Blast from the past…
I was a student at the Big Sandy Campus in the late 80’s and lately have spent considerable time reminiscing over some of my “dating” experiences. First of all, to say that what we were doing was “dating” is an absolute fallacy. I, along with many former classmates, feel that this unhealthy atmosphere has contributed greatly to the many divorces among AC grads. Following are just a few examples of “Dating Hell” at Ambassador College.
As females, we were obligated to accept dates from any young man who asked. The only grounds for refusal were if someone else had already asked. This created a “stampede” atmosphere around the more important (and lengthy) social occasions in order to snag the most desirable date for the evening. Of course, the women were victims of this system as we had to wait benignly to be asked.
There was the dreaded “LIST” that would be circulated a few days before each major event of the poor girls too unfortunate to have been asked. What could be more humiliating? I speak from experience as my name was on this “List” for the first major dance of our freshman year. Not because I was unpopular or ever lacked for a date at any other time. Once the “List” was out, I was told by several young men they had intended to ask me but were sure I’d already been asked. I always wondered why the “List” wasn’t circulated of GUYS who were too much of a loser to get themselves a date!!
We were also required, as young ladies, to accept ANY dates upon which we were invited. Even dates to attend bible study on Friday evening when you’d rather spend the time calling home to Mom and Dad or catching up on some well-needed rest. I remember vividly one Friday evening when a particularly boorish individual paraded me into the field house on his arm for our “Bible Study Date”. He made the rounds to be sure to speak briefly with ONLY the ministers and faculty members present and then proceeded to seat us on the front row.
The speaker for the evening announced that the topic would be marriage and family and my “date” jabbed his rather large elbow into my ribs, winked at me and said “Pay attention!”. Within five minutes he was sound asleep, head bobbing and SNORING!! I glanced discreetly around the room and as soon as I realized everyone could indeed see him sleeping, my sweetest revenge was that I did not wake him up!!
The most harrowing “dating” experience I ever had, though, was one that only could have happened within this sick, unhealthy “dating” atmosphere the college created. This was a “date” for the day of Trumpets. Holy Day dates were slightly more important than the weekly “Sabbath” dates because you were required to spend an entire day with the person (morning and afternoon service, lunch and dinner).
The individual I was required to spend the entire day with probably shouldn’t have been at AC to begin with. He certainly should not have been given free reign to “date” anyone he wished. He was 28 years old and I was 18. He was not adept at any social skills and was a difficult person to carry on a conversation with, let alone interact in a “dating” situation…and I had to spend about 10 hours with him. I begged my close girlfriends and their “dates” to stick close by and so we planned to meet at services and sit together since we were all in the choir and singing that day.
To make a long story short, my “date” would not “allow” me to sit with the other choir members, which we were required to do. He withheld my choir music from me after the morning service when I was to report for practice and made me almost miss the practice. He just wouldn’t give me my music folder, despite repeated requests. He continued to talk with another “couple” who were obviously as embarrassed as I was that he was ignoring me, until they excused themselves and he finally gave me my music and let me go. Of course, I should have walked away from the creep right there!
But it got worse. After eating lunch, alone, because he would not agree to sit with anyone, let alone my friends, he suggested taking a stroll around campus. I declined as I had very severe allergies and had to sing during the afternoon service. He grabbed my arm and practically dragged me outside and within 15 minutes I could barely breathe as we “strolled” through the beautiful blooming gardens and tears streamed out of my red, itchy eyes!
In the dining hall for dinner, with the end in sight, I purposefully sat with my friends and tried to eat dinner as quickly as possible in order to end this horrible ordeal. He sat, eating rudely and conversing with someone at the other end of the table, totally ignoring me, as I’m sure he was displeased with the outcome of the “date”. He spoke only twice during that meal. Once to ask my friend if he could eat her leftovers off her plate and again as he overheard us planning to meet up at my dorm after the sabbath to study for upcoming exams. His response to this was to announce loudly “You’re not going to study with them. THIS DATE ISN’T OVER UNTIL I SAY IT’S OVER!!” I don’t remember much of what happened after that, I think shock set in. Eventually the story of this epic occasion reached one of the senior leaders, who eventually recounted it to the dean of students and I was counseled that I shouldn’t have put up with that type of behavior! Nice to know after the fact!
This attitude was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of the unhealthy and inappropriate attitudes that were communicated and therefore created in many of the young men(and women) who attended this institution. I was told by one young man (a minister’s son) that I should wear higher heels on a regular basis because it made women look better. When I asked why he told me because it made our behinds and our breasts stick out when we walked and it was much sexier.
It wasn’t all bad. I was lucky enough to meet and “date” and finally marry my wonderful husband and a lot of those pathetic “dating” experiences really do seem funny now. But a lot of them were inappropriate and wrong and have caused a lot of suffering over the years. The church created a weird little world we were to live in and a few years at AC allowed us to experience it undiluted and from the “source”. After all, that’s where all those ministers and their wives were trained!! I am now thankful to have escaped relatively unscathed from it all…including the “dating” game!!
Article by Michelle