Happy 100th Birthday To Indiana Wesleyan University (aka — Marion College) Part I

This week I received in the mail a tony self-congratulatory brochure from my Alma-Mater; Indiana Wesleyan University. When I graduated there in 1982 they called it “Marion College,” but having vastly upgraded since my days on campus they renamed it “Indiana Wesleyan University,” in 1989. The campus I attended looks very little like the campus that exists today.

I thought that since the College Newspaper once quoted the 1982 Dean of Students to the end that I was, “The most responsible student on campus” I would give a few recollections of my time at Marion College.

I showed up on the fall of 1977 and attended for two years and then sat out for 9 months and earned some money and returned and finished in 1982. Freshman initiation was a pretty big deal in 1977. It was a bit of a culture shock. I remember a Sioux Indian student having to do a rain dance on the dining room table during the student meal as part of his freshman initiation. I remember young ladies being led around on dog leashes and carrying doggy dishes in their mouths. I remember guys having to wear make up and doll up like a woman. Clearly, in 1977 the world had not yet become “Woke,” at Marion College.

The brochure I received in the mail tried to suggest that Marion College / Indiana Wesleyan University has always been a place where one can find diversity. That claim however, is merely window dressing for the political correct. Oh sure, there were a handful of non-Caucasians that went through the turnstiles over the years but when I was there I calculated that roughly .3% of the students and none of the faculty were non-Caucasians. At that time it remained a “school” that was for the children of the Wesleyan faithful. There is nothing wrong with that but diversity was hardly a definitional staple of Marion College. It is disappointing to me that Bitch-goddess of political correctness has so raised its presence that the University now has to reinterpret its past in order to satisfy the lusts of that goddess.

I was not ready for the College experience when I first arrived at Marion College. I was not a good student until my final couple of years there and it revealed itself in my grades. I was pretty good at the memorization and spit back part of the educational process but absorbing the conceptual, theological, and ideological aspects of a good education took some time. Because of this I was a gadabout always chasing whatever “exciting” that was happening, and in Marion, Indiana there were never much exciting happening.

My first year there found me ready to quit because my academic performance was so bad. I remember before an exam in a basic US history course I told the Lord Christ in my praying that I was leaving if I didn’t score at least a “C” on the looming exam. My score on that test was so dismal that I was ready to pack up and go home but when I compared my score to the posted key my score fell in the “C” category. The professor had graded on a curve and though my score was dismal it still was in the “C” range when compared to the other Freshman dismal scores. I took this as a kind of fleece and resolved to press on. I’d like to say that my grades got instantly better but that would be varnishing history.

On the whole, to this day, I have found Wesleyans to be a kind people unless you start picking at their woeful theology. Most of the people I stumbled across at Marion College were kind people coming from homes where their kind-hearted parents had raised them to be kind-hearted people. My peers were very generous with their time and resources. There were many invitations to visit student homes and meet the families of my fellow students.

The Marion Campus was tiny in 1977. There was one “Science” building where most the classes were held. A smattering of classes would also be held in the Administration building, the McCann Chapel, the Library, and even in College Wesleyan Church on campus. Beyond those buildings there was the Baldwin Dining Hall and the three residences for the young ladies (Bowman, Shatford, and Teeter) as well as the one resident building for the men, “Williams Hall.” I don’t remember there being a three to one advantage of women to men but that is the way the on campus resident facilities worked. There were also sundry on-campus housing units. There was also a building they called a “gym.” It was the most ram-shackled thing you could possibly imagine and yet it seemed there was always a pickup game of some sort going on. I actually have some fond memories of the competition that I was involved in, in that falling down old building. I spent too much time there instead of being in a Library or at my desk studying.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the students were required to attend chapel at 10:00 am. After doing that for about 3 months I had decided that was enough and so decided that I would not be attending chapel in the future. (That decision came back to haunt me as I was eventually required to do chapel purgatory before I would be allowed to graduate a few years later.) A litany of more boring Chapel speakers three times a week one could not possibly imagine. My most vivid memory of chapel was when the College brought a Black Pentecostal choir into sing for the student’s pleasure and suddenly one of the choir members was slain in the spirit. Now, I had never even heard of being slain in the spirit before and after witnessing that I was sure that I never wanted to see such a spectacle again. First she began to jumping preternaturally and eventually as she heated up jumping became running in place and running in place became running out of the building. I was standing in the foyer when all this was going on and witnessed some burly guy who was with the Church choir tackle the excited but slight young woman. The burly chap acted as if he was trying to hold down a Mexican jumping bean and by my observations it didn’t look like he was having much success. That was my first up close exposure to Pentecostalism. The things you learn at college chapel.

A second memory I have of Chapel was the incredible circus like ability of Jeff Holloway to be able to sleep during chapel. Jeff, as seated in one of those hard pews, would lean back and with a hymn book wedged between one knee and the pew in front of him, he would situate himself so that he could fit another hymn book as wedged between his neck and the back of the pew and in that position the man would get an hour of shut eye. It was an amazing skill and to this day I wished I had gotten a photo. Such balance and skill was a marvel to behold. I tried it more than once but I think Jeff was taller than me and so it worked for him and was only a frustration to me.

One more memory of chapel was the polyester “Amen” corner who sat in the front right of the sanctuary. They were called the polyester “Amen” corner because they were comprised of the ministerial students who, unlike the rest of us dregs, did not wear jeans, but instead decked themselves out in only the finest of polyester pants. They would sit up in that corner and like birds chirping on a electrical wire could be counted on making a funny clicking noise with their mouth followed by an exuberant, “AMEN.” When they really got going it sounded like hail on a tin roof. Ministerial students at Marion College were a sui-generis group. We will have more to say of them before this Centennial Celebration reminiscing is finished.

The man who ran the Dining Hall was a man named John Harsha. John cared about the students under his watch and did his best to provide decent food. (I wish I could say he always succeeded … but hey, institutional food in that epoch was what it was.) John was the head of something they called “SAGA” at the time. It was an obvious acronym the true meaning of which I have long forgotten. However, the students fondly said it stood for, “Soviet Attempt to Gag Americans.” Who knew the Cold War extended even to our dining hall? The College dining experience then isn’t like what you find today at Universities. Today, at many Universities, one can pretty much come and go as they like with a Cafeteria that is open 24-7, and even largely order their own meal. At Marion College in 1977 there were three meals a day and they ran a very precise eating schedule. I remember that breakfast was from 0700-0800. I remember because I don’t think I ate three breakfast meals in the 4 years I attended. Neither did many other folks. You could tell who the academic geeks were on Campus by going to breakfast because all 20-30 of them would be there every morning. Everyone else had enough sense to still be sleeping.

The Dining hall, when full, could get pretty uproarious. Upon entering one had to be immediately aware of the danger of flying ice cubes. No meal was satisfactory unless you were getting pelted with ice. But ice was pretty mild compared to the food fights that would occasionally break out. No one has dined well until they have had to duck a generous portion of flying tapioca headed in their direction. There was always the loud invective that could be heard being shouted across the dining hall as one student at one end of the dining hall would remonstrate with another student at the other end of the dining hall. One of my favorites was hearing Randy Sexton admonish Carl Flickinger to “Go gargle some broken glass Carl.” Then there was the splattered pizza on the Mirrors in the men’s Dining Hall restroom. (No, John, I never did that.) Upon entering the restroom the first thing that would go through one’s mind was, “What is there pizza doing on the mirror?” After awhile “pizza on the mirror” became as common place in the restroom as the paper towel dispenser. Indeed, so accustomed did I become to pizza on the bathroom mirror that I began to notice it missing in my home bathroom mirror after I graduated. The guys who had to clean up that mess every time pizza was served should have gotten all their meals for free. Dining at Marion College was not merely a epicurean experience. No, it was full on live roadhouse entertainment.

Next entry — Living In Williams Hall

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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