Difficult Conversations

Lance Jeffers

Lance Jeffers, c. 1967

In May 1968, Lance Jeffers, adjunct faculty in English, filed a complaint with the University's Committee on Discriminatory Practices charging that the administration of the Kokomo campus was engaging in discriminatory behavior toward Mr. Jeffers in particular, but also toward the students and broader Kokomo community.

A summary of his charges were forwarded to then-Dean Victor Bogle and raised as a topic for discussion in the May 22, 1968, meeting of the IU Kokomo Faculty Organization, in which faculty moved to draw up a resolution in response.

Appendix 1: Transcription of Charges filed by Mr. Jeffers

Appendix detailing charges filed by Mr. Jeffers, 1968

Faculty were quickly engaged in a heated debate, both about the content the complaint filed and the more bureaucratic details of responding as faculty. Dr. Ruth Hanig, chemistry faculty, defended Dean Bogle specifically, listing the many initiatives he supported on campus and in the community that promoted civil rights, including his response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his support of the recently-passed Fair Housing ordinance, and his encouragement of the newly established "griddle" discussions to facilitate open communication between students and faculty. 

Campus meeting with Herbert Miller, Victor Bogle, B. R. Davidson, and others

Campus griddle, 1968

Deans Human Rights Commission Formed

Road Runner, 1968

Segregation in Kokomo was at the heart of this debate, as the complaints filed by Mr. Jeffers included allegations of segregated housing in Kokomo, as well as the membership of campus administrators in community organizations that were still segregated, notably the Kokomo Swim Club. Students, faculty, and staff participated in the efforts to desegregate housing ordinances in Kokomo, and Mr. Jeffers played an important role in the NAACP case against local grade schools for their mistreatment of black students. 

In 1968, Dean Victor Bogle responded to IU President Stahr's call for action about racial discrimination on IU campuses by forming the Dean's Human Rights Committee, chaired by Dr. Herbert Miller and comprised of faculty, staff, and students on campus. Students voiced concerns about how their experiences in high school, including encouraged and enforced segregation, failed to prepare them to succeed in college. 

After discussing the issues raised in the charges filed by Mr. Jeffers, the faculty voted that this existing committee would be renamed the Faculty-Student Committee on Human Rights and that Dean Bogle would withdraw as a member.