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Big Sister Is Watching

Big Sister Is Watching image Big Sister Is Watching image
Fred Thomas
Rights Held By
Ypsilanti Historical Society
OCR Text

I had the pleasure of being a public school teacher in Michigan for 32 years. A parent shared the following letter that they received in 1956 from the Office of the Dean of Women at Western Michigan College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I think you will find it is one more example of how the world has changed. Her name and address have been changed to protect the innocent. Enjoy!


Dear Parent or Guardian:

In order that you may have a clear understanding of some of the policies of Western Michigan College, we are writing parents or guardians of all women students who are here in 1956-57.

Because the campus is extensive, students have tended to hitchhike from one area to another. The college is definitely opposed to hitchhiking at any time, and hopes students will ride the college bus or accept rides from specially designated areas only with a person known by the student.

You will find enclosed, if your daughter is a new student and not living at home, a card which you may, if you wish, fill out and return to my office. This will permit your daughter to spend weekends away from her residence, at places other than home. If it should be necessary for her to be out of her residence overnight during the week, she will be expected to have in my office or in the office of the dormitory director, a written note from you giving such a permission. If the time element makes this impossible, the permission may be given by a telephone call from you, to me or to the residence hall director.

It is our policy to send a postcard to parents, specifying the dates when a girl has been out of her residence overnight, and her destination. You need not reply to the card, unless the information on it does not agree with your knowledge. Perhaps it should be pointed out that there have been occasions, such as after some of the big dances, when students have signed out for a certain destination, and then gone elsewhere. When we do not hear from you, we assume you know of your daughter’s plans.

We also want you to know that Western Michigan College is opposed to liquor, including beer, being introduced into any college building, and that students entering their rooming places under the influence of liquor may be subject to dismissal from the college. However, since many colleges are faced with the fact that sometimes liquor is served at non-college affairs, and that students, including girls who are minors, might possibly attend such affairs, in order to better understand the student and perhaps be of help to her we would like to know whether your attitude on the use of liquor agrees with ours.

This office is anxious to be of service to you and your daughter in every way possible. We are always happy to hear from, or meet parents, and hope you will feel free to communicate with us at any time.

Sincerely yours,
Elizabeth E. Lichty
Dean of Women


(Fred Thomas moved to Ypsilanti in 1948, graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1958, and then from Eastern Michigan University in 1965. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The card sent to parents by Western Michigan University in 1956 when their daughter was off campus overnight.