1979: TMI

1979: Students Attended Anti-Nuclear Rally in Washington D.C.

Three Mile Island (TMI) Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island in the Susquehanna River, a stone’s throw away from Penn State Harrisburg, is most famous for its partial nuclear meltdown on March 28, 1979.

Capital Campus students had mixed reactions about the TMI “accident.” Many were apathetic, saying it didn’t matter to them or it was too late to do anything about it. Others demanded tuition refunds. A handful of students dropped out. A number of students were concerned by the Capitol Campus administration’s silence about the event and expressed their concern through newspaper editorials.

Dr. Gross, provost, eventually responded with a plan to establish the Research Information Clearinghouse for the TMI incident to generate more knowledge and awareness of nuclear power plants. In an interview with a student reporter he said, “It’s very clear to me that the lack of knowledge leads to fear. As soon as we know about something, we can deal with it.”

Other students were more proactive in their stance on nuclear energy. Fran Costanzi, for example, was one of 25 Capitol Campus students who attended an anti-nuclear rally in Washington, D.C. with around 125,000 other protesters on May 6, 1979.

After attending an anti-nuclear movie in Middletown, community members invited her and classmate Linda Morrow to attend a meeting of the Three Mile Island Alert, a local anti-nuclear organization. Both women attended and afterwards they and a few other classmates recruited others to attend the rally in D.C.

Costanzi speculated that most of the 25 Capitol Campus rally attendees went for the music. She said, “I don’t know if that’s bad because while people may have come for the music, questions about nuclear power may have been raised and they may have learned something by attending.”

“I can’t rationalize just sitting back and letting someone else alert people to the dangers of nuclear power. The time is now,” Costanzi told the C.C. Reader. She also said she hoped the community doesn’t become apathetic about nuclear energy in the future.

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