The Bald Spot

The large open space between Carleton’s Skinner Memorial Chapel and the Gould Library is affectionately known as “the Bald Spot.” Encircled by academic and administrative buildings, it functions as a social and recreational gathering place for students and faculty alike.

During the warmer months, Frisbees fly near napping students. In winter, the space is flooded and frozen to form two ice rinks for figure skating, hockey, and late-night games of broomball. On occasion, in response to public crises, it serves as a meeting place for the entire campus.

In May 1970, after four students protesting the U.S. attack on Cambodia were killed at Kent State, students and faculty met at the Bald Spot to support political science professor Paul Wellstone’s recommendation that Carleton strike to protest the Vietnam War. For the next four days, classes were suspended and speeches were given urging students to peacefully boycott the war.

Wellstone, who had been teaching at Carleton since 1969, won a U.S. senate seat in 1991 and served for a decade before tragically dying in a plane crash in 2002. The Carletonian said it best in January 1974: “Someone with as colorful and dynamic a career at Carleton as Paul Wellstone is not likely to slip quietly away.” His legacy continues at Carleton through the student interest house, Wellstone House of Activism (WHOA).

The Bald Spot continues to host recreational and serious activities. In June, the annual college graduation exercises are held there.

Images

The Bald Spot Today

The Bald Spot Today

Students relax and play Ultimate Frisbee on the Bald Spot on a fall day in 2010. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Cane Rush

Cane Rush

Male students participating in the cane rush at Carleton College as part of freshman orientation on the Bald Spot in 1911. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival

An ice skating performance during Winter Carnival in the early 1950s. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Ice Skating

Ice Skating

Carleton students skating on the ice rinks in the flooded Bald Spot in the 1990s. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Schiller at Commencement

Schiller at Commencement

A 1950s student casually walks across the stage during commencement with a cigarette and the bust of Schiller in hand. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Graduation

Graduation

Carleton students and staff sit on the Bald Spot during a June graduation ceremony. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Paul Wellstone

Paul Wellstone

Paul Wellstone, government and political science professor, teaches in a Carleton classroom. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Cambodia Protest

Cambodia Protest

Students gather on the Bald Spot in 1970 to discuss and protest the U.S. government's involvement in Cambodia and Vietnam. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Student Protests

Student Protests

Students gather on the Bald Spot to hear speeches in 1980. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Audio

Paul Wellstone's 1992 Convocation

In his return to Carleton College after having been elected to the U.S. Senate, Wellstone gave a convocation address concerning grassroots organization and his experiences in government. | Source: Carleton College Digital Archives View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Leslie Moore, “The Bald Spot,” NorthfieldHistorical, accessed April 24, 2017, http://northfieldhistorical.org/items/show/41.
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