The Young Men's Christian Association
Report Of The General Secretary
To the President of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute:
The Y. M. C. A. program for 1930-31 was initiated during the summer, when the cabinet members wrote letters of greeting to prospective freshmen. When the freshmen arrived in Blacksburg, in September, many of the cabinet members were here to extend the first personal welcome which was accorded to the new students. Each new man was presented with a Y. M. C. A. Handbook. A close cooperation with the administration was observed in arranging and carrying out a program of orientation for freshmen.
There was a decided improvement in attendance at the Sunday afternoon discussion groups. For two terms an average weekly attendance of forty students seemed keenly interested in the consideration of both the personal approach to God and the social implications of Christianity.
Alternating with the regular cabinet meetings, vespers have been held twice each month during the college session. Apparently, these fireside vespers give the thoughtful student just the kind of thing he often craves as he feels the need of quiet, thoughtful meditation and worship. Usually these services have been conducted by local ministers, or students and professors. Sometimes they were held in the homes of faculty and friends in the town, and at other times in the lounge of the Y. M. C. A. building. Attendance varied from thirty to forty persons except on special occasions when visiting speakers were present, and then audiences often numbered as high as 200.
The college auditorium having been commandeered for additional dining hall facilities, and the weekly hour for college assembly having been removed from the schedule, no opportunity has been left for official convocation of students. Consequently, a readjustment had to be made in the presentation of visiting speakers. In most cases, speakers who have been invited to the campus this year have been accorded the class hour by a number of professors. Dr. John R. Hart, Episcopal student pastor at the University of Pennsylvania, brought to the campus a series of challenging messages on “A Valid Christianity for the College Athlete.”
The Y. M. C. A. held its biennial institute of Christian World Education, which was part of a state-wide program sponsored by the Council of Christian Associations for the colleges of Virginia. Dr. Edmund D. Lucas, president of Forman College in the Punjab of India, interpreted the political unrest of India; progress in interracial relations was discussed by Dr. Robert Eleazer of the Southern Inter-racial Commission; while the present situation in the Philippines was described by a native of the Islands, Matias Cuadra, who is now a traveling secretary of the Student Volunteer Movement. Dr. Harry Laidler and Dr. Helen Hill Miller, representing the League for Industrial Democracy and work for women in industry, respectively, spoke on present trends in the economic situation. Edmund Chaffee, director of the Labor Temple in New York City, described the present unemployment situation and its effects upon the laborer in the United States, leaving to Claud Nelson, Southern regional secretary of the student Y. M. C. A., a consideration of the part students may have in developing a conscious world brotherhood. Dr. English Bagby, head of the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina, spoke to the faculty about “Worries Among Undergraduates” and to the students on “Locked-in with Emotion.” Dr. George Carver, a great Negro chemist, spoke to three large audiences during his visit.
The Blacksburg chapter of the Association of University Women and the Y. M. C. A., jointly, presented Francis P. Miller, chairman of the World’s Student Christian Federation. Since this was a program of internationalism, Mr. Miller directed the thinking of his hearers “Toward the Brotherhood of Nations.” The Y. M. C. A. was responsible for a special musical feature when the Negro quartet from Hampton Institute offered an unusual program of spirituals.
One professor, his wife, and three students represented the association at the Southern student conference at Blue Ridge, North Carolina. Dr. C. M. Newman and the secretary attended the national student-faculty conference in Detroit, and thirty-five students and professors attended the Virginia student-faculty conference at William and Mary College. Fifteen members of the cabinet went to the cabinet training conference at Camp Johnson, near Salem. J. H. Bailey, W. W. Eure, and the secretary represented the association at the fall meeting of the Virginia student field council in Lynchburg.
Supervision of the Hi-Y Club in the Blacksburg High School has been continued throughout the school year. Cadet W. W. Eure has been in charge of this work, and, although he reports a decline in interest among the boys this year, it is believed that the club has possibilities of becoming a valuable asset to the school in moulding character. An affiliation with the Blacksburg Community Federation and the Blacksburg Lions Club enabled us to organize the underprivileged boys of the town into a club which has for its purpose the enrichment of boy life and the development of Christian character. Cadets Paul Rose and Allen Moore have directed this undertaking with very satisfactory results. These students have directed the gang spirit into wholesome channels of recreation and manual training. Every encouragement has been offered by the Y. M. C. A. to promote the efficient work of the Blacksburg boy scout troops. Students have been enlisted to help as assistant scout masters. Six or more students and professors took the training course for scout masters which was offered here by the district scout executive, in the Y. M. C. A. building.
Student leadership has been provided for the four Sunday schools at Dowdy Town, Bargers, Coopers, and Lusters Gate. In addition to the Sunday services, which have been held regularly except during the winter months when the weather was unfavorable. Christmas entertainments were arranged for the children, and ample provisions of warm clothing were distributed to many needy families. More than 200 gifts were assembled by the students and distributed to the members of these Sunday schools during the Christmas season.
Besides showing thirty high grade moving pictures in the new Lyric Theatre, the Y. M. C. A. has arranged a series of parties in the new lounge. The presence of young ladies from Radford has lent unmistakable delight to these occasions. The undertaking has been most favorably received by the students and we have been encouraged to continue them next year. The cabinet and advisory board have also enjoyed three dinners delightfully arranged by the hostess.
The improvements on the building which were made last summer have not only increased the usefulness of the association but added materially to its attractiveness. There is hardly an hour in the day when a dozen or more students are not lounging in some of the easy chairs, reading the papers, listening to the radio, or talking with friends. In the evening there are not enough chairs to accommodate the crowds that come to hear the music and sit by the crackling fire on the massive hearth of the stone fireplace. This beautiful room, so attractively furnished by Mrs. C. H. Cowgill, has been the admiration of every student and guest who has seen it. It is hoped that the other room, now designed as a reading room, may soon be equipped in similar fashion.
The dormitory section of the building has been occupied without a vacancy during the entire year. The auditorium and banquet room have provided 234 meetings of students and civic organizations. The cleanliness of the building has been greatly facilitated by the improvements and the painting which was done last summer, and the health officer has voluntarily commended us on the care of the entire plant.
Without exception the ministers and the congregations of the six churches in Blacksburg have shown a splendid disposition to work with the Y. M. C. A. of the college. There were two deputations of ministerial students from Union Theological Seminary and the Virginia Theological Seminary, respectively, who visited V. P. I. this session.
Applications for student employment were received in such large numbers prior to the opening of college that the secretary was requested to assist in discovering jobs for needy students. A thorough canvass was made of the entire community, but the outlook for student self-help is discouraging. Practically all of the employment for students within the college is awarded by the heads of the several departments in which the work is done.
It is impossible to evaluate the results or measure the effectiveness of such work as ours. The most reliable criterion of our effectiveness is the social behavior of our students ten years from now. We continue in the belief that if our work has been well done, those who go out from this institution will enter into their vocations, asking no privileges for themselves which they would deny others, requiring no tribute which impoverishes the masses and creates an unchristian caste system. We advance in the faith that “Where love lifts the loads of life, there God is.”
PAUL N. DERRING, General Secretary.