Black Demands & Repercussions

Throughout 1968 and 1969, students across the nation—both black and white—wanted more control over their academic experience. In her book, The Black Revolution on Campus, Martha Biondi argues that black students’ newfound racial pride, political outlooks, and mood of impatience led to a heightened feeling of unrest. Black student struggles on college campuses accentuate the frustration many students were feeling with their school’s administrations. At this time, most Loras students and faculty felt a strong tension with the administration. The black students’ frustration with President Justin A. Driscoll clearly exposed the problems the whole campus community felt with the administration (Biondi, 6-9).

On March 6th, 1969, the Black Student Union (BSU) presented President Driscoll with six demands they believed were "conducive to the self-awareness, self-expression and intellectual enlightenment of the black students on the campus of Loras College" (1). When the administration did not reply with the answers the students were looking for, they called Loras guilty of institutionalized racism. Frustrated with the administration for not receiving their demands favorably, they held a protest during Mass at Christ the King Chapel on May 15, 1969. 


Following this proposal, the administration explained that the resignation of the current head basketball coach was previously announced and noted that his resignation was a personal decision, stating, "There was no causal relationship between Mr. Pott's resignation and the request by the black students." The administration also explained that a general athletic grooming policy was approved in November of 1968. However, President Driscoll did not implement the new policy until the fall of 1969, nearly one year after it had been approved. Therefore, the policy had not yet been implemented at the time this proposal was made.



The administration and senate agreed that a black counselor would be beneficial for Loras students. They also agreed that the counselor should be someone who meets the "identity needs" of the black students, and while the BSU will be consulted, the College will make the final decision of employment. The administration reported that they are actively cooperating with the University of Dubuque and Clarke College to find a qualified guidance counselor for the three schools, but stated that there was no guarantee that one would be hired at that time. 



The administration explained that the responsibility for recruiting ultimately resides on the Director of Admissions and his staff. However, the Admission's Office welcomes "The interest and willingness of the black students in recruiting qualified black students." The senate also reported they recently formed a "Student Senate Admissions Committee" that was searching for black students willing to recruit in cooperation with a member of the College Admissions Department. The senate also proposed that "competent" minority and foreign students should be actively recruited to fill empty dormitory space. They argued that although it would be difficult to do so for the following academic year, "every effort should be made within financial limits and time available to fill a portion of this space."

They continued,

A realistic college education must parallel and prepare the student for what he will find in the society outside. This society has a substantially greater proportion in its black population than presently exists at Loras College, therefore, if Loras is to provide a genuine educational atmosphere, it must take the obvious steps in obtaining qualified students from all segments of our national culture by making minority students aware of financial aid through the college, the government, and private sources.

The senate stated that a program of this nature would be "innovative," and the college administration should investigate it further.



The administration and senate found the proposal to continue living together agreeable but noted that it cannot be a segregated living arrangement. They stated, "In principle, Loras College does not accept segregation. In addition, since Loras College receives federal funds, it cannot allow the segregated housing of black and white students." The "Black Floor" of Keane Hall first became a reality in the fall of 1968, when black students asked if they could all live in one location, and together with white students who respected and supported them. The idea received some pushback from some members of the Dubuque and Loras community who thought the living arrangement enforced segregation, but the floor had the opposite purpose and result. "The Black Floor" was reportedly the most integrated place on campus.

Contrary to student request, the administration reported that only one floor counselor would be appointed for the upcoming academic year due to the projected ratio of black students to student counselors. 



The administration explained that multiple courses relating to Black Studies had already been initiated during the 1968-69 academic year, including Afro-American History and Anthropology of African Cultures. They also reported beginning the search for "a competent black person" to join the Sociology Department full time, a qualified person to teach a course in black literature and mentioned asking a black consultant to refer names of black poets, musicians, or other performing artists to spend a portion of the year on the Loras Campus.



More than anything, black college students across the country wanted affirmation of their culture and history. They wanted this inclusion to come naturally to every aspect of campus life. The administration responded that it is an excellent idea, though “The Committee which functions in this area has tried to present a balanced program to the Loras community.” Responsibility for bringing in appropriate black entertainers was passed to the Student Senate, which was given about 40% of the $15,000 budgeted for entertainers and lecturers for the upcoming academic year.

The BSU concluded their list of demands stating, "It will only be just and right for the college administration to meet these demands, and in result, the college life at Loras for the black students will be academic and socially compatible."

The Student Senate concluded the fact sheet with a statement of support for the black students:

The desire of black students to recruit for Loras College, to obtain competent professors and courses, to make the college relevant to the world at large, and to improve the atmosphere of Christian Brotherhood at Loras is obvious from their statements. Every effort should be made by the college (faculty, administration and students) to implement the legitimate portions of these demands insofar as is economically feasible.

Following the administration’s response to the demands, the black students issued a statement that Loras was guilty of institutionalized racism. They did not publically elabotate on their displeasure with the administration's response, however they boldly stated:

We have in the past attempted through dialogue to gain an understanding and rapport with the administration, in relation to the plight of the black at Loras. We feel that the college, being basically an academic institution, should be concerned with the contemporary and pressing problems of our society. Loras in the past by its ambivalence toward the black student has alienated blacks and subjected us to the racism which is so impregnated in the American way of life.

On May 15, 1969, the BSU held a protest during mass at Christ the King Chapel to demonstrate their frustration with the Loras College administration. 

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    Cited Sources
    1. [5.15.69] Fact Sheet on Black Demands (all references on this page are from this document)