Summoned to the Dean’s Office | Part 2 of 2
Bible college rules and regulations were concrete and measurable. When I didn’t have car permission, I didn’t have car permission. Case closed. Accept the consequences even though you don’t like them.
The second time I got called to the Dean’s Office was different. I hadn’t broken any rules or regulations. True, we had tons of rules about male-female relationships. Don’t touch each other. Don’t meet outside of regulated social times. Don’t announce engagements without permission.
In addition to dating, we could ‘socialize.’ This invention allowed couples to spend limited informal time together each evening. Meet in the women’s lobby, after the bell rings, to walk to supper. Spend a little time walking around the campus on approved roads and paths, or sit on a bench in front of the dormitories or in the women’s or men’s lobbies. Not too close together, mind you. Be back at the women’s lobby before the bell rings.
The mechanics for keeping out of trouble were simple. It wasn’t, however, simple to let your beloved know that you were crazy about him or her. So the two of us did what came naturally to us, especially as introverts who didn’t always feel the need to be chatty.
We held eyes! Silently. Intentionally. We’re focused individuals, quite capable of shutting out the entire world when zeroing in on something worthy of our full attention. As you can see for yourself. No touching, hands tightly clasped in his and her laps, at least one inch of space between us, eyes locked in place!
One day I got a call from the Women’s Dean herself. She wanted to see me in her office. She didn’t sound distressed or upset. But just getting the call made me nervous. I ran through the list of Thou Shalt Nots, and couldn’t imagine what this would be about.
I walked into her office. She invited me to sit in the rocking chair in front her desk. She smiled and sat in the chair behind her desk, then chatted a bit with me. I can’t say I was very relaxed. I was totally unprepared for what came next.
‘Someone’ had said ‘something’ to her about the way I was looking at my beloved. It was making that person uncomfortable, so she just thought she would mention it to the Women’s Dean.
The Women’s Dean decided to call me in for a little chat. It was about how our eyes are windows to our souls and if we’re not careful we can give more of ourselves away through our eyes than we could ever give away through our bodies.
She didn’t tell me not to look at my beloved. She didn’t say I’d done anything out of order. She just commented and then sat there looking at me and smiling. Then she asked whether I understood what she had just said. I wasn’t at all sure I had, but I didn’t say anything. I just nodded. I was in shock.
Is she saying my eyes have committed a sin in relation to my beloved? Does she understand that looking, listening and talking are the ONLY avenues open to us while we’re students at this college? Has she given herself to any man in this way (through her eyes)? Did she watch us doing this? Should I feel dirty right now?
I can’t remember what happened next. That evening I asked the man I was planning to marry (and did!) whether he’d gotten a call from the Men’s Dean about the way he was looking into my eyes. No, he had not. We laugh at this now, but back then it felt bizarre and threatening, especially for me.
A few weeks later the woman who reported me told me she had done so. For some reason it helped, though I still wasn’t sure what the fuss was about.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 March 2015