"Quail Roost: Students, administrators see conference differently," February 6, 1974


"Quail Roost: Students, administrators see conference differently," February 6, 1974


In this February 6, 1974 Technician article by Howard Barnett, students and administrators detailed their thoughts about the "Student Affairs of Human Relations Conference" at the Quail Roost conference center only days eariler. While administrators believed the conference was nonproductive, many students reported the conference was a success. Student Body President Terry Carroll and Society of Afro-American Culture President Don Bell were among the students Barnett interviewed for the article.


Howard Barnett


Howard Barnett, "Quail Roost: Students, administrators see conference differently," Technician, Feburary 6, 1974.








A weekend conference between black and white student leaders and University Officials has drawn both criticism and praise from those involved. The conference, held at Quail Roose, near Durham, was sponsored by the Department of Student Development to help improve communications between blacks and whites on campus and to look at some of the problems faced by them.

Banks Talley, dean of Student Affairs, expressed disappointment in the way the conference turned out. “It certainly didn’t accomplish what we’d hoped it would,” he said. “They introduced some ideas, but mainly there was an awful lot of talk, and not enough done.”

Asked what was the blame for this, Talley replied, “I think that there were some black students who just didn’t come there to talk. There was a lot of yelling going on.”

Talley left after the first two sessions of the conference Saturday, a fact which drew some criticism from students. “I never intended to stay the night,” Talley explained. “I had Sunday commitments in church and in other places, and always intended to leave that night.”

During the conference, in response to requests by the black students, Talley reopened the question of the allocation of the Print Shop. Asked where the question would go from there, Talley said, “I just don’t know. I’m not exactly sure I understand all the things the black students wanted. Bu there isn’t any real hurry. We have plenty to time, while plans are being made. There’s no real emergency.”

John Poole, dean of Student Development, also felt the conference had not lived up to expectations. “It wasn’t quite as positive as I would have hoped,” he said. “I had hoped we would work more on communication and developing lines of communication between student groups, but instead we wound up discussing specific issues all the time. We had intended to go into specifics, but not that much. We would do that here on campus.”

Asked if he foresaw another such program in the future, Pool replied, “Student Development will not sponsor another one. Not this year, anyway. There is a possibility that some kind of conference on campus might be set up, but if you’re going to do that, there’s no reason to go to Quail Roost and spend $800.”

Dr. Augustus Witherspoon, an assistant professor of botany who also attended the conference, disagreed, however. “The meeting was a productive one,” he said. “There was a lot of people-to-people communication and understanding. I also think there will be solutions, because the basis of solutions is understanding.”

Witherspoon, who was in a difference conference “sub-group” than Talley, but in the same one with Poole, said he felt the students had conducted themselves “with dignity.” He added, “I’m not trying to say there was no emotionalism on the part of those there, but on the whole, in the group I was in, those present conducted themselves rationally and with understanding.”

Witherspoon also stressed the need for a black cultural center, which was one of the points brought out at the conference. “I think that this has been a very misunderstood concept,” he said. “Some people tend to confuse the idea of a black cultural center with a black student center. I’m totally against the idea of a black student center. We have a student center.”

“If you’re ever in a minority, though, and you never see anything you can look at and touch and which says, ‘This is me; this is a part of me,’ then this is bad. This is what the back student faces, because he has nothing to which he can relate directly, which states his culture and his experience. This is what the black cultural center should be about, to give the black student something to which he can relate personally.”

He added that white students, as well as blacks would benefit from the center. “If white kids don’t know what black men contributed to this country, and the part they played and still play in this society, then they are missing a part of American history, of their history. I think this hurts the white kids as well as the black kids.”

Students at the meeting generally agreed the meeting had been a good one, in contrast to the view of the administrators present. Don Bell, president of the Society of Afro-American Culture (SAAC), was cautiously optimistic.

“I think that at least one positive thing came out of the meeting,” he said, “and that was a better understanding of some specific issues and facts behind why some black students wanted to develop a black cultural center, among other things.”

“I also think that at least one more positive thing came out of it. That would be if, based on that understanding of facts, white students can act in a way that reflects that understanding.”

He added, “There are some white students who can and will understand black students, but if they can’t, they have to realize that there is a difference, and that those differences are expressions of who black students are, and what their experiences have been, and you can’t expect those to be the same. What must be done is to recognize and respect those differences, and some to grips with why there is a difference.”

Asked if he thought other conferences of this type would be helpful in the future, Bell said, “Yes. In the long run, any communication you can have between two people, as long as both parties are there trying to listen, and trying to get some idea of what’s going on, then it will be good.”

He added that part of the misunderstanding between students was because of misrepresentation on the part of some administration people and some students. “For instance, out idea with the Print Shop was that we could use it for a black cultural center, and if any other groups want to use it, say for a dance or something, then they could. But the way it filtered down was the the black students wanted the whole Print Shop all to themselves.”

Commenting on the statement that too may specifics had been discussed, Bell said, “It was a misunderstanding of those specific things in the first place which caused a breakdown in communications.”

Student body president T.C. Carroll said, “I felt like the black students had a legitimate bitch. I personally got a much broader understanding of the situation.”

He added that he felt the meeting was “more a confrontation of students with administrators than a confrontation of blacks and whites.

He said, “I don’t think some of out administrators gave students credit for having enough sense to know what’s good for them.”

“I think the story about the blacks storming into the Chancellor’s Liaison meeting was grossly misrepresented,” Carroll added. “The Chancellor asked Bell to let me, Talley, Wright, and Pool stay, and he agreed to everybody but me. And to me, that is perfectly all right. I don’t dig on the whole student body going into the Chancellor’s office when I want to talk either. I certainly wasn’t offended.”

In conclusion, Carroll said, “I felt like some of the administrators wanted to have the conference on a philosophical level, and when it got down to the nitty-gritty, this was pretty obvious when they were not present the next day.”

Bernard Hayes, vice-president of the Student Center, thought “It was a pretty positive conference.” He added, “Once we finally settled down and emotions died down, it was productive.”

Hayes said it was no longer a question of racism on campus, but of education. “Most students and administrators I’ve talk to feel a need for education Student leaders on this campus need to get together more often,” he said.

“It’s out responsibility to use specifics,” said Hayes.” “The administration has been beating around the bush for too long. It was about time we tackled some of the problems here.

“I was very impressed with the black and white leaders there,” Hayes concluded. “I would like to commend the white leaders for their attitude. I think there is a little bit better understanding between black and white students. This should have been done long ago.”

Student Senate president Kathy Black said the conference was “very valuable,” and added, “We spun our wheels for the first day, but we really got things done after that.”

Black added that, because of the counselors brought in from St. Augustine College to help with the discussion, the meeting was probably intended to be structured and orderly. “This structure sort of fell apart,” she said, “and afterwards students got together on their own and talked. I do think a lot was accomplished.”

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Howard Barnett, “"Quail Roost: Students, administrators see conference differently," February 6, 1974,” The State of History, accessed May 20, 2024, https://soh.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/190.