[Joseph LaCamera]: I’m Joe LaCamera, the university’s Director of Residence Halls. I will be leaving Kent State University as of today to go to the University of Colorado.
[Unknown Speaker]: You mean you’re leaving permanently?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Yes, yes. Today’s my last day and I’ll be working on my dissertation. So my time is going to be somewhat limited. I hope that what I can do for you would be helpful.
[Unknown Speaker]: Now, would you bear in mind that my [unintelligible] you’ve added to the activities as--
[Joseph LaCamera]: --events took place. Now, I might say that--
[Unknown Speaker]: We need to get the background too.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Okay, I might say that--
[Unknown Speaker]: Excuse me, just a moment. And at the same time, your statement will be used by people who are interested in the administration, the faculty, the community.
[Unknown Speaker]: Yeah, everything.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Very good. Well, realizing that the residence halls are kind of a microcosm of everything that goes on on campus, I’ll try to give as close a description of what I think–what I perceive would be the setting of essentially the beginning of the episode of May 1 started–May 1 was Friday. I was called out in the middle of the night, approximately 2 a.m. of Saturday and was informed about the downtown episode.
[Unknown Speaker]: You were called by who?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Dr. Ambler. I was informed about the downtown episode and current events concerning that. That went into the night somewhat, with a series of events that wound up with students being tear-gassed near the campus. I think you probably have all that information.
[Unknown Speaker]: Don’t assume we have any.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Okay, that–can I turn this off?
[recording resumes after a short break]
[Joseph LaCamera]: The sequence then went into a series of briefing sessions on what had happened Friday night–what the potential expectations would be for problems we were–I’ll be honest with you, probably taken by surprise. That would be my feeling, my interpretation, that this had not been anticipated. We certainly did not anticipate it–the Friday night episode.
[Unknown Speaker]: Can I ask you a question?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Sure.
[Unknown Speaker]: Would I–would it be correct to say that your focus at that time was more on BUS [Black United Students] than on other groups?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Well, I would say that there was certainly a concern for the problems related to BUS, and the demands that BUS had identified. The rallies that week were somewhat pressurized.
[Unknown Speaker]: What I’m saying is, would it be correct to say that, if you are busy with BUS, then obviously you have less time to devote to other groups?
[Joseph LaCamera]: I don’t–I didn’t see it that way because of the involvement in the halls–
[Unknown Speaker]: I see.
[Joseph LaCamera]: BUS would be one segment of it. We’re used to dealing with many different variables. I would say that the Friday night episode was a trigger that we anticipated would lead to other things–other things, we did not know. There were lots of rumors flying around of other things coming. We had a hard time sifting those out. We spent a lot of time throughout the weekend trying to dispel rumors or find out what the source of the rumor was, whether it was accurate or not accurate.
[Unknown Speaker]: Was there any relation between the Friday [student?] rally, what happened Friday night? You say you were taken by surprise by the episode of Friday night. You had no report of the rally, or news, that lead you to think–
[Joseph LaCamera]: I did not know about a rally Friday night. I attended the rally Friday afternoon. The one on Thursday also. There were two rallies.
[Unknown Speaker]: Wasn’t there one Friday noon and Friday afternoon. Friday noon was anti-war and Friday afternoon was BUS?
[Joseph LaCamera]: That’s right. That’s right. I attended both of those.
[Unknown Speaker]: And you detected nothing in the atmosphere of the crowd that could lead you–
[Joseph LaCamera]: No, I would say that the atmosphere of the crowd was very [unintelligible]. In terms of the dialogue towards the decision of the president to invade Cambodia, there were statements made about the ROTC Building and why it was still standing Friday, that I heard.
[Unknown Speaker]: You heard that?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Absolutely. So, I think that that should be put into context. Friday night’s episode, however, I did not tie the two together. And generally, well, it’s been our experience in the past not to have something start downtown or off the campus, so that was a differential. It was not anticipated.
[Unknown Speaker]: Could you identify anybody in the Friday groups that would be significant as non-students or–I assume that you’re quite familiar with the students.
[Joseph LaCamera]: I’m familiar with the students–with many students. Most of the people that talked Friday were, I believe, students. I couldn’t tell you that definitely, but I’ve seen them on campus for quite some time.
Well, the–as the weekend progressed, I guess on Saturday–the things that were done Saturday were primarily to communicate with my staff in the residence halls to bring them up to date in terms of certain issues, such as the curfew. We were under a curfew, we knew, and we had to explain this to our students and how this would affect the campus setting. So, we went into a series of meetings with the residence hall staff in the morning, and then the Student Government leaders of the residences, they’re called the Hall Presidents, along with the KIC Executive Committee were in pretty close contact with me directly on Saturday afternoon, and I briefed them on what we knew to be the facts, or what seemed to be the facts about the Friday night episode. And the feeling was that it would be very advantageous to have as many activities on Saturday night so that people would be away from any dangerous situations that might occur. We didn’t know if they would, but in anticipation, we had a lot of bands going and movies set up. The presidents of the halls were very actively involved in trying to develop appropriate programs so that students would stay near their residence halls.
[Unknown Speaker]: How many hours did you have to prepare for Saturday night’s activities?
[Joseph LaCamera]: We had Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, so about 12 hours. It did not boil down to 12 hours–it was probably about four or five hours.
At the same time that was going on, there were rumors coming in–rumors about a rally that night, there were rumors about the ROTC Building could be set on fire. We were given the information about an hour or so before the actual setting fire was [built?]–that it was to be burned. We had a lot of rumors coming in that there were other locations that were identified as places that could be hit.
[Unknown Speaker]: Before you continue, I have one short question.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Yes. Now, at this point, I probably should explain that I was located in my office, along with my staff–residence hall staff–in the Residence Hall office.
[Unknown Speaker]: And that is in Moulton?
[Joseph LaCamera]: That’s in Moulton Hall in the basement of Moulton Hall. In addition to my immediate staff–
[End of Tape 1]
[Beginning of Tape 2]
[Joseph LaCamera]: Okay, at the same time we were explaining to on-campus students via Student Government and via the staff of the halls via as many meetings as we had possible. I believe there was some printed material, too. I’m not sure–I don’t remember that specifically. We’d have to check back on that. But, I do know that Dr. Bredemeierr met with the–with the Student Government campus-wide, including some Student Senate members, briefing them on the expectations and what the curfew meant. And it’s my understanding that there was an information center set up, with the students from the Student Senate, who manned that area to help explain things to other students. My feelings about the off-campus–
[Unknown Speaker]: You mean the non-residents–go ahead.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Yeah, my feelings about the non-residents is–I guess I’d have to be critical of any off-campus student who claimed ignorance. Most of the events on Saturday night occurred after dark. They occurred at a time when classes were not in session. They occurred and were volatile. I think that there had been plenty of time during the day to at least have some information available, either via the press or whatever, concerning what the expectations would be. For an off-campus student to come on campus that night, knowing that the curfew was going to go into effect at a certain time in town–eight o’clock–I think is highly questionable in terms of that person’s reality.
[Unknown Speaker]: However, could you explain the means by which you would attempt to communicate with off-campus students. Would it be, for example, through the KSU–
[Joseph LaCamera]: Well, it would be through the news media, through the Off-campus Student Affairs office.
[Unknown Speaker]: And what would they do?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Mr. [Gilliard?] would be the person in charge of that operation–would be the person to contact. Dr. Ambler also could give you more information on that. I do know that there was an attempt to communicate with off-campus students via Student Government and these other means. I do not know how effective it was. I just have my own opinions about off-campus people assuming a relationship on campus during a time when there was a city curfew. There was plenty of public announcements about the city curfew and what it meant, and I think for anybody to plead ignorance on that is a fool. Cause as it turned out, later that night, most of our problems in the residence halls were due to off-campus students and not our residence hall students.
And on one particular occasion on Saturday night, approximately 200 people found themselves in the rotunda area in Tri-Towers and most of these people were not only not known by our staff, but were very difficult to identify. That was later on that evening and related to the National Guard getting involved on campus. They later were let go and allowed to leave the campus. The same–some of the same movement showed up the following evening on Sunday night and forced their way into Tri-Towers, which is another interesting episode. And most of those people, probably 75% of those people, were not known by my staff.
[Unknown Speaker]: Either as on-campus or off-campus?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Were not known as either students or whether they were students or not. They’d never been seen before, so. Now, I’m not saying that they were all outsiders because I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe there’s probably a combination that’s involved here.
[Unknown Speaker]: Is it possible to place any number on the size of the group?
[Joseph LaCamera]: The size of the groups Saturday night was approximately–
[Unknown Speaker]: No, that’s not what I mean. The size of the group that would be foreign–would be unknown to you–is it possible to estimate that number?
[Joseph LaCamera]: I think you’ll want to talk to Dr. Greg Krzyston, the Area Coordinator for Tri-Towers. The activity on this campus centers around several areas. One specific area on campus is the rotunda area–the pit area–in Tri-Towers. That’s where the action is most of the time. That’s where you find out what students are thinking and feeling. Well, what the scene is. And those people in Tri-Towers will know whether we have outsiders or not. I’m sure he can give you a lot of data.
Let me go back to Saturday night. I’d say that our main objective at that point was to communicate as best we could with our staff, for the staff to communicate with us, and for me to convey information, or whatever, to Dr. Ambler and Dr. Matson, and that was the role that we played. The Student Government residence halls were with me, all the way through this.
[Unknown Speaker]: Now, during–
[Joseph LaCamera]: They were also conveying the feelings about students, the attitudes that were going on, you know, all over the residence hall area. And they kept coming in and out–they had various–there were students that were going in and out, conveying what was happening at the rally Saturday night, and what have you. Some of my staff were also doing that. I stayed in there. I did not see the setting fire of the ROTC Building.
[Unknown Speaker]: Did anybody from your staff check on how the activities were going?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Yes, yes, we were doing that constantly.
[Unknown Speaker]: No, I mean personally–leaving your office–who would have done that?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Bob Kerr, Assistant Director located in Beal-McDowell. Let’s see, who else–Tom Blair and [unintelligible], and Ken Berry and [unintelligible] in the field also, and they were helping women’s halls and giving support to the women’s halls. In Beal-McDowell we had Bob Kerr stationed there for support. Greg Krzyston was the [unintelligible] in Tri-Towers. The Area Coordinators were the primary source of coordination in all the other areas of the residence halls. Well, I might–the events Saturday night were extensive. As you probably know, the episode seemed to start at about eight o’clock or so out on The Commons [unintelligible], and moved from there to Tri-Towers to gain additional numbers of students. There were approximately 200 to 250 on The Commons at eight o’clock and they were disappointed by that number and went on to try to get some additional people to come join them. Now, it was reported to me that while they were doing that, another group formed.
[Unknown Speaker]: Now, could you tell me–
[Joseph LaCamera]: –in The Commons area.
[Unknown Speaker]: Could you tell me who it was that talked to you from the Union–who the individual was?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Well, gee, there were several people who talked to me. Bredemeier contacted me from SAC Center. Rich Cannici was in contact with me from both the Union and the SAC Center. Philip Santa Maria, the Area Coordinator in the Quad was conveying to me information about what was happening. We also had a police radio in our office, so all the police who were–we heard all the information from the police from their two-way communications. So, we knew where the crowd had moved by that source.
[Unknown Speaker]: But the individual probably who contacted you from the Union was Rich Cannici.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Well, there were several. He was one. Bredemeier was–Santa Maria was another. Bredemeier was SAC. [Unintelligible].
[Unknown Speaker]: I was saying from inside the Union.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Oh inside the Union?
[End of Tape 2]
[Beginning of Tape 3]
[Unknown Speaker]: This is the second continuation of Mr. LaCamera.
[Joseph LaCamera]: With the series of events Saturday night, as I remember the sequence, the movement from Tri-Towers by this group, which went right into the Rotunda–they marched right in–there were 200 to 250–and the report came via Mr. [Christian?]. Some of the membership contained [unintelligible]. But they marched through and tried to get students to join them. I don’t know [unintelligible 00:19:51]. They went then–left Tri-Towers and went over to Beal-McDowell. They did not go into Beal-McDowell. They marched by Beal-McDowell and came down by Eastway. That’s why I was explaining earlier that the report came in that while this group was moving from hall to hall, another group seemed to all of a sudden form out on The Commons that was not the same group. Now, I think probably that could be followed-up on. I don’t know much more about that. Because by the time that group got back to The Commons there were quite a few more than 250. I would guess there were almost a thousand people out there. And there seemed to be two groups.
[Unknown Speaker]: You said the group was about a thousand.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Yeah, I would say. Maybe another–maybe 1,200 students–1,200 people at most. That’s when–before that point, before they got back to The Commons, we had had the rumor–this was about an hour before–that the ROTC Building would be set on fire. That information was sent in. Thankfully people were also informed about that, that there were other areas that seemed to be potential targets. There was concern about Bowman, concern about the Post Office downtown. The Army Recruiter Center downtown, and the other ROTC Buildings. Well, as it progressed–as it developed, events seemed to happen very quickly [unintelligible], and there was a setting fire of the building and the–hi!
[Unknown Speaker]: Hello!
[Joseph LaCamera]: How are you? There was a–evidently a fireman came before the police arrived. Police were not there at the time when the building was first set on fire. And we kept getting reports from the police that the hoses were being cut. The–what do you call it–the firemen were being attacked by the students. And then there was another sequence where the police did arrive and the firemen attempted to put the building out. Actually, I think they did have the building out at one point and then it was set on fire a second time.
[Unknown Speaker]: Can I ask you something that you may have mentioned? After getting these rumors that the ROTC Building would be burned, what was done with reference to notifying police authorities, fire department–have you discussed this?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Yes, I made the comment that I sent in that info–all these rumors that came up would be called into the central communication center that was set up by Dr. Matson. And I also had contact with the police. And, so it was it was a dual-informing kind of situation. Well–
[Unknown Speaker]: What kind of reaction did you get from–
[Joseph LaCamera]: The reaction of–we were all active. I mean, we were all active at that point and trying to deal with it as best we could.
[Unknown Speaker]: No, no, I don’t mean that, I mean, if you yourself talked to any of the police, what kind of a response did you get from them? Was it–did you feel it was a response that indicated that they would–
[Joseph LaCamera]: They appreciated everything that I fed into them.
[Unknown Speaker]: And are we talking about the campus police?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Campus police. I didn’t have any contact with city police. It’d be only the campus police.
[Unknown Speaker]: Did you ever have contact with the National Guard?
[Joseph LaCamera]: I did have contact with the National Guard later in the weekend. That was on other matters, pertaining to information–that’s another matter that pertained to the activities we were having that night, Sunday night, in the halls, what our schedule was in the halls–communicating that material to them. That was after Saturday. I didn’t have any–I did not have contact with the National Guard Saturday night, other than being the one that–I was notified by one of my staff members in town–
[Joseph LaCamera]: Let me explain this. It’s kind of interesting here. The National Guard–this also supports some other things that took place. One of my staff called–one of my secretarial staff–called in to say that the National Guard were on such-and-such a street in town, [unintelligible], and I called that information in right away. And the University at that level did not know the National Guard was on its way.
[Unknown Speaker]: What I was going to ask was, as long as we’re on this question of the National Guard, either in general or specifically, what was their reaction to you personally when you contacted them?
[Joseph LaCamera]: Well, the first contact I had with the National Guard was later Saturday night, early–
[Unknown Speaker]: I mean at any time. As I say, as long as we’re talking about the Guard, so we don’t forget that later on.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Personally, I was treated very kindly. I didn’t have any problems.
[Unknown Speaker]: Can you–while it’s difficult, can you in any way reflect on any attitudes that that–the attitudes of any of the people that you–
[Joseph LaCamera]: The attitudes that I had involved with were positive. But my contact was limited and I’m not so sure that I had that much contact with the Guard, other than who their commanding–one of their commanding officers, Major–I can’t think of his last name. He was the one in charge of the operations. Major somebody.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Now some of my staff had very negative contact with the Guard. I had two staff members at bayonet-point taken off campus. This was later on. This was the next week. There are a lot of feelings about that, you may want to talk to those people. You may want to talk to all of my people.
[Unknown Speaker]: Alright, as long as we’re on the Guard, maybe we can–
[Joseph LaCamera]: Let’s get back to some things–
[Unknown Speaker]: Well, could we finish up–
[Joseph LaCamera]: –the sequence is kind of important.
[Unknown Speaker]: Yes, I realize that, but can we finish up the Guard and then we–
[Joseph LaCamera]: Finish off the Guard?
[Unknown Speaker]: I mean, finish talking about the Guard.
[Joseph LaCamera]: Okay.
[Unknown Speaker]: In this context. Would you give me the names of people in particular we have to–in your office we have to talk to about the Guard.
[Joseph LaCamera]: The Guard? Okay, Ken Berry, Rich Cannici.
[Unknown Speaker]: Am I spelling it right? C-A-N-E-S-S-I?
[Joseph LaCamera]: C-A-N-N-I-C-I. Tom Blair.
[End of Tape 3]
Recorded statement of Director of Residence Halls Joseph LaCamera conducted by the CKSUV.
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|Subcollection||Commission on KSU Violence records|
Commissions, Hearings, Tribunals
Reactions, Responses. Faculty, Staff
|May 4 Provenance||
May 4 Collection