This is the story of a plot of earth. Of dirt and grass and mud and rain. A right-angled triangle, 925 feet long by 407 feet wide, intersected by a natural stream.
(Click on a decade above to see the events for that period.) In 1962, the IU Board of Trustees designated Dunn Meadow as the only space on campus for spontaneous free speech. The trustees might have tried to do students a favor by giving them a space to express themselves. But by designating free speech, they also limited it. The above time line shows how different groups and cultures have used the meadow from 1960 to the present — each expressing their own wishes and remembrances in a single, historical space.
Five years before many of the Vietnam protests, IU trustees designated Dunn Meadow as a place for free speech and protest. But many of the major demonstrations the University witnessed in the late ’60s and early ’70s did not happen in the meadow.
Doug Bauder, coordinator of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services, has witnessed solemn, celebratory and awareness-raising events from the GLBT community in Dunn Meadow.
It was a time when very few women had faculty positions at IU. A time when there was no childcare system on campus, no policy to deal with maternity leave and no domestic abuse or rape shelter in Bloomington.
It was a time of isolation —but it was also a time of action.
In the 1960s, Dunn Meadow was the place where protests could occur with or without notice, said former Dean of Students Richard McKaig. And it still is.
Throughout the years Dunn Meadow has served many different purposes. From the home of Bob Knight's farewell speech to an airplane runway, Dunn Meadow is more than a plot of land. This is the fourth part of the Dunn Meadow series, which focuses on events in the meadow from 1980 to the present. View our interactive timeline here.