Chapter 5, Part 5 – 1971
In January 1971, the college finally enjoyed a significant, albeit small, victory in its pursuit of accreditation. The Council on Education recognized WSCC under a newly created accreditation status, “Correspondent.” It was the lowest rung on the accreditation ladder, but it was a form of accreditation nonetheless.
As a requirement of this new accreditation status, the college would have to demonstrate success in those areas of greatest need. The Council on Education insisted the college:
- increase its enrollment
- stabilize its exigent financial situation
- improve the physical appearance of the campus
- increase contributions or successfully fundraise
- merge with another institution or move to a new campus
In general, none of these requirements were new or unexpected. However, this time the Council on Education posed a possibility not previously offered in the option of moving to a new campus. Although moving to a new campus had been considered by the college on several occasions, advocacy of this option by the council emboldened the college to reinvest energy in this direction. Little did the college realize just how far that small investment of energy would extend.
Over the remainder of 1971, the college embarked upon a number of projects, each with specific goals to address the areas of concern identified by the council:
- acquire 750 recent publications for the library
- award a $300 scholarship to each district in the State to recruit students
- conduct a $75,000 fundraising campaign by obtaining $1,000 promissory notes from field doctors to be paid over a three-year period of time
- approach field doctors to bequeath the college in their estates and wills
- embark upon a campus beautification project
Not much in the way of immediate success was expected from these efforts, however, there were some encouraging results. Sweat-equity invested by the student body changed the face of the campus in dramatic fashion. Recently published volumes were purchased or donated to the library and fundraising efforts began to generate new revenue. The mood at the college improved considerably with the fall 1971 enrollment that was a 66 percent increase over the previous year. It was also a stronger class academically. Fourteen of the 29 freshman had four or more years of college education and the average GPA for the class was 3.20. Spirits were lifted even further when the college learned that all 22 of its recent graduates had passed the Basic Science Exam. No other chiropractic college could boast a 100 percent pass rate. While these modest improvements were being made, members of the board and college administration quietly investigated leads on potential campus sites.
It was remarkably satisfying to see substantive signs of improvement. The college had obtained an accreditation status. It had reversed the downward trend in enrollment. It was enjoying an improved financial picture, and the campus makeover had significantly improved its appearance.
Unfortunately, some of the problems plaguing the college were beyond its control and continued to be sources of chronic frustration. In 1971, the Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners (WBCE) denied WSCC graduates the opportunity to sit for their licensure examination because the college did not teach enough chiropractic philosophy. This produced a demoralizing chill across the entire campus. In early 1972, the college decided to appeal directly to the ACA for advice on how best to resolve their differences with the WBCE short of filing a law suit, something the college understood would take years to litigate and cost thousands of dollars it did not have.
At the very time the college was attempting to resolve its differences over chiropractic philosophy with the Washington Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the same issue surfaced on campus from students. Chiropractic philosophy had always been a hot topic of student debate, but this time the debate took the form of an ultimatum from an elite few students demanding a total infusion of philosophy into the curriculum.
Described as a “noxious knot,” a small group of less than 10 students was becoming increasingly vocal about the school’s position on chiropractic philosophy. The administration viewed the students as “…actively engaged in proselytizing other students, especially Freshmen, into their way of thinking… that made this year rather unpleasant for many of us.”
Debate on the topic of chiropractic philosophy was nothing new to the chiropractic profession or the college. A disagreement on chiropractic philosophy divided WSCC and the WBCE. The college did not wish to suffer a similar division with the student body on the same issue. It is likely that the unrest fomented by the student cabal began in earnest a year earlier when the college acquiesced to allowing a student International Chiropractic Association club on campus.
The International Chiropractic Association (ICA) was the political arm of the chiropractic profession that supported the philosophical end of the chiropractic spectrum. This element of the profession saw itself as separate and distinct from medicine — so separate that it was frequently characterized as being “anti-medicine and non-scientific.” The ICA endorsed the teachings of D.D. and B.J. Palmer. At its philosophical heart, the ICA promoted the concept of a neurologic basis as the cause of “dis-ease” (the Vertebral Subluxation Complex) and the “adjustment” as the cure. The ICA was perceived by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) as being dogmatic and irrational. The ACA was perceived by the ICA as being heretical to the founding fundamental principles of chiropractic. In practical terms, their respective perceptions of one another created irreconcilable differences, making it impossible for the two associations to agree on much of anything.
The college’s decision to allow a student ICA club was in response to a demand from a group of philosophically oriented students that they be treated equally. There was a student ACA club on campus, and they wanted nothing more than equal consideration. As innocent and well-intentioned as the decision was, the furor it created could have been predicted. President Elliot concluded, “…the two philosophies are diametrically opposed and that we are only going to ask ourselves for a lot of long range trouble by permitting such a group of students to infiltrate the college student body.” Within a matter of months, this prophecy came to pass.