Friday, January 23, 2015

Students Asked to Leave College; We Cannot Indulge Boys Who Do Not Work and Do Not Want to Work, 1906

From the Jan. 9, 1906, issue of the Semi-Weekly Messenger, Wilmington, N.C.

President Winston Tells Why Many Students Failed…40 of the 500 Students Did Not Return After the Holidays

Scenes all about the Agricultural and Mechanical college are all indicative of the fact that the holidays are a thing of the past as old students and new and untried ones pace the beautiful campus, ramble from place to place and pass in review for placement and the beginning of the work of the spring term. There were registered today 133 students, six of whom are new men, out of a total at the close of the holiday season of 467. Your correspondent called this afternoon and was admitted to an interview with President George T. Winston in regards to two matters of special interest, the first of these being the recent editorial utterance in the Wilmington Messenger, in which the president and the conduct of the college are caustically criticized. At first there was a soberness in the face of the president, and then he smiled and slowly said: “I have nothing to say in reply.” This utterance then suggested the rumor that has been heard for a day or two in regard to the failure of so many students to return to the college for the last half term, and there naturally followed a query from your correspondent as to the proportion of athletes among the students, and the average in their attainments under discipline. President Wilson entered into details of the situation and made clear the situation in all its various phrases. He said in part, as follows: “It is true that there are 41 students who have not been able to make the average required by this institution in order to remain with us. If we have boys here who are disposed to waste their own time, the means and indulgence of parents and guardians, and unnecessarily occupy rooms that would otherwise be occupied by earnest and painstaking students, and who place a needless tax and strain upon the teachers, we feel they should apply what energies and ability they may have in other lines to that particular thing and to relieve all other conditions, for they retard things. Out of a total of about 500 students, 40 failed in their work, and we had nothing to do but require them either to start again at the bottom, or to remain away from the college. Now out of this number, in regards to the matter of athletics, only five of these boys are athletes, and that cannot be charged against them or the institution. It simply means that the college and crowded and has been crowded, and as we are giving a practical, independent education, we therefore cannot be indulgent to the boys who do not work and do not want to work. We deal in utmost frankness with the boys and with their parents, and as quietly as possible inform them that work is the thing for them or the real beginning in preparatory schools and not with us here at the A. & M.”

The real situation is made more clear when the practical side of the matter is considered. President Winston is in receipt of a number of letters from students who failed as well as their parents. In some instances there is acceptance of the truth of the situation, and again there is complaint, but all in all it is as the head of the college says. “It is a waste of life and energy and everything else to allow such students to remain within the college.” In the end many will return to resume study at the first end, while others will not face the mortification, and will follow their own bents and enter the world of trade and traffic.

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