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Morning Exercises. (Lecture. Delivered at Ferris Institute. 21 January 1921.)

In regards to excused and unexcused absences, conditions do not improve. They are worse. Here are the total absences, excused and unexcused for the last two weeks. Excused- 324, unexcused-322. Of course, we have students in the hospital that get two every day. We have to keep our records- we cannot say that they are not absent. The student is not to blame nor the school. The tardy excused- 68, unexcused- 25. Class absences 829, unexcused 563 making an average of 1392 class absences. I do not need to make any comment. I only want the splendid students of the school to see where my obstacles are.

At 10:45 all men who filed requests to play pools, billiards and to bowl, whose last names begin with the letters from A to G will see me in my office. You will not be dealt with together. You couldn't all get into my office at one time. Sit on the front steps and when your name is called, come in individually. It will only take me five seconds. I have heard from guardians that the worst violators are the ones who did not put in any cards at all. I just want those men seated here this morning to know that I know a thing or two. You are playing pool until eleven or twelve o'clock. Is it possible you think that you can get away with this? I am going to be fair and square with the people who are fair and square with me. There are forty or fifty guardians that have not yet replied. I have counted three divisions here. I said all whose last names-up to the G-if your last names begin with G you are in this section. Could that be made any plainer Mr. Masselink?

I have announced a faculty meeting. I have discussed the matter of excuse cards and the matter or pool playing and bowling. I will now proceed to the next step. This is only a beginning, understand me. I have young men and young women in this school who defy me- who boast of it in the streets and at their boarding places. Now if you will only understand that I do not want you and I will get rid of you, but it takes time. I will get rid of you all right just as I will get rid of the ones who came up drunk on the train at 9:18 offering to sell booze on the train. Drunk when they got off. I am not asleep! Now that kind of stuff should never have enrolled here- what a saving it would be. They are not fit for any place.

I FORMALLY EXPEL THIS MORNING- (now do not appear at my office or bother Mr. Masselink, go to an attorney if you want to)

Stanley St. Charles

Max Hillberry

James Moore

For bringing liquor here- and a gambler by his own letter and admission. I don't know if he is present this morning. He went to see his sweetheart in Ionia- she is a fine specimen too! These people need never try to enroll in this school again. They are out for all times. Moore admitted in my office that he did not have any character but said to me he did not know what he would do. He said he knew he was nothing and he didn't know what he would do. We have tried, tried, and tried him. We can assume no guardianship.

The girls in this school understand definitely that you are not to go to Hadden's. I visited Hadden's Friday twice, then I visited him with Mr. Masselink Saturday and told him a thing or two. He agrees that dancing in his place hereafter will be prohibited. Now if he lies to me, consequences will come. I said, "I don't want to drive you out of business, but you have had indecent dancing here right along." He admitted it. He admitted that he had put fellows out of there for their indecency and yet all of the girls of this city and of this school continue to go there. And I want to say to all girls that were there when I walked in between four and five o'clock Friday, and ten that night must see me. This place is regarded by the officers of this city as a tough joint and by the citizens of Big Rapids as a tough joint. If he conducts a decent place, and you are ladies and gentlemen, there might be no objection to your going in there for a dish of ice-cream but the first fling of the foot on the floor. . . The decent people of Big Rapids are with me. The trouble is you are playing with the wrong man. Think of young men going to a place that the head of the school has condemned. Think of a young man ruining the prospects of a girl for the Ferris Institute. You are sitting here- right here- this morning. I MEAN YOU! You know what attitude I take. I told you what I would do. You have heard me announce the penalty for girls going to Hadden's. It doesn't make any difference if you are town girls. You are no different than the girls coming from the outside. I called up the mother of one of the town girls caught in Hadden's and she said she objected to her daughter dancing there, but she had no control over her.

Friday afternoon between four and five o'clock I called at Hadden's. I found four or five girl students and several boys. Friday evening near ten I found Miss King, our piano instructor, with several boys and girls. I called Miss King to my office and she admitted check to cheek dancing- THE DANCING THAT HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THE OFFICIALS IN GRAND RAPIDS. She admitted to having heard my warning. I discharged her. Such loyalty will destroy any school or community. I will close this school if I have to, but I won't have too. Ninety per cent of you are decent, ninety per cent of you believe in law and order, ninety per cent of you stand by decency to the finish. But the small minority will get your medicine as fast as I can possibly give it to you.

Now, as a last remark, you young men and you young women have your final invitation. If you do not like the morality of the Ferris Institute, you walk in that office immediately after morning exercises and write this statement: "Because I do not like the morality of the Ferris Institute, I wish to leave school and have my tuition refunded." You can get it immediately after the signals but you cannot have it without making that statement. Now, if that seems fair and square, I do not want you to stick around and bother this school. You men have written frank statements that there is no harm in bowling itself. I admit that, but you can't see what it means for the boys of Big Rapids whose parents can't control them. The mothers of America are cowards. They can't do anything with their daughters and sons.

Just as soon as I get things nailed, I will make other announcements.

I might say I have tried five sources for a piano teacher. I will appeal to my friend in Chicago who furnished us the splendid quartet. I am gong to try to get a real woman that has a moral sense. Of course, when a member of my faculty falls in love with a student, all efficiency is gone. When a woman 24 years of age hasn't moral sense for herself or other girls, it is time she had a guardian. I hope he is sitting her this morning- he is a POOR guardian. If we can't get the kind of music teacher we want, we will close the music department and refund the tuition, but I wouldn't advise you to circulate the report that our department will be closed.



Source: Morning Exercises. Addresses and Writings, Box 6. Woodbridge N. Ferris Papers. University Archives. Ferris State University.