Faculty Wife | Part 14

by Elouise

Race of the Year! D on red tricycle with other contestants, Bible College 1972

By spring 1972, the stress of being a mother and the reality of being back at the Bible College had worn me down. My depression returned.

D was struggling with the cultural climate of the Bible College, especially its assumptions about the place and role of students. The president talked about making changes, yet it seemed not much had changed since our days at the Bible College. The culture was still authoritarian and hierarchical (male priority; female submission).

No one wore a uniform. Yet there seemed to be an attitudinal uniform with key components that signaled whether you were ‘submissive’ or ‘rebellious.’ Sometimes it was as simple as how much makeup a woman chose to use. Other times it was about hair.

For example, the length of men’s hair. That included how much hair he had on his face—beard, sideburns, mustache, plus ponytail or anything over his collar or down his back. Clean-shaven was the goal. And neat. Nothing that would call attention to oneself. D pushed the boundaries a bit with his hair, though that was the least of his worries. You already know about the tie.

Then one day Jesus people started applying to come to the Bible College. Hair and all. Instead of welcoming them as they were, the men were told to cut their hair; men and women were told to ditch their street clothes for proper attire. D and others took up their cause; eventually they were allowed to enroll.

Then there was the student newspaper incident. The Bible College wasn’t in the habit of requesting student feedback or opinions about much of anything. So a group of students, male and female, decided to publish their own campus newspaper. They called it “Little People Think.” They asked D for his counsel, and later for his help.

As a female graduate of the Bible College, I could only agree with them. I also agreed to write an article for the first edition. Was I nervous? A bit. It seems this was my first official article telling the truth publicly.

I wrote about assumptions and expectations professors and others seemed to have about women. Though I didn’t call myself a feminist back then, I was fed up with the second-class status status required of women students. My article was included in the first edition of the newspaper.

The students wanted to distribute this via student mailboxes, just like the official student newspaper. Their solution? They asked D if he would put them in the boxes. He had a key to the mailroom and was a faculty member. No one would suspect him unless they saw him in the area at 4 am or so!

The alternative paper was furtively distributed to all campus mailboxes. No one knew where it came from or how it got there.

The administration wasn’t happy, but they didn’t demand a recall. Strangely, no one ever said a word to me about my article, which included my name. They did, however, make sure copies of the next edition never made it into student mailboxes or were distributed on campus.

Then there was the 1972  presidential election. D and I put a bumper sticker in the back window of our car. We were for McGovern/Shriver, who ran against Nixon/Agnew. It remained there for less than half a day!

Within hours of arriving on campus for his morning classes, D was told to remove the bumper sticker  immediately. The president didn’t want members of the board to arrive on campus and find a Democratic bumper sticker on a faculty member’s car. It seems freedom of speech didn’t exist in the same way for everyone at the Bible College.

In the midst of this I began thinking about ways to get help for my exhausted body, emotions and spirit. I felt trapped.

To be continued….

P.S. Yes, D won the tricycle race!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 Oct 2015
Photo credit: who knows? I don’t!