Page 7


TEXAS 13 SERVER June 4, 1982 A Journal .of Free Voices 75 A Texas Jr. College Primer Lesson I: “If You Can’t Say Something Good . .” By John Wheat Gibson Temple I was looking for naked people, but I didn’t know it. To me, the picture in the magazine the chairman presented was the image of an apparent hair net. The chairman told me it was a pen-and-ink drawing by a McLennan Community College art student, and had won a prestigious Fort Worth exhibition. “Look closely,” the MCC English department chairman told me. “I can’t believe you are so naive.” The man had just received his Ph.D. from Baylor University for his dissertation on Lord Byron’s use of the Bible. Holding only a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas, I was an associate editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald. I was naive. He had to point it out to me. “Well, here,” he said, indicating a corner of the confusion, “is a naked female figure.” I stared hard at the reticulation. “Why, so it is!” It was like one of those “Find the bunny, the horsie and the duckie” drawings in children’s magazines but for adults. “And here,” he pointed to the bottom of the page, “is a naked male.” It was 1977, and I was interviewing for the job of journalism instructor at MCC in Waco. The chairman was showing me the student literary magazine published the previous semester, when Carolyn Dodson was journalism instructor at MCC. “And what would you do about it?” the chairman demanded. I answered naively. “If it’s the work of a student here and won a prize in a prestigious competition, I suppose it’s necessary to include it in the magazine.” The chairman turned to the back cover of the magazine. The picture was the soporific photograph of a nondescript, fully clad college lad lying on his back on an automobile. On his stomach the youth was holding a can, on which the label “Schlitz” could be read. “Ah-ha!” I ah-haed. “That’s free advertising!” “No!” he cried. “That’s beer!” The chairman told me the entire printing of the magazine had been confiscated by the MCC administration because of the two execrations. One might rightly observe that proximity to the Baylor Southern Baptists, who rule Waco, accounts for the peculiar sensitivity of MCC administrators to such peccadillos as mysterious drawings of flesh and photographs of beer cans. It is also true that encroachment by ideologi Beth Epstein cal and economic elites is hardly peculiar to MCC or to community colleges. Indeed, David Noble has recently revealed in The Nation that even the exalted Massachusetts Institute of Technology is not above pimping its professors to multinational corporations. Moreover, the bubble of nostalgia for ivy halls sheltering disinterested truthseekers was burst by Ronnie Dugger’s copious documentation in Our Invaded Universities University of Texas system, for example, politicians and businesspeople have been meddling from the start. To be sure, the ideological contamination of journalism education can be seen as an element of the industrialization of higher education, in which trustees become directors; administrators, manag’ers; and faculty, hired hands.