74
| the history of wake forest
Society was assigned lounge space in Kitchin House and given three
thousand dollars for furnishing the lounge and for organizing a
“Black Week” to be held during the spring term.
During February an unexpected crisis arose which was seriously
to affect race relations on the campus. Two black students3 were
accused of cheating and were sent to the Honor Council for trial.
One of them was found guilty (he was said to have cheated on an
hour test and on a final examination in a history class) after an
open trial lasting about eight hours, and he was suspended from
the College. The Afro-American Society argued that he did not get
a fair trial, and the Council’s verdict was appealed to the Executive
Committee of the faculty. The Executive Committee decided to
allow the student to remain in school on probation but specified
that he would be required to attend all his classes and that he would
have to get permission whenever he wished to leave campus during
the week. The sixteen members of the Honor Council, in a show
of unanimity, objected vehemently to the Committee’s action, say-
ing that it showed a “gross indifference” to the honor code, but the
student stayed in school and later received his degree.
The second student, charged with a similar offense, refused to
be tried by the Honor Council, saying that it would be impossible for
him to get a fair trial from the Council. He asked that his trial be
postponed until a new Council could be elected in the spring. The
Executive Committee thereupon suspended him from the College,
but he refused to leave the campus, and the Committee sought
successfully a temporary restraining order from a Superior Court
Judge. The student then withdrew, without ever having been tried.
On the grounds that the second student had not been treated
fairly by the University and that racist attitudes had affected the
outcome of the case, a group of students, both black and white,
organized to work toward a legal defense in behalf of the student.
Their efforts were in vain, however, and the student never returned
to the College. Unfortunately, a legacy of mistrust by black students
and their allies, as well as continuing confusion about the University’s
legal processes, remained to envelop both the Honor Council and
the Executive Committee. These lingering emotions delayed even
the best-intentioned efforts to bring racial harmony to the campus.
Neither alleged racism on the campus nor the war in Vietnam
attracted the whole-hearted attention of the student body that was
3
I have considered
it best not to include
in this history the
names of the students.
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