Throughout fall 1973 and into winter 1974, members of the Society of Afro-American Culture (SAAC) continued to justify their need for a cultural center and use of the Print Shop. In December, Dean of Student Affairs Banks Talley submitted an offer to SAAC, allocating the basement of the Print Shop for the use of an African American cultural center. Don Bell and the SAAC quickly rejected this offer. Perhaps SAAC interpreted the allocation of the basement as the administration’s attempt to hide the cultural center and its members. Neither Bell nor the SAAC spoke publically about the proposal, so it is unclear why SAAC rejected it. The following January, Talley counter-offered with his “final” decision: SAAC could utilize half of the first floor of the Print Shop, a space SAAC declared too small for a cultural center. In a statement to the Technician on January 9, 1974, Dean of Student Development John Poole declared, “We are now hopeful that they [SAAC] will meet with us in regards to how that space that has been allocated to them can best be used.” However, African American students refused to accept Talley’s final offer and continued to voice their opinions across campus.
The tension resulting from the lack of communication and understanding between white and African American students prompted student leaders to seek solutions and to promote racial unity across campus. Dean John Poole called for student leaders to meet with university administrators for a “Student Affairs of Human Relations Conference” at the Quail Roost conference center near Durham, NC. Informally referred to as Quail Roost, the conference offered students an opportunity to discuss issues with one another with the aid of counselors. Nine white students, including Student Body President Terry Carroll, and ten African American students attended the weekend meeting on February 2-3, 1974; notably absent was Brenda Harrison who rejected the conference invitation. Dean Banks Talley, Dean John Poole, and Dr. Augustus Witherspoon also attended the conference as administrative representatives.
Visit other Exhibits in Crossing the Color Line.