Summoned to the Dean’s Office | Part 1 of 2

by Elouise

Nothing struck fear in women students like getting summoned to appear before the Women’s Dean or her assistant. As noted in yesterday’s post, ‘with only a few exceptions’ I got through Bible college without getting into trouble. Here’s exception #1.

In the 1960s, women students were responsible for getting car permissions. It didn’t matter whether it was a car full of women or a car of women and men. We still had to get car permission unless we were graduate students. Which I was not.

When women and men rode together, the number in the car depended on status. Freshmen and sophomores had to have at least 6 people in a mixed gender car. Juniors and seniors got by with 4 (two men, two women). As a freshman, I sometimes found this most annoying. That meant one couple had to split up. He in the back seat, she in the front.

But this was a small thing. The permission process had its own rules, clearly stated in the handbook and posted above the permission counter in the women’s lobby. The first rule: women are responsible for requesting car permissions. The other rules were all about the process. On the counter we would find everything needed to request car permission including forms to fill out and a box for submitting permission requests.

Car permission wasn’t automatic. Each request submitted by the deadline was reviewed for approval and signed by the proper official. If there were questions, the woman who submitted the request received a telephone call for answers.

Assuming permission has been granted, we’re still not ready to go when we please. It’s Friday evening. I’ve signed out (required when leaving campus) and am standing in the hallway just outside the women’s lobby. So is my friend along with lots of other women.

The men have just walked or driven over from the men’s dormitories to pick up their dates. They’re sitting and standing all over the lobby, waiting for the magic moment when the bell rings!

The bell rings! We walk into the lobby, our dates rise to their feet, help us with our jackets (wonderful moment of almost-touching!), gaze into our eyes (I could die right now and go to heaven!), and we’re off on our date. Thank you for holding the door open for me; thank you for helping me into the car; did you just touch my elbow???!!! Oh the bliss of it….

There’s nothing like starvation to make starvation rations look like a feast. But I mustn’t get off track here. This is about permissions, and signing in and signing out.

When we return from the city, we sign in and stand around in the lobby talking to our dates. We’re waiting until the very last precious minute. That’s when the bell rings to signal dating hours are over and we’re all going to turn into pumpkins if we don’t disappear. An assistant to the Women’s Dean waits in the wings with a clipboard to record names of late-goers and late-comers. She’s kind. I like her. She tries to look unobtrusive.

The next morning my woman friend and I each get a telephone call from the assistant to the Women’s Dean. Would you please stop by my office at such and such a time? Not together, but separately.

I arrive at my appointed time. I see you were out last night. Who were you with? Where did you go? Why didn’t you fill out a car permission request?  My heart sank. Out without a permission slip? Good Girl Me?

Because we were good students with good records, we would receive a light penalty and let this be a warning. Read this book, write a report about how it helps you in your spiritual journey, and file the report by the deadline on this penalty sheet. The report will go in your permanent file.

That was it. Over and done. The men involved never got called in to explain anything. They weren’t responsible, we were. This episode opened a crack in my good Girl Armor.

To be continued. . . .

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 March 2015