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THE REAL FACTS ABOUT RUSKIN UNIVERSITY

by Charles H. Kerr
Article from The International Socialist Review
Vol. IV July 1903 - June 1904

 

So many conflicting rumors have been circulated regarding the past, present and future of Ruskin University, that I believe the Socialists of the United States would like an Impartial statement of the facts In the case. By way of preface I desire to explain that I am In no way connected with the management of the university, while I have had the best of facilities for personal observation of Its work and acquaintance with Its officers and students, since my residence la at Glen Ellyn, where It Is located, and I am financial secretary of Local Glen Ellyn of the Socialist Party, the membership of which consists largely of Ruskin students.

While the Ruskin College was operated at Trenton, Mo., Walter Vrooman was Its chief financial support. His connection with the Institution was definitely ended at least three months ago. Socialists can hardly be blamed for looking askance at Ruskin while Vrooman was a director. He Is a generous, whole-souled fellow with the greatest enthusiasm for Socialism as he understands It; but he Is hopelessly erratic, and he refuses to work Inside the Socialist Party, because he wants to be dictator In whatever Is doing. He Is out now and It Is needless to discuss him further.

Ruskin University Is an amalgamation of various schools, among which are Ruskin College, which removed from Trenton under the direction of George McA. Miller, and the Chicago Law School, at the head of which was 3. 3. Tobias. This Tobias became the chancellor of the university, In charge ot Its Chicago office In the Schiller building, while Miller, with the title of Dean, was In actual charge of the class work at Glen Ellyn.

An essential part of the University work which had been agreed upon by all parties concerned before the consolidation was that economics and sociology should be taught by Socialists, from the Socialist point of view, not, however, excluding their presentation from the capitalist point of view also If found desirable. As a matter of fact the only course on these subjects. In the spring term of 1903 was a course of lectures on Socialism by May Wood Simons. I had the privilege of listening to most of her lectures and found them Instructive and stimulating In a high degree. They were attended by a large proportion of the students, and bad a marked effect In clearing their Ideas.

Toward the end of the spring term Chancellor Tobias evidently became alarmed at the growing prominence of the Socialist thought in the University, and resolved to check It If possible. He gave out Interviews and newspaper letters falsely asserting that a small group of students was alone responsible for any Socialist tendency on the part of the University, and he undertook from that time to get rid of Socialist students and also of Dean Miller.

An animated though not noisy contest ensued for the control of the Glen Ellyn property and I am happy to announce that Miller has won out and that under his direction scientific Socialism will be taught at Ruskin by A. M. Simons, May Wood Simons, and probably soon by other members of the Socialist Party. Miller himself has not thus far been a party member, although he votes the Socialist ticket, hut the logic of events Is bringing him to ns Irresistibly. When he comes Into the party organization It will be to stay. I have known him for years and know that he Is a man to tie to.

Ruskin College may continue to affiliate with the various Chicago schools that with It made up Ruskin University, but It will have Its own board of trustees, and Its own local government, so that there will In future be no Interference with Its established policy of teaching the truth on social problems. It Is the purpose of the college to furnish Its students with employment, for a sufficient portion of their time to enable them to earn their board and room rent. Courses, both resident and correspondence, will be given by Mr. and Mrs. Simons as originally announced In history, economics and sociology. I can unhesitatingly commend the school as one to which Socialist parents can send their sons and daughters from fourteen years up, with the assurance that their minds will not be perverted by the capitalistic atmosphere such as surrounds most colleges. It Is also the best possible place for a young workingman who desires to get a broad education while earning his own living.

It appears that Inquiries from Socialists addressed to Ruskin University have been deliberately neglected by Tobias, who received the mall. To ensure getting a prompt answer address Inquiries personally to Geo. McA. Miller, Glen Ellyn, 111. The fall term opens September 15.

Charles H. Kerr

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