home sitesearch contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

C’est Vrai: High student fees prompted SLI hunger protest

March 12, 2008

The question of student fees has been on the front burner ever since UL was a struggling young institute. Then, as now, students were not always sure that they were getting fair fare for what they were paying.

In fact, they expressed their feelings in 1919 by a boycott of the student mess hall. President Edwin Lewis Stephens said they only way to get better food was to pay more for it, and he wasn’t sure that was such a good idea.

On Dec. 22, 1919, Stephens wrote to The Dormitory Boys of Southwestern Institute:

"Coach (T.R.) Mobley tells me you went on a ‘hunger strike’ and cut your afternoon classes last Wednesday. I am sorry to hear it. I know the fare isn’t anything to boast of, but I didn’t think you would express yourselves in that way. … I have already tried to do something about the fare at the mess hall – and believe things are improving a little.

"I still hope we shall not have to increase the price of board – because I know the cost of coming to school is a great hardship on the parents of a majority of our boys and girls.

"The price now is about 20¢ a meal. To make it 25¢ would help some – but that would mean $4.50 more per month. … You now pay $5.62 per week, as follows: laundry 62¢; water, fuel, light, etc., 50¢; medical 25¢; board $4.25. If we raise the price of meals 5¢, it will take $1.05 more per week, bringing the total cost of $6.67 – or $26.70 for four weeks, instead of $22.50.

"Even that will not go far, of course, because – as your parents know – milk is now 80¢, eggs 70¢, syrup $1.40, rice 12 1¼2¢, sugar 18 1¼2¢, servants’ wages twice what they were, and everything else in proportion. Only the very fortunate can live well these days. I feel we are lucky to get by at all – especially with our average gain of from five to 10 pounds per student since school began."

Do you reckon he really weighed the students? Why?

C’est Vrai means "it’s true." Read senior writer Jim Bradshaw’s observations on Acadiana’s history and people each weekday at theadvertiser.com. Reach him at 289-6315 or jbradshaw@theadvertiser.com.