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When Colleges Went Co-Ed And Multi-Racial | Elizabeth Toupin | TEDxBeaconStreet

I want to tell you that first thing I
did was to throw up my planned speech I
was stunned by the news that after 35
years the number the top colleges in the
United States had not increased a number
of black students in their schools this
is in spite of the fact that 29 percent
more black students were going to
college I think this is rather shocking
to go back to the times when I was a
Dean I couldn’t remember many things the
first thing is the question I’ve been
asked most frequently is how did you
become a Dean this was 1968
it was before the Equal Opportunities
Act it’s been passed my simple answer
was I picked up a friend of a friend and
tawny shades of airport in LaGuardia
Airport on the way to a party and she
said I’ve just been appointed Dean of
Jackson College what are you doing
before the ride was over she had asked
me to be assistant dean at Tufts
University actually was Jackson College
the women’s college of Tufts University
so that’s how I became a Dean by going
back to my childhood and a little
history about myself I grew up in Hawaii
the Hawaii of my childhood was
essentially a segregated Society
there were seven beauty queens one for
each race there were there was a Chinese
Methodist Church a Japanese Methodist
Church a Korean Methodist Church enim
Methodist Church for whites and also if
we look at the chamber of commerce
it was a white Chamber of Commerce or
Chamber of Commerce for whites
for Chinese another chamber commerce for
the Japanese another chamber of commerce
for the Chinese and another chamber
commerce for let’s say Chinese Japanese
Koreans so we really were in fact a
segregated society furthermore I went to
the public schools in the neighborhood
in my neighborhood I looked at my
graduation picture in the 6th grade
and I was one of well there I was one of
four percent Asians in my class at a
time with it
Asian population in Hawaii was eighty
percent Asian I can’t say it really was
not a segregated Society so moving fast
forward to 1968 when I was had picked up
Tony shades and became a Dean this
question I’ve been most frequently asked
was what was life what was life like as
a game what was it like to me again in
the 60s you remember the sixties when
the divorce rates were run running high
and students in one stay in school the
Vietnam War was on there were the
children of the greatest generation the
children Martin Luther King’s generation
and they were not what you would call
Placid students there’s also something
new had been added to the list of joy
joy like drinks we now had LSD on campus
we had marijuana to add to alcohol there
was a high demand for co-ed dorms we
Tufts was the first one to have a cord
dorm funded by the United States
government but that moves us into
another phase when the big issues on
campus was the construction of a new
dorm the new dorm was along with two of
the projects of Brandeis and Harvard
University brought the students out on
mass because they found out that well 30
million dollars was gonna be spent on
these projects
the United States government contracts
in those days did not have a Fair
Employment clause this is 25 years after
World War two that’s a quarter of a
century and the contracts building
contracts in Boston did not allow
minority workers so the students at
Harvard Brandeis and tough decide to go
on a strike
they did two nights before the strike
the Afro Society stopped talking to the
administration this required on campus I
walked around to all the Jackson dorms
and said we’re not sure what’s going to
happen but we just want you to be calm
and everything will be fine I got back
home told my children if I’m not here
I’m okay I’ll be somewhere on campus and
I went to bed with my fully dressed in
my suit that lasted for about 15 minutes
I heard shouts and screams got a call
from the President’s House what’s going
on I said it’s a panty raid
it’s a what it’s a panty raid
well this question was what are they
shouting they’re shouting we want silk
that went out world war two yes but they
probably learned it from their fathers
the next day the strike was on it was a
very rainy wet day the black students
were out the white students were out to
protect the black students the faculty
was out Allen was out there with some
young faculty members I want to tell you
a story about a lawman when L was in
World War two he headed a peaky sorry
landing craft boat that is one that
takes the troops ashore
it was d-day and it was his job to get
the troops ashore when he got to shore a
lot of the younger guys
want to get off the landing craft and he
had two urgent
after all they looked around they saw
these dead bodies floating having
gunfire he had to go back and get more
troops so the troops had gone ashore
this time he was going to have a lot of
assistance and he did in the way of
other young faculty members
well it really rained that day after
marks the strike was called off and the
result was that these thirty million
dollar contracts at Harvard Brandeis
said cuffs
brought to Tufts to plumbers and to to
tradesmen I can’t remember what they did
and that was what the gain was that was
but the whole strike was about today I’m
going to speak a little more about black
students and white colleges because of
the what’s currently happening what was
their experience like for most students
in America I think morning schools
anyway boarding colleges their
experience with black students as a way
of living with them was quite different
from going to maybe going to school with
them even that was rare in the sixties
for black and white students at at Tufts
University and it’s the only place I can
talk about the experience buried some
black white students roommates got along
very well others didn’t but they were
very polite and they just separated
others had a pretty rough time in one
case and in one dormitory the students
wouldn’t nobody would live with the
white a white student she’d been so
nasty to her roommate and so we had a
mover out of the dorm and let me tell
you some of the things that happen it
was not unusual for a black student to
be a town or white student say can I see
your hands
why are they so white why they black on
the other side can I check your hair how
do you comb your hair how do you work
the coin washing machines we always had
our own at home
assuming that of course the black
students never had washing machines at
home after two years a group of 12 black
students came to see me and said could
we have a set of rooms through ourselves
and I said well there’s the Afra house
where you could live no we don’t want to
live in the house but we would like a
place where we could be together I said
you have to ask the Housing Group this
move of students after the freshman year
was decided by a group of upperclassmen
after a three-hour debate they did allow
these students to move into a section of
their own I did have one black student
who finally quit and said I’m leaving
I’m tired of being Whitey’s play school
toy and she rejoined the Alvin Ailey
Dance Group I give that as an as an
insight as to what really happens in a
university dormitory let’s see what
other stories have I got to tell you as
we as we move on at this particular
point I think it’s important to see that
not having the top universities and
colleges in this country and that I’m
talking about the 29 that New York Times
identified not having them increase the
number of black students in the third of
the century it’s kind of a disgrace and
I’ll end up with a story of Helen Keller
when I was a little girl actually in the
fifth grade Helen Keller came to Hawaii
my fifth-grade teacher pushed me in
front of Helen Keller and said here’s a
little Korean girl and out came this
hand and his hands like tentacles went
over my face and I always wondered what
did she see what did she feel how did
you know who I was Helen Keller too
smiled at me and I I thought about a
great deal and then realized one day
that it was it was a matter of having no
eyes have you no eyes was a phrase that
my family used constantly it was so what
sociologists are psychologists say a way
of controlling behavior have you no eyes
can’t you see the situation and so the
term have you no eyes is a very common
phrase in my my time have you no eyes so
I say to the new generations to the more
than the twenty nine colleges and
universities have you no eyes thank you
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