The Young Men's Christian Association
Report Of The General Secretary
To the President of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute:
With the installation of the new officers of the Y. M. C. A. immediate plans were made for forming contacts with prospective students who were to enter in September. Names of new students were sent from the dean’s office to all the cabinet members, who wrote friendly letters of greeting and welcome to the incoming class. They were received as they arrived on the campus, every assistance possible was offered them in matriculation and in the discovery of their permanent living quarters. Moreover, the Y. M. C. A. cooperated with the college in its orientation program for freshmen. In order to create a Y. M. C. A. consciousness among freshmen, a cabinet of their own membership was formed, and it has functioned well as an integral part of the association.
It must be said with considerable regret that interest in Bible study was much less than usual during this college year. There was an average attendance of ten upperclassmen in a group under the leadership of Prof. C. H. Hamilton, who discussed for twelve or more Sundays the social implications of Christianity as it is related to industry, inter-racial understanding, attitudes and practices between men and women, and international affairs. In the freshman group, the secretary attempted to lead the ten or twelve students who regularly attended into an understanding of the social teachings of Jesus. Dr. W. E. Garnett assisted in the leadership in connection with the discussion of the social issues.
The Honorable William E. Sweet, former governor of Colorado, was our guest speaker January 12. His addresses on “A Valid Christianity for Today” and “Christian Implications of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact” were attended by audiences estimated at seven hundred each. February 23 to March 2 was set aside for religious emphasis. No effort was spared to enlist the churches as well as the personal service of the ministers and professors in a concerted endeavor to reach the entire community, in addition to the student body. Dr. Allyn K. Foster, traveling secretary of the Board of Education of the Northern Baptist Convention, did the preaching. His scholarly presentations of the relation of science to religion made him a welcome visitor to the classrooms. Besides addressing the students he made numerous addresses in the town. It would be difficult to evaluate the quality of this part of our program, but suffice it to say that literally scores of students and others told us that their lives would always be richer because of these meetings, so delightfully refreshing with their happy blending of intellectual sanity and emotional glow.
The final series of religious addresses was made by Dr. Sparks W. Melton, pastor of the Freemason Street Baptist Church of Norfolk. He spoke to the entire student body at assembly, and to numerous groups on the campus and in the town. His unusual winsomeness captured the admiration of students who regard his catholic conception of Christianity to be prophetic of the time which is already apparent on the religious horizon, when we shall concern ourselves more about the ethical teachings of Jesus than with the differences between creeds and church dogmas.
Twice each month vesper service has been held in the home of some Blacksburg friend. Around the fireside a litany of worship, designed expressly for students, was read as a part of a beautiful program of music and quiet meditation. One evening a delegation from Radford Teachers College led a vesper service in return for one presented at the Teachers College in the fall by a delegation from V. P. I.
Our customary service to the four Sunday Schools at Dowdy Town, Bargers, Coopers’ and Luster’s Gate has gone on constructively. Students, professors, and laymen from local churches have given unstintingly of their time in the improvement of this work among the people of these remote areas where local leadership is lacking. Toys, candies, gifts, and clothing were appropriately provided for all the members of these mission schools. A former member of the Blacksburg Hi-Y Club has been teaching the public school in the district near Newport, and on Sundays he has given his services freely as Sunday School teacher and preacher. The generosity of certain people in Blacksburg has made it financially possible to provide transportation for the workers in these mountain communities, while gifts of every sort from families of students have supplied needy people with provisions of clothing and other necessities during the severity of winter.
In the interest of the boys of Blacksburg, the Hi-Y and the Boy Scouts have been fostered by Christian students. At present there are about twenty high school juniors and seniors in the Hi-Y.
Increasingly the counselling service of the secretary becomes fascinating. It has taken these twelve years to establish a sympathetic understanding of students and their personal problems to the point where they are willing to repose in the secretary their most sacred confidences. Hardly a day passes but several students come seeking help in a struggle to emancipate themselves from some entangling difficulty. Their concerns are widely varied, ranging from financial worries to the most perplexing disturbances of the mind. We are convinced that the confessional offers a more potential opportunity for real Christian guidance than any other single phase of our program.
Two students, the hostess, and the secretary represented V.P.I. at the Southern Student Conference which was held at Blue Ridge last June. A new regulation of the war department does not allow junior cadets who are scheduled for R. O. T. C. camp to report ten days late, as was formerly the practice, and, consequently, there are few members of the junior class eligible for the Blue Ridge delegation. Other engagements of summer employment offered difficulties in the way of freshman and sophomores who were invited to go. More success attended our efforts to secure adequate representation at the faculty student conference which was held at Washington and Lee University in February, under the auspices of the Virginia Student Field Council. Altogether there were forty students, professors, pastors, and friends of the association who composed the V. P. I. delegation. Twenty students of the 1929-30 cabinet and the secretary were present at the Cabinet Training Conference which was conducted by the State Field Council at Camp Johnson near Salem the first week-end in May. It may be said of all these conferences that their greatest value lies in the inspiration of religious leaders who are usually selected because of their superior contribution to the development of Christian living, but there is also a distinct advantage which students and faculty alike realize from the mutual exchange of experience as they face common campus problems.
The conduct of an employment service for students has been a worthy experiment, because it has demonstrated the need of considerable attention to this aspect of our program, which has splendid possibilities for providing self-help for an increasing number of deserving students who find it difficult to finance their college requirements. It is estimated that earnings approximating a thousand dollars have been made possible to twenty-five or more students this year through the secretary’s office. If there were time and help available to exhaust the possibilities for student employment in the community, we believe that this service could be multiplied many times.
Through the medium of The Virginia Tech and our state newspapers, the Y. M. C. A. has enjoyed a generous share of publicity. Practically every event of public interest which the Y. M. C. A. has sponsored was announced through the columns of the press, and the alumni, as well as parents of the students, have occasionally commented favorably on the attractions that the association has brought to Blacksburg this year. A students’ handbook was also published and a thousand copies distributed to students, faculty, and friends of the institution.
During the course of the Watson survey, an actual count was made of all admissions to the Y. M. C. A. building, and it was discovered that 2,139 persons entered the building that week, which indicated an average daily use of the association building by 305 persons, most of whom were, of course, students. Since the reading room is often taxed beyond its capacity while students are released from duty, it is quite evident that the only reason there are not more students using the facilities of the building is the limited accommodations. The banquet room has been used very little this year by students for banquet purposes, but it has never been idle in serving them for meetings, orchestra practice, dramatic rehearsals, and smokers. The game room has not proved quite as popular this year as it formerly was, because of the bad repair into which the pool tables have fallen. The demand for games is apparently just as great among the students, but their patronage usually follows well-equipped recreation rooms.
The advent of the new dormitory for non-military students and the University Club for unmarried professors made a heavy draft on the occupants of the Y. M. C. A. dormitory, which, in turn, curtailed our revenue from the rental of bedrooms tremendously. Perhaps with the improvement of our living quarters we shall eventually recover patrons enough to warrant the continuance of this building service; otherwise it seems that the space could be put to more profitable use. Generally speaking, parlors, lobby, baths, auditorium, reading room, banquet room, and game room have been well used, and the students manifest continually their desire to have these facilities improved.
Mention should be made of the survey of the campus which was authorized by the advisory board at its last annual meeting. This analysis of the association program has been conducted since January, under the direction of Prof. Goodwin B. Watson of Columbia University, who has associated with him Mr. Harry Comer of the University of North Carolina, and Professors C. H. Hamilton, J. F. Watson, and E. C. Magill of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The survey involved no little labor. Practically every phase of college life was studied with reference to the association and its potential influence for Christianizing every relationship where students are involved. Great hope is entertained that the results of the survey will be productive of an enriched program and adequate facilities for its realization.
Supported by the active confidence of a magnificent body of students, encouraged by the cooperative spirit of a noble faculty, and trusted by an administration which commands our loyalty in the enviable business of building character, we have given ourselves with abandon to the creation of a spirit worthy of Him Whose we are and Whom we serve.
Paul N. Derring, General Secretary.