VOLUME 43 NUMBER 1
“The BSU Anniversary”
While I salute the anniversary of the Black Student Union, your article might leave a wrong impression for readers without benefit of the facts and experience regarding the demonstration against GE. Specifically, to say only that “... four black students were singled out for suspension ...” without further elaboration might imply they were the only students suspended.
My recollection, supported in Thy Honored Name by Rev. Anthony Kuzniewski, S.J., states that there were a total of 54 protesters—49 white and five black. Twelve white and four black students were identified and suspended from the College.
This situation, in my mind, was a shining moment—a “profile in courage,” if you will—for the president of the college, Rev. Raymond Swords, S.J., who found himself under intense pressure from alumni, local and national press and others to maintain the suspensions.
Father Swords granted amnesty to all the suspended students and his statement at the time was that if only white students were involved, he would not have granted that amnesty. But the “de facto mathematical disproportion of the Blacks who were identified” left him no choice but to grant the black students amnesty and doing that, to all the students, lest there be charges of reverse discrimination.
It was a turbulent time to be on any college campus in those years and that included being on Mount St. James. Father Swords’ decision brought a fractious campus together.
As a member of the Class of 1970, we had the distinct honor and privilege of having Father Swords, the outgoing president, as our Commencement speaker. Again, from Thy Honored Name, Father Swords needed reassurance that our Class still wanted him to be our speaker and he was told, “It is our desire now, more than ever [,] in light of your courageous decision of December 14, that you address us at graduation.” At our graduation, “When he finished speaking, he received a prolonged, ‘thunderous’ standing ovation.”
Thomas J. Neagle ’70
“Give Another Hoiah”
In a recent issue of HCM, John Gearan recognized the following outstanding Holy Cross athletes who hailed from the Worcester area: Jack “The Shot” Foley ’62, Bobby Curran ’48, Bobby Foley ’63, John Tivnan ’48, Phil O’Neill ’69 and Leominster’s Ronnie Cahill ’40.
To this illustrious group, I would like to add OWEN COOGAN ’53.
Together with his siblings (Dan and Mary), Owen was raised by his mother as a single parent on Kilby Street in the heart of the working-class Worcester neighborhood, known as “Main South.” Kilby Street is a block from St. Peter’s High School and a short walk, via Southbridge Street, to College Square.
As a standout guard on the St. Peter’s football team, Coogan excelled in the classroom as well as on the gridiron and was awarded a football scholarship to Holy Cross.
Converted to defensive end, Coogan starred on several great Crusader teams. His teammate, Vic Rimkus, noted that he was only 175 pounds, but he was a “tremendously hard hitter.” On Nov. 22, 1952, Fitton Field was the scene for “Owen Coogan Appreciation Day,” attended by a large number of his fans from Worcester and beyond.
It was most appropriate that Owen was inducted in the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame on May 7, 2000.
The epitome of a student-athlete, Worcester’s Own, Owen Coogan, is retired as the director of development for the Diocese of Worcester.
Joseph F. Sawyer ’53