Dancing to the Convention Tune 121
announcing the decision, Judge Olive said that the board "wishes to
make it clear that we are not acting in a spirit of defiance. We are
charged with the welfare of the students and have sought to use our
best judgment. We do not interpret our action as a change of policy
and we expect to present a full report to the convention meeting."
Toward that end Carlyle le and his committee were asked to continue
their work.
The public controversy was stilled neither by the trustees' reasoning
nor by the will of the students' parents. Bitter attacks were launched
against the college, and when the outcry became clamorous the Wake
Forest trustees along with the Meredith College trustees, who had also
approved dancing, met with the General Board of the Baptist State
Convention in Raleigh on October 31. There they adopted a joint
statement in which they agreed to "suspend without prejudice" their
earlier action on the dancing issue.
Dr. Broach, who had been on Carlyle's committee, said the
agreement was merely a "change of tactics" by which the governing
bodies hoped to pick up support for their position at the Baptist State
Convention scheduled to meet in Raleigh November 19 through 21.
"We have not rescinded anything," Broach said.
Irving Carlyle stuck to his guns. In advance of the convention
debate he said, "We are living in a changing world and we can't
operate our schools and colleges according to the rules of tradition
alone. It [the dancing question] will come up again if it doesn't pass."
Dr. David Smiley, a popular Wake Forest history professor and
Sunday School teacher, who was to be retained by the convention to
write its latter-day history, lamented that the Baptists of North
Carolina were dissipating their energies on an "archaic" issue. "We
should struggle with the application of Christian ethics to an industrial
community," he said. "We should confront the fact that man has the
material power to destroy life on this planet, and the voice of
Christian conscience is almost unheard; we should realize that the
dark-skinned peoples of the world are toiling in revolt and we largely
ignore the Golden Rule. In the light of these challenging problems our
debate over dancing makes us appear ridiculous."
Increasingly it had become obvious to the friends of Wake Forest
that dancing was not an isolated issue, that at the convention the
deeper contention would be the question of control of the college.
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