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February 20, 1969
The Student As Slave
Chained by tradition, shackled by regimen
tation and tortured with grades, the student is
The comparison of today's collegian to yes
terday's downtrodden black is discussed by
Jerry Farbcr, professor of English at California
State at Los Angeles. His article, “The Student
As Nigger," reprinted in NCSU’s Technician.
in graphically and, at times, brutally, makes
his point. In its unedited form, the article
might prove offensive to some; therefore, to
insure everyone's consideration of the message,
rather than the style, we have omitted pro
fanity and topics unrelated to our own campus.
Meredith too fosters the academic slave men
tality. Like slaves, Meredith students know
their place. They know they have only three
class cuts per semester until they reach junior
standing, eligibility or Dean’s List privileges.
They sec the same restriction on chapel ab
sence but without merit exceptions. They
know they must take a burden of required
courses to the exclusion of more stimulating
While student government machinery is com
plex, student voices arc actually small. Though
student participation on long range committees
and department sell'-stiidies is a step toward
academic emancipation, significant freedom is
absent from final decisions. The faculty and
administration select courses; the students
choose a May Queen. The faculty propose dis
sent and champion open minded discussion;
the students may meet the challenge, but
realize on the quiz they must regurgitate the
professor’s opinion to earn the A.
The student picture seems dismal, even at
Meredith, until one recognizes that, unlike
others in the slave condition, we are not lost
in the shuffle of IBM cards and the imper
sonality of a larger university. When other
students complain professors are more inter
ested in research or consultation with industry,
Meredith girls realize the sincere interest in the
individual which, as a whole, the faculty ex
We are satisfied with the existing personal
attention of the relationship, yet we protest the
trivialities. We protest the weapons used by the
faculty — the arsenal of grades, rules and au
thority which intimidate and instill a system of
fear. Instead of fear, there should be a mutual
respect. The good professor need not resort to
the red pencil to insure class attendance; he
makes his class time so valuable and interesting
that the student loses the desire to cut.
How does the student escape servitude?
Meredith would not benefit by physical riot or
rebellion, but a mental one is needed of each
individual. A total re-evaluation of aims and
purposes of the small liberal arts college and
a more bilateral respect for faculty and students
could assure the community atmosphere, freed
from the bondage of slavery.
SAJ and MOC
"The Student as Ni\>^er"
By JERRY FARBER
Los A nf>ele!i Free Press
Reprinted from the Technician
Students are niggers. When you
get that straight, our schools begin
to make sense...,
The faculty and administrators
decide what courses will be of
fered; ... (a student) calls a
faculty member "Sir" or "Doctor"
or “Professor’’ — and he smiles and
shuffles some as he stands outside
the professor's office waiting for
permission to enter. Tlie faculty tell
him what courses to take (in my
department, English, even electives
have to be approved by a faculty
member); they tell him what to
read, what to write, and frequently
where to set the margins on his
typewriter. They tell him what's true
and what isn’t. Some teachers insist
that they encourage dissent but
they’re almost always jiving and
every student knows it. 'fell the man
what he wants to hear or he’ll fail
When a teacher says "jump.’'
students jump. I know of one pro
fessor who refused to take up class
time for exams and required stu
dents to show up for tests at 6:30
in the morning. And they did, . . .
Even more discouraging than this
Auschwitz approach to education is
the fact that the students take it.
They haven’t gone through twelve
years of public school for nothing.
They’ve learned one thing and per
haps only one thing during those
twelve years. They’ve forgotten
their algebra. They’re hopelessly
vague about chemistry and physics.
They’ve grown to fear and re.scnt
literature. They write like they
follow orders! Freshman come up
to me with an essay and ask if I
want it folded and whether their
name should be in the upper right
hand corner. And I want to cry and
kiss them and caress their poor
Students don’t ask that orders
make sense. They give up expect
ing things to make sense long be
fore they leave elementary school.
Things are true because the teacher
says they arc true. At a very early
age we all learn to accept “Two
truths," as did certain medieval
churchmen. Outside of class, things
are true to your tongue, your fin
gers, your stomach, your heart. In
side class, things are true by reason
of authority. And that’s just fine
because you don’t care anyway. . . .
The important thing is to please.
. . . Back in kindergarten, you found
out that teachers only love children
who stand in nice straight lines.
And that’s where it’s been at ever
since. Nothing changes except to
get worse. School becomes more
and more obviously a prison. . . .
What school amounts to, then, for
white and black kids alike, is a 12-
year course in how to be slaves.
What else could explain what I see
in a freshman class. They’ve got
that slave mentality; obliging and
ingratiating on the surface but hos
tile and resistant underneath. . . .
The teachers I know best arc
college professors. Outside the class
room and taken as a group, their
most striking characteristic is timidi
For one thing little education
takes place in the schools. How
could it? You can’t educate slaves;
you can only train them. Or, to use
an even uglier and more timely
word, you can only program them.
I like to folk dance. Like other
novices. I’ve gone to the intersec
tion or to the Museum and laid out
good money in order to learn how
to dance. No grades, no pre-
requisities, they just turn you on to
dancing. That’s education. Now
1 F A CU U*T Y ABSBNBJb-l
Letters to the Editor
look at what happens in college. A
friend of mine. Milt, recently fin
ished a folk dance class.
For his final he had to learn
things like this: “The Irish are
known for their wit and imagina
tion, qualities reflected in their
dances, which include the jog, the
reel and the hornpipe.” And then
the teacher graded him, A, B, C,
D, or F, while he danced in front
of her. That’s not education. That’s
not even training. That’s an abomi
nation on the face of the earth. Its
especially ironic because Milt took
that dance class trying to get out
of the academic rut.
He took crafts for the same
reason. Great, right? Get your
hands in some clay? Make some
thing? Then the teacher announced
that a 20-page term paper would
be required with footnotes.
Students don't get emancipated
when they graduate. As a matter of
fact, we don’t let them graduate un
til they’ve demonstrated their will
ingness — over 16 years — to re
main slaves. And for important
jobs, like teaching, we make them
go through more years, just to
make sure. What I am getting at
is that we’re all more or less niggers
and salves, teachers and students
alike. This is a fact you want to
start with in trying to understand
wider social phenomena, say, poli
tics, in our country and in other
Students, like black people,
have immense unused power. They
could, theoretically, insist on par
ticipating in their own education.
They could make academic free
dom bilateral. They could teach
their teachers to thrive on love and
admiration, rather than fear and re
spect, and to lay down their
weapons. Students could discover
We protest. We protest the shift
ing of blame from the entire student
body to the freshman class. We re
fer, of course, to the recent letter
carried by this paper which claimed
the guilt of the class of ’72 in chapel
disorder. The noise, the discourtesy,
the unrest displayed in almost every
chape! session is not entirely the
fault of the underclassmen. It is the
fault — fault? — of the whole stu
dent body. Yet is it really a fault?
Perhaps. We suggest, however, that
the fault lies in Meredith’s chapel
program. We suggest that the noise
in chapel is our namby-pamby ef
fort to rebel against the system.
We suggest that required chapel is
We contend that the vast majority
of chapel programs hold no interest
for the students. We are forced —
yes, forced—to spend hours of dis
satisfaction, boredom and repressed
rebellion every semester. Moreover,
chapel programs apparently hold a
very minimum of interest for fac
ulty and administration — the
powers which demand our bodily
attendance at all but three of these
“sessions” every semester. This fact
illustrates two major points — the
quality of the programs, and the
unwillingness of the supremacy to
participate in what they force us to
Our “trial period” of chapel at
tendance by honor did not work.
Some may say it failed because of
our lack of honor. We say it failed
because the students could care less
about chapel. We don't want it, on
the honor system or on the dictator
system. We just don't want it.
Finally, we contend that student
behavior or misbehavior, which
ever you prefer — will not improve
so long as we are forced to attend
chapel. This is our conclusion, but
it should be an obvious one without
this letter. The results, too. should
be obvious. But, good luck. Com
placency has gotten no results.
We’re up for a little involvement.
Cindy Griffith, Betty King,
Peggy Timmerman, Emily Dellinger.
Dear Student Body:
I have just returned from the
Second Touch Worship Celebration.
It is hard for me to settle down to
write this letter. Dancing, shouting,
and singing seem much more ap
propriate. However, what I want to
say must be said now, and it has a
direct relationship to the message of
I think you students are neglect
ing one of the best chances to ex
plore relationships, find out your
“thing” and do it, investigate “the
world,” and enlarge your creative
powers, by failing to use the po
tential of a dramatic program on
The drama program is designed
to be student controlled. The bud
get for it is administered by a stu
dent. It would support more activity.
The possibilities are endless. As
a member of such a group you
might decide to give a formal
drama, a reader's theatre produc
tion, sponsor visiting artists, sponsor
trips to other campuses, publish
student recommendations or con
demnations of Raleigh entertain- .
ment programs, make short films,
write and produce a play and do
audience participation drama.
A worthwhile play house should
serve as a “brain bank” for almost
any activity on campus. There j
should be girls who would love to
paint with light to assist in the light- , ^
ing of all lectures, shows and pro
ductions on campus. An artist might
want to try her hand at designing a ,
set. Singers and dancers could see to
it that they had a chance to per
form. Novice writers may need a
chance to hear their works read or
see them performed. Struggling stu- >
dents of theology, psychology or
philosophy should have a chance to
study a character or a set of ideas
by living with it as one does when •
preparing a dramatic performance.
Girls interested in elementary edu
cation should at least have an
opportunity to investigate play pro-,
duction problems or creative dra
matics. Budding sociologists or psy
chologists might want to explore the
benefits of role playing or psycho
drama. The limits would be im- ^
posed only by the imagination of
the participants. - '
From a personal point of view,
I must say that I stay busy even
without a very active dramatics .
program. However, I feel frustrated
because 1 have enthusiasm and a
willingness to assist in the building
of a pertinent, exciting program of •
dramatic activities. But I can no
longer drag a dead horse around.
Actually, I am exaggerating a bit.
The horse is not completely dead,
only lame. There are some dramatic,
activities on campus now and then
but, if I may make a comparison
here, (and I already have), a dra
matics program should be a race •
horse straining at the starting gate
and not a potential candidate for
cat food. 1 love what drama means ,
too much to sec it limp along. I •
never could stand to see anything
! know that spring semester is
hectic; so is fall semester. But —
you find time to do what you want ,
to do!!! Do not wait for a more
opportune moment. It will never'
Now is the time, if you want the
opportunity to participate in any •
way in a meaningful dramatics pro
gram, to tell me of your interest so ■
that a date can be found to plan
toward future activities, if there is
no response to this letter, it may be '
that I shall feel forced to present
the problem to the administration.
Dead branches (and lame horses) /
are usually removed. Do not mis
understand me. The case I am pre
senting is not a personal one in- ■
volving my position on the faculty.
(1 would only make a very small
portion of low quality glue any
way.) The case is for a student
program. It could mean the closing
of a program that has the potential
of bridging the gap sometimes men
tioned between class and the life
situation, a program that could be
student directed — the type of pro-,
gram for which some other cam
puses are rebelling.
Ever so sincerely,
Mrs. Ruth Ann Phillips,