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May 01, 2017 09:45 AM EDT

Steve Kussin of Cornell University's batch '69 weaved together a narrative about Cornell during the 1960s with his new book, titled Five Freshman: A Story of the Sixties. It has been added to the Olin Library collection last October.

The book highlights five different perspectives of students at Cornell, which followed each of their journeys during the turbulent 1960s. From the start of the orientation to graduation on to the eve of the Vietnam War, Kussin provided a glimpse of how it was like at Cornell.

Issues ranged from the Vietnam War to women's liberation to civil rights. Kussin shared how his father was a hostage in the Willard Straight takeover of 1969. Four of the characters in his book are fictional, while the fifth is Kussin himself, The Cornell Sun reported.

Kussin currently teaches an introductory course about radio, TV and film in the School of Communication at Hofstra University. His experience as an undergraduate was shaped by political movements during the Vietnam War and inspired him to write a novel.

He said being a Cornell student was a different experience. In 1965, Kussin said they were worry free and it was wonderful time back then. He described Cornell as an isolated Garden of Eden in upstate New York.

Compared to Ivy League schools that were located close to larger cities, world events had a different impact on the students at Cornell. When one of them would get drafted it was a scary time because they didn't know when the next letter or call would be. The effect of the Civil Rights Movement added tension on campus.

On April 1969, Kussin was a senior when the Willard Straight Takeover happened. It was different from other takeovers because it was the first instance weapons were present. The campus was in a state of siege for about a week.

Kussin said Perkins, the Cornell president at that time, did the right thing. After witnessing such events, Kussin emphasized the importance of speaking up. It served as a significant lesson he has carried from college especially during a turbulent political time.


Follows Cornell University, Steve Kussin, Willard Straight Takeover, 1960s, Five Freshman: A Story of the Sixties, Olin Library, Vietnam War, Willard Straight, School of Communication, Hofstra University, Garden of Eden, Civil Rights Movement, state of siege, turbulent political time
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