The Midwestern Baptist College years 1976-79
I lived in the Midwestern dormitory my freshman and sophomore year. The dormitory consisted of a basement and a first and second floor. The women lived on the second floor and the men took up residence in the basement and the first floor. I lived on the first floor
The first floor of the dormitory had two sections. The dormitory lobby area separated these two sections from each other. One section of the first floor of the dormitory was called the spiritual wing and the other section was called the party wing. I lived on the party wing.
For the most part living in the dormitory was quite enjoyable and fun. Most of the guys were great to be around and there never was a dull moment. I have many fond memories of my time spent in the Midwestern dormitory.
The dormitory supervisors were Ralph and Sophie Bitner. Ralph and Sophie were graduates of Midwestern. They had no children and no experience with adolescents in a dormitory setting. The Bitner’s seemed to have little real-life experience and for the most part were quite ineffective in helping the young people that lived in the dormitory. For the most part we ignored them.
There were a lot of rules to keep. Failure to keep the rules resulted in the student being written up. Every infraction of the rules had a demerit value. When a student broke the rules their name and the infraction was written on a demerit slip that was turned into the Dean’s office. Every week a list would be posted of people who were required to appear before the disciplinary committee to answer for the demerit slips that had been turned in the previous week.
I often tell people that I made the Dean’s list quite often at Midwestern.What I don’t tell them is that it was the Dean’s disciplinary list that I was on so often.
One time I was written up for borrowing. Yes borrowing. Midwestern had a rule against borrowing. One winter day I borrowed my fiancé’s winter parka. It was a unisex parka. Evidently my roommate saw me borrow the parka and he wrote me up. I had to appear before the disciplinary committee to answer for the sin of borrowing. I tried quoting the Bible in my defense. Matthew 5:42 says Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. The committee was not interested in what the Bible had to say. All that mattered is that I broke the rules.
Another time I was written up for breaking the six-inch rule. The six-inch rule was a rule meant to keep unmarried men and women from getting too close to each other. 6 inches is about the width of a songbook or a Bible and unmarried students were not allowed to be closer than a songbook or a Bible from each other.
I was on the college basketball team. One day during practice I slapped at a basketball and severely dislocated a finger. I was rushed to the emergency room and the doctor was able to fix the dislocation. I’m left-handed and the dislocation had occurred on my left hand.
Every male student was required to wear a tie to class. I found it very difficult to tie a tie with one hand, so one day I asked my fiancé to tie my tie for me. In doing so we broke the six-inch rule. Someone anonymously turned us in for breaking the six-inch rule and we had to appear before the disciplinary committee to answer the charges against us.
We each receive 25 demerits for breaking the six-inch rule. We were warned that if we broke the six-inch rule again we would be expelled from school. Little did they know that we have been breaking it for quite some time.
Most dormitory students lived for the weekend. Students could only date on the weekends. Double dating was required and no student could go farther away than 10 miles from the dormitory. This was called the 10 mile limit. No physical contact between students was allowed. No kissing. No holding hands. No physical contact whatsoever.
Most students tried to adhere to the rules for a while. Some, like my fiancé and I, kept the six-inch rule religiously until we went home for our first Christmas break. While home on Christmas break were allowed to act like normal young adults who were in love. We held hands, kissed, necked, and pretty much acted like any other couple mutually infatuated with each other.
Once the genie was out of the bottle it was impossible to put her back in. When we returned to Midwestern we realized we could not continue to keep the six-inch rule. So for the next 18 months we sought out couples to double date with that had the same view of the six-inch rule as we did. We had to be very careful. Choose the wrong couple to double date with and you could end up getting expelled from school.
Rules, like the six-inch rule, put the dormitory students in a position where they had to lie and cheat just to be able to act like normal young adults. Many students ended up getting campused (not allowed to leave the campus or date) or were expelled because they broke the six-inch rule.
Illicit sexual activity was quite common among dormitory students. There was always a lot of gossip about who was doing what, when and where. During the spring of my sophomore year many of us rented apartments in the Pontiac area. We were all planning to get married over the summer, and since apartments were hard to come by, we rented them as soon as we found them.
Unfortunately the apartments turned into a big temptation for some couples. They began using the apartments as a safe place for sexual activity. I could give you the names of several well-known preachers and their wives who lost their virginity at one of these apartments. Some of these preachers are now known to rail against sexual immorality. It seems they have forgotten about their own sexual immorality many years ago.
Practical jokes were a common part of the dormitory experience. I loved playing practical jokes on others.
One of my roommates was what we called a Pharisee. He loved getting other people in trouble. He loved writing people up. He was the one who wrote me up for borrowing my fiancé’s parka.
One day I saw an opportunity to get even with my roommate. I knew he was in love with a waitress that worked at a nearby diner. He would often go down to the diner and drool over her. He even gave her his phone number, and that would prove to be his undoing.
One night I talked one of the dormitory girls into calling my roommate pretending to be the girl from the diner. I told her to set up a date with my roommate. She did. I told her to make sure the date time was after curfew.
My roommate was quite excited after getting the phone call from the girl at the diner. He had no car of his own, so he borrowed someone else’s car and off to the diner he went.
Upon returning, after curfew, in a borrowed car, to the dormitory I made sure the dormitory supervisor was waiting for him. Needless to say my roommate found himself in quite a bit of trouble. Revenge was sweet!
Dormitory life for me was a two-year party. Lots of fun. Lots of camaraderie. Lots of good memories.
In retrospect I can now see how oppressive the rules were, but like the good Baptist boy that I was, I adapted to the rules and learned to manipulate the rules that I couldn’t keep. The rules made for an unnatural environment, but in spite of the rules I had a great experience living in the Midwestern dormitory.
I plan to write a good bit more about my time at Midwestern Baptist College. Stay tuned.