College Dating Policy Called Racist
Feb. 02, 1987
OWATONNA, Minn. (AP) _ A tiny, conservative Baptist college which discourages interracial dating is under investigation by the state Department of Human Rights following complaints from former students.
''From the college's inception (30 years ago), we had disallowed interracial dating,'' said Joseph Rammel, former president of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna.
Rammel, who resigned Jan. 1 after 17 years, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch that the school had reviewed its dating policy in recent years, but denied that the policy discriminated against black students.
Human Rights Department investigators opened the case in October when a woman graduate complained about the dating policy, the newspaper said.
The dating policy was cited by several black football players who said racism caused them to either quit the school or be expelled.
The departure of 20 black players at the end of the first semester in December leaves only three blacks on the 300-student campus: two football players and the sister of one team member.
In addition to enforcing the interracial dating policy, the players said, faculty members and administrators singled out black students for demerits more often than white students.
The school maintains a strict code of conduct and discipline for students. The dress code, for example, requires men to wear shirts and ties to class and women must wear skirts. Students are required to attend chapel every day, plus three services on Sundays. Failure to attend results in demerits, as does disobeying most rules.
Former players also said blacks were denigrated during campus chapel services, noting that a visiting minister once bragged from the pulpit that his church was so good it could ''even work with black students.''
Larry Courtney, the school's former football coach who began recruiting black athletes in 1985, agreed that black students had been singled out for comments.
''Some things were said from the pulpit that could be construed as having racial overtones,'' recalled Courtney, who said he resigned as coach Dec. 15 because football funding was cut. ''There were some things said that hurt the kids' feelings.''
Calvin Addison, a black former football player who was dating a white Catholic woman, was expelled in October after he received more than 150 demerits, the threshhold for expulsion. The expulsion was later changed to a withdrawal after he met with college officials.
Addison said he felt that his dating a white woman was responsible, at least in part, for the number of demerits he was given and for his expulsion.