DISCONTINUANCE OF COED INN AT WILLIAMS AVE. YWCA CENTER
BY DECISION OF THE YWCA TEEN-AGE COMMITTEE--MAY 23, 1956
Coed Inn program has been in operation since September 1954 for teen-age
boys and girls. It is primarily a dance, with fringe activities such
as ping pong and table games. YWCA membership is required of participants
plus a 10¢ fee each week. Cokes are for sale at 5¢. Refreshments
are occasionally planned by the Council, which is the leadership group
of the membership.
January and February the attendance declined from a previous average
of 50-75 to the point where very few or no teen-agers came. This we
assumed to be the usual seasonal drop and made plans several times
with the Council to have a special party to draw back the participants.
None of these attempts was particularly successful.
the course of conversations with members of the group, and with adults
who were interested in the program, several interesting facts were
discovered. At the Knott St. Center on a Thursday night the staff
workers said, "Everybody goes to the Y on Thursday nights." On the
same night no one was at the Y. A name band was playing for a dance
at McElroy's Ballroom, and probably many of the teen-agers were there
at $2.40 a head. This raised the problem of where the kids were on
other Thursday nights. The community expected them to be at the Y.
Where were they?
a dance studio teaching calypso opened at about this time (or began
drawing some of our older girls). These girls began to do exhibition
calypso at a variety of places and ceased coming to the Y program.
This studio also, according to hearsay, runs teen-age dances two or
three nights a week.
an unusually large number of the girls in the group (many of them
on the Council) were becoming pregnant--some have had their children
illegitimately; some have rushed into hasty marriages. On one occasion
girls going home from the Y dance were picked up on Williams Ave.,
taken to Pier Park, and raped.
facts were brought to the attention of the Teen-Age Committee at its
April 26th meeting. The question was raised as to the advisability
of dropping the dance program and substituting other types of activity
for teen-age girls. A charm class was suggested. Also Y-Teen clubs
for younger (7th and 8th grade) girls. It was also recommended that
activities be held in the late afternoon rather than at night.
committee also recommended that a meeting be held with some representative
women of the Williams Ave. neighborhood to talk about the problems
of teen-age girls and to pool ideas of what the YWCA should be doing
to help them.
meeting was held one week later on May 1. It was not as representative
a group as we had hoped for, nor was it as thoughtful a group as it
needed to be. There was a brief introduction of the problem facing
the Teen-Age Department; namely, shall we discontinue the dance and
substitute more constructive activity for girls only--because of the
problems previously stated (see above). After this introduction the
group veered directly to a discussion of the dance program, and agreed
that they felt there was a need for the dance to be continued. Thes
was most strongly stated by one member of the group, but was accepted
by the others. There was much other conversation, touching on the
Knott St. Center and the techniques of educating boys and girls how
to behave at dances.
all of the members of this advisory group were on their way to a railroad
ball, the discussion never really was completed. Instead, the group
left the Y and went on to the dance.
the YWCA staff and the chairman of the Teen-Age Committee who were
present, it was a very frustrating meeting. It had never reached the
crux of the situation--what will really help these teen-age girls?
the May meeting of the Teen-Age Committee, the meeting of the Advisory
Group was reported by Margaret Boehmer, chairman of the Committee.
The Teen-Age Committee discussed the problem further and arrived at
the following recommendations:
- That the dance not be
- That a Charm Class be
set up for this summer.
- That a Y-teen Club be
started for 7th & 8th grade girls.
- That, in the future,
dances would be held there only if planned by a YWCA girls' group
for a specific group of boys
Committee feels that a dance, unrelated to other program[s], is not
a beneficial activity. The dance has obviously not offered any solution
to the real problems of the girls in the neighborhood, and may even
have been contributing to their delinquency.
Eileen Jacques, who is a member of the Teen-Age Department Committee,
is also on the staff of the Women' s Protective Division. She spoke
with the commanding officer of the East Precinct of the Portland Police
Department, telling him of the fact that the Committee was in the
process of deciding whether or not to reopen the dance. The police
officer hoped that the Committee would decide against having the dances.
"As far as we are concerned, it's a big headache. We had to send six
cars one time (diverting as many as twelve men from other duties),
and almost had to put some kids in handcuffs, they were acting so
obstreperous. It appears to me that the dances actually cause more
delinquency than they prevent. Of course we know that the dances are
well-supervised inside the building, but the trouble comes
outside the building and in transit. Bringing together in that location
so many kids is just asking for trouble."
Committee feels that the girls of the Williams Avenue Area need much
help in becoming mature and socially acceptable in their behavior,
especially since many do not have the kind of home background which
would give them this training. Every possible effort should be put
into helping the Teen-age girls to handle the pressures of growing
we see as our job. Therefore, this summer we will offer a Charm Class,
and a Y-Teen club for 7th and 8th graders. The Club, we hope, will
continue into the next school year. The class might possibly become
a club and continue with appropriate kinds of program activities.
The Coed Inn will not be revived.