Memories of SSU
Executive Director of the SSU Student Union
Program developer in the Career Center, 1968-1986
SSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, 1998
(Excerpted from an interview with Daniel Markwyn, January 19, 1990)
I came to Sonoma State from San Diego State in the fall of 1965. At that time, the college was in the temporary quarters in Rohnert Park with the sewage ponds right behind. I was undeclared at San Diego State but I switched over to History in time for the spring semester.
I found a home here. I’ve always felt more comfortable being a medium size fish in a small pond than any size fish in a big pond, so Sonoma State was just right for me. I think we had fewer than a thousand students at the time, and the campus had such a feeling of closeness and community. I found ways to make myself useful that I am sure I never would have discovered at San Diego State.
When the new campus opened in 1966, we were all faced with this new environment. I think that brought the people together. Stevenson and Darwin were nice little environments. We had great discussions in the Stevenson courtyard. We called it the quad at the time. That really was sort of the focus of a lot of free speech and open microphone sort of discussions among the campus community. Faculty and students and staff and outside community members all felt that that was an appropriate forum for discussions about all sorts of things such as, the war, the Black Panthers, hippies, drugs and education. The students took their issues seriously and debated them seriously, but always respected, I think, the academic environment. We all had a feeling that this was a special place for many reasons.
I have a certain romantic memory of those times. There were tough times, and I think that there were stresses among segment of the campus and community. But if you ask even those who seemed to be the most radical of the students, and the faculty, if they really respected the institution of Sonoma State separate from the statewide college system, I think all of them would agree it was someplace to be protected and respected.
The ideas and different points of view were argued with as much heat as anywhere else. The debates happened here; it’s just that confrontation didn’t happen as often. I don’t think there was a brick thrown or a match lit, or anything like that. We had some hard-core students here. We had founders of SNIK, SDS. We had radical blacks, Black Panthers. We had people associated with La Raza and the cause of Chicano farm workers. We had criminals, thieves and murderers.
I can’t blame the community for not understanding what was going on here because they just assumed what was going on at Berkeley or San Francisco State was going on here as well. Who wanted to try and set foot in what they felt might have been hostile territory by coming on campus and seeing what was going on in classrooms and labs or lectures?
Sonoma State was the sort of place where it was okay for you to be you. It still is okay for you to be you with your background and your values. Just know there is a different point of view. There is a different way of seeing things and of reacting and behaving that may make just as much sense someplace else.Ron Logsdon died in 1999.