The Bald Spot

Leslie Moore

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.