Annual Report on Student Life at Westhampton College

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Annual Report on Student Life at Westhampton College


The Westhampton College Dean of Students, Clara M. Keith, submitted this annual report on student life to the Dean of Westhampton College, Dr. Mary Louise Gehring, and President George Modlin for the 1969-1970 school year. This report was unique because there was apparently a dramatic shift in Westhampton College student life with the students' lifestyle, attitude, and mood resulting in a sudden change in the "traditional boundaries of education." Students were demanding autonomy in areas such as sex, drinking, parietal hours, and self-government. Dean Keith claimed that the students wanted the faculty and staff to care about them but not to let this concern turn into taking over the students' lives. There had been more open conversations "about sex and less promiscuity," but the Dean believed that the students were still ignorant of the dangers of drinking and venereal disease. The students also demanded more individualization of the learning process, including more freedom to choose their own courses. For the next portion of the report, Dean Keith described some of the subcultures she had noticed: the change conformer, absurd plastic hippies, and the system dissenters. The "change conformers" were "straight, mostly middle-class students acting out of the permissive ideology of their parents." They wanted curriculum change and more self-government immediately however within this group some students were more radical than others. The "absurd plastic hippies" "put on their wigs, beads, and perspiration stained Levis." These students experimented with drugs like LSD but only less than 1% were drug users. The "system dissenters" were students who used "the dissent situation as a forum for (their) own inadequacies and is characterized by apathy, sham rebelliousness." They wanted immediate change and created chaos, and although there are only a few, "enough naive ones (could) be led along this path." Dean Keith concluded this report by offering her concerns with the lack of communication and competence with security. Therefore, she suggested that a Security Officer be appointed.



Annual Report on Student Life at Westhampton College, 04 May 1970, RG 6.2.4 Box 16 Folder 17, University Archives, Virginia Baptist Historical Society.









Richmond (Va.)

Text Item Type Metadata

Student Contributor



Keith, Clara M., “Annual Report on Student Life at Westhampton College,” University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, accessed April 20, 2024,