Monday, April 24, 2017

The History of UNCG’s May Day Tiara

*This blog was written by Salem Academy student Alexaya McKelvey as part of her January Term Internship with the University Libraries at UNCG.

May Day - the celebration of a new season for crops, new beginnings, and the crowning of spring royalty. In 1904, The State Normal and Industrial School, now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, held their first ever May Day celebration, which consisted of performances of Shakespearean plays, musical processions, and dancing around flower covered poles to merry music. These celebrations were important not only for the girls and women who gained confidence in their reenactments, but also for the surrounding community to see the range of talents possessed by the students of the state-sponsored college.

The May Day Tiara

As time passed, State Normal grew in number and size, and the school's administration decided to exclude some of the larger celebratory practices and focus their attention on exemplary girls within their college. The crowning of the May Day Queen became an important event starting in 1929, when the May Day festival became less centered on various plays and processionals and began to highlight the women who attended the prominent all-women’s college.

May Day Court, 1929

The archives possesses the first photograph depicting the May Day Queen and her ladies in waiting. She wears a crown of flowers, giving her an angelic and innocent styling that mirrored a bride preparing for her wedding with her bridesmaids. For the next four years, the Queen of the festival was named but did not wear a tiara. In 1934, a traditional flower crown was given. However, in both 1935 and 1936, a small embellished hat was given to the most important woman in the celebrations.

1940 May Day Queen, Virginia Ambrose
Finally, in 1940, the official May Day Queen Tiara was presented to a young woman who was meant to represent the best aspects of her sisters in her school - Virginia Ambrose. Though a few ladies chose to wear a flower crown in the next years, the tiara reappeared in 1947 and continued to be worn until the May Day celebrations cease to exist in 1955. The May Day tiara is now part of the University Archives Artifact Collection.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Warren Ashby

Warren Ashby was born in Newport News, Virginia on May 15, 1920. He received his Bachelors of Arts degree in English from Maryville College in 1939, his Bachelors of Divinity degree in Christian Ethics and Social Problems from Yale University in 1942, and his Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Religion and Philosophy, also from Yale, in 1947.

Ashby teaching, 1969
Ashby began his teaching career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947 before transferring to the Woman’s College (now UNCG) in 1949 to be an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy. Ordained as a Methodist minister, Ashby specialized in Western Ethics and was known to sometimes officiate wedding ceremonies for his students. In 1958, he was promoted to full professor. Following his interest in the life of UNC President Frank Graham, Ashby took a research leave from the college in 1960 to begin collecting materials for an upcoming biography.
Upon his return to Woman’s College in 1961, Ashby continued teaching in the Department of Philosophy. In 1966, he was appointed director of the UNCG honors program and would serve in that role until 1970 when he became the Director of the Residential College (later renamed in his honor in 2007). Ashby’s long standing service to the university was formally acknowledged in 1967 when he received the UNCG Alumni Teaching Excellence Award.  He was recognized again in 1982 with the Gladys Strawn Bullard Award which honors faculty and staff who have provided outstanding leadership and service to the university.

Along with his distinguished teaching career, Ashby was known as a leading advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in Greensboro. He often held group meetings at his house with students from Woman’s College, Greensboro College and Bennett College to discuss the current social and political climate. In 1955, when it was considered dangerous for a white male to speak out in favor of civil rights in the South, Ashby wrote a letter to the editor of the Greensboro Daily News strongly endorsing an integrated public education. That same year, Ashby led a “faculty council resolution” supporting desegregation of UNC campuses. In the 1960s, during Greensboro’s civil rights demonstrations, Ashby served on several biracial committees “seeking racial harmony in the city.” He continued to push for complete desegregation on the university level through the 1960s and 1970s. In 1971, he advocated for a quota system that would guarantee minority employment.

Dr. Warren Ashby died October 3, 1985.

Other notable accomplishments of Dr. Warren Ashby:

• Ford Fellowship for Princeton University in Hartford College (1952-1953)

• Consultant for the National Family Life Education Project (ASHA) (1953-1955)

• President of the Family Service-Travelers Aid Association of Greensboro (1958)

• Consultant/Associate Director for Southern Student Human Relations Summer Seminars at Ohio State University and the University of Illinois (1958-1959)

• Director of the International Conferences and Seminars program for Southern Asia in the International Affairs Divisions of the American Friends Service Committee (1964-1966)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fighting to Make a Statement: The Struggle for UNCG's Sexual Orientation Nondiscrimination Clause

68 page nondiscrimination petition with 1045 signatures signed
by UNCG faculty, staff, and students
In a 1992 The Chronicle of Higher Education article about campus climate for faculty, John D’Emilio, a UNCG faculty in the Department of History at the time, stated “I think it safe to say I’m the person on campus who is most openly gay. On a very personal level, it’s fine… But although there is not an overtly hostile climate, there’s not much of a welcoming climate either. Because, if there was, there would be more openly gay faculty members and the University would have certain policies it doesn’t have. There might be courses that don’t exist now. It would be nice to have a faculty and staff group. I don’t think nondiscrimination or benefits policies will be under discussion until a group forms.”[2]

It was not until four years later, in 1996, that the UNCG Faculty Senate would debate the inclusion of a nondiscrimination policy for the campus. Contrary to D’Emilio’s prediction, it was not an LGBTQ+ faculty group that would bring the issue before the faculty and the chancellor (Patricia Sullivan), but three students concerned with the state of equity on the campus. After the unanimous passing of a nondiscrimination clause by the UNCG Student Senate, three lesbian students, Alesha Daughtrey, Jessica Stine, and Mandy Vetter, approached the Faculty Senate in spring of 1996 to approve a similar nondiscrimination statement.[3]  Of the sixteen UNCG campuses, ten already had adopted policies of nondiscrimination against school employees and students by 1996.[4] As UNCG was known to be an LGBTQ+-friendly university, it was thought that the resolution would pass through the Faculty Senate with approval quickly, however, the subject proved to be to be too complex and too volatile to be accepted without conflict.

According to the News and Record, some faculty expressed homophobic apprehensions about what would happen to the University if a policy protected someone based on sexual orientation,

At least one professor who voted against the measure feared the term ‘sexual orientation’ could be interpreted to include people with deviant sexual habits, such as pedophiles. Another professor said it could force the university to set up a quota system for hiring gays and lesbians” and that the policy was “unjustifiable, unworkable, [and] illegal.”[5]

UNCG Faculty Senate Chair, Charles Tisdale, who was reported as one of the few faculty members voting in support of a nondiscrimination policy, responded to such remarks, saying, “Nobody wants to face the moral issue, so they use the legal issue as a smoke screen.”[6]

Certainly, the potential legal ramifications of adopting a nondiscrimination policy based on sexual orientation, as described by the University Counsel of the time Lucien Capone III, were substantial. In a letter to Charles Tisdale, Capone states, “I want to reiterate at the outset that I personally support the notion that we ought not discriminate against anyone simply because of his or her sexual orientation. Rather, my concern is for the unintended consequences that may result if we attempt to formalize the philosophy into legally enforceable policies.”[7] There were two legal arguments brought to attention. One of the consequences Capone foresaw was that if the university created a policy protecting a classification of people not recognized by federal or state statutes, other groups with non-protected status could demand special treatment by UNCG.[8] At the Faculty Senate hearing for a nondiscrimination policy, Capone mentioned that the elevation of a non-protected group, such as one based on sexual orientation, might lead to such groups as “the KKK, skinheads, Nazis” or even smokers petitioning for special protection on campus.[9]  

Additionally, Capone argued that setting a policy protecting people based on sexual orientation may result in the University having to offer domestic partnership benefits. As gay and lesbian marriage was illegal at the time, University Counsel feared having a sexual orientation nondiscrimination policy would force UNCG to offer spousal benefits to “domestic partnerships [which] have no legal status leaving the University in a nether world of practically unanswerable questions.”[10]

When asked about Capone’s legal concerns relating to the implementation of a nondiscrimination policy, UNC System legal counsel, Richard Robinson, felt the arguments were alarmist. In relation to the potential for a gay and lesbian hiring quota, UNC Counsel argued that a nondiscrimination policy is not the same as an affirmative action policy, posing no threat to interfering with faculty recruitment. Robinson maintained that although any given group may ask for special treatment from a faculty senate or chancellor, no college or university could be forced to accept a policy for a non-state or federally protected group. Finally, on the subject of partnership benefits, “That kind of benefit-sharing is based on marital status, and as long as state law limits that kind to spouses then that really takes it off the screen.”[11]

After two failed votes by the UNCG Faculty Senate, James V. Carmichael Jr., Professor in the Library and Information Studies Department and member of the Equal Opportunity – Intergroup Relations Committee, presented the revised proposal for a non-legally binding anti-discrimination statement to UNCG Faculty Senate on November 2, 1996. Carmichael provided remarks in the stead of Novem Mason, Chair of the Committee, as Mason and Carmichael agreed that it was appropriate, “since I [Carmichael] am a gay faculty member… who called this perhaps the most significant even in the history of the university over the past 20 years.”[12] Carmichael, one of the few “out” faculty at UNCG at the time noted in his remarks,

While I am tenured, I know many faculty members who still feel threatened… For these individuals, silence and assimilation represent the better part of wisdom, and perhaps they are right… But stoicism has its perils, too… I urge the Senate to pass this proposed statement not only for the self-interest of a largely invisible minority, but so that this university may go on record as a leader in sensitivity to human rights. Given our history as a women’s institution, we should foster tolerance with adamant conviction.”[13]

Supporting Carmichael’s remarks, Joy Brown, an undergraduate student in the Department of Social Work, provided remarks and presented a sixty-eight page petition with 1045 signatures of UNCG faculty, staff, and students who supported the resolution. Brown was moved to begin this petition process after reading a News and Record article about the debacle, being, “shocked and embarrassed that the university that I take so much pride in would turn its back on guaranteeing the rights of some of its students.”[14]

After two previous attempts, a statement of nondiscrimination was voted in favor of unanimously by the Faculty Senate. It was approved by Chancellor Sullivan by the end of November 1996. Regarding this non-binding statement, Seth Tezyk, head of UNCG’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Association remarked, “I think it was a relief to pass it and say, ‘OK, let’s get our foot in the door.”[15] The nondiscrimination statement stands today, unchanged from its 1996 introduction, though state and federal conditions have changed for the LGBTQ+ communities. The North Carolina state health plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield began offering coverage for same-sex couples and all domestic partners as of 2014, and on June 26, 2015 the US Supreme Court ruled gay marriage was constitutionally protected, affording the potential for additional spousal benefits to the UNCG community. With the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement has made definitive progress, far beyond the putting “our foot in the door” of 1996.         

[1] Tarm, Michael. “Gay rights organizations hail court ruling as ‘game changer’.” AP News, 5 April, 2017, Accessed 5 April, 2017.
[2] Mooney, Carolyn J. “Gay men and lesbians talk about campus climate.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23 Sept. 1992, p. A19.
[3] Carmichael, James V. Remarks by James V. Carmichael (Former Member, Equal Opportunity/Intergroup Relations Committee), November 6, 1996, p.1.
[4] The nondiscrimination policies across the ten institution were difference in format and none were legally binding. Six of the schools had policies/statements implemented by their Faculty Senate and four with a Chancellor’s statement.
Myers, Jane. "Memorandum: Resolution for Revision of UNCG's Non Discriminatory Policies and Practices." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina. (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject file)
[5] McMurtrie, Beth. “UNCG balks at sex-orientation policy.” Greensboro News and Record, 6 Oct. 1996, p. B1.
[6] Ibid,
[7] Capone, Lucien III. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, p. 1 (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject File)
[8] Capone, Lucien III. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, p. 3 (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject File)
[9] McMurtrie, Beth. “UNCG balks at sex-orientation policy.” Greensboro News and Record, 6 Oct. 1996, p. B1.
[10] Capone, Lucien III. "Sexual Orientation Discrimination." Letter to Charles Tisdale. 27 Sept. 1996. MS. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina, p. 3 (from UNCG Archives Sexual Orientation Subject File)
[11] McMurtrie, Beth. “UNCG balks at sex-orientation policy.” Greensboro News and Record, 6 Oct. 1996, p. B1.
[12] Carmichael, James V. Remarks by James V. Carmichael (Former Member, Equal Opportunity/Intergroup Relations Committee), November 6, 1996, p.1.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Brown, Joy. “[Remarks], November 6, 1996, p.1
[15] Associated Press. “Not binding in hiring; UNCG senate backs homosexual rights.” Star-News (Wilmington, NC), 8 Nov. 1996, p.6B.

Monday, April 3, 2017

His Name Was Kenneth Crump, a UNCG LGBT+ Special Post

The Carolinian. Dec. 2, 1982, p. 1
There are many rumors and urban legends relating to the history of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Along this line, you may have heard someone mention that a student committed suicide by jumping from the ninth floor of the Jackson Library tower. This is neither a rumor nor an urban legend. A UNCG student did jump to his death from the tower early one morning in 1982. His name was Kenneth Crump.

Kenneth Graham Crump was a twenty-one year old freshman at the time of his death. He lived in Strong Dormitory, although his family lived close to Greensboro, residing off of Sandy Ridge Rd in Hickory, North Carolina. There is no photograph of Kenneth in the student yearbook or The Carolinian, but he was described as being a small, young man, weighing roughly between 120 to 140 pounds. He was a dance major, and according to his ballet instructor, “Kenny was a hard worker and seemed to be a natural dancer.”[1] Kenneth’s roommate described him as a lover of “opera, ballet, and French horn, which he played.”[2] Few people on campus knew Kenneth personally, but he was known to have a circle of friends off campus.

Kenneth shattered the glass from the Elliott University Center-facing window, near the elevators, on the ninth floor of the Jackson Library tower around 1:00 am, Monday November 22, 1982 and jumped to his death. His body was discovered by custodian, William Peters, who found Kenneth asleep on a sofa on the seventh floor of the tower shortly after midnight. Kenneth awoke and spoke for a few minutes with Peters until he excused himself to go to the restroom. It was not until Peters went to the ninth floor that he found the broken window and looked out to see Kenneth’s body lying below.

The Carolinian and the News and Record described Kenneth as being psychologically ill, in addition to being stressed from financial problems. In the three sentence announcement of Kenneth’s suicide that was published in The Carolinian ten days after his death, the writer mentions that Kenneth “…was under doctor’s care for apparent emotional problems.”[3] The News and Record provides more detail, reporting that Kenneth’s father said his son was being treated for psychiatric problems and that Kenneth was worried about being able to afford remaining enrolled at UNCG because of money issues.[4]

The Student Government Association Senate requested additional funds from the state to support UNCG’s Counseling Center after Kenneth’s death. The idea for the resolution was submitted by Pat Richardson, the senator for Strong Dormitory.[5] Interestingly, although the media portrayed Kenneth’s suicide as being the result of some form of psychiatric disorder that could have been treated through counseling, Rev. Joseph Flora (pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro and faculty sponsor for the Gay Student Union), asserted in an article responding to the initiative to improve the counseling center after Kenneth’s death, “Yes, we definitely need more staff for our counseling and testing center… Yet, we must be aware that the death of Kenneth Crump was not related to this problem.”[6]

In the “Letters to the Editor” section of the issue of The Carolinian mentioning Kenneth’s death, Lesa Y. Williams, a UNCG student and friend of Kenneth, asserted that the reason for Kenneth’s despondency and consequent suicide was that he was being bullied by residents of Strong Dormitory for being gay. She stated, “He lived in Strong dorm and some of the guys who stay there were glad that Kenneth was dead! Kenneth’s sexual preference was different from theirs, so they were delighted that he had jumped from the library.”[7] Presumably in protest of Williams’ perspective (as it does not specifically mention Kenneth or a suicide), the letter immediately following was signed by a list of male residents from Strong Dormitory and maintained, “We do not live in ‘Hell Dorm.’ We haven’t lived there for years. We appreciate publicity as well as good fiction. We do not care for lies, liars, exaggeration, innuendos or muckraking journalism. This is the word of one hundred good men.”[8]

From 1979 through the early 1980s, Strong Dormitory held a reputation as an unsafe residence hall for LGBTQ+ students. Only three years prior to Kenneth’s death, the dormitory was the site of a hundred person protest during which masked students setting off firecrackers gathered in the courtyard in front of the residence hall, waving protest posters, and shouting slogans such as, “Queers, Fags Go Home,” “We Are Men, We Are Men, We Are Men,” and “Dames Not Flakes.” The protest was held because the graduate counselor for Strong Dormitory, concerned about repeated reports of homophobic harassment in the dormitory, organized an educational seminar focusing on homosexuality for students. One of the two speakers at this seminar, titled “Homosexuality and Society,” was Rev. Joseph Flora.

Tragically, little memory remains of Kenneth Crump on the UNCG campus, aside from the whispers one hears that someone may or may not have committed suicide by jumping off the Jackson Library tower. The only memorial to Kenneth’s life or death on this campus are the thick, wooden rails blocking the plexiglas windows of the Jackson Library tower.

[1] Allen, Leslie and Mark MacDonald. “Student, 21, Dead after Fall from Library,” Greensboro News and Record. November 23, 1982, p. A2.
[2] Allen, Leslie and Mark MacDonald. “Student, 21, Dead after Fall from Library,” Greensboro News and Record. November 23, 1982, p. A2.
[3] “Student Jumps from Library,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.1.
[4] Allen, Leslie and Mark MacDonald. “Student, 21, Dead after Fall from Library,” Greensboro News and Record. November 23, 1982, p. A1.
[5] Alexander, David. “Senate Seeks Finds for Counseling,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.1.
[6] Flora, Joseph and Jon Hensley. “Something to Be Learned,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.2.
[7] Williams, Lesa Y. “Letters to the Editor,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.2.
[8] One Hundred Good Men. “Letters to the Editor,” The Carolinian. December 2, 1982, p.2