Interview with Steve Mitchell, CBC Alumnus

Amber- “Hello! My name is Amber Campbell, and I am doing an interview with Steve Mitchell. He is an alumnus of CBC, and we will be discussing the Kenrick Memory Project. Why did you chose to attend CBU?”

Steve- “Two reasons. One good, one not so good. I was actually accepted to UT Knoxville. I was going there on a music scholarship. I had already met my soon to be roommate. But I dated a girl that was still in high school, and a year younger than me. She was going to UT Knoxville, and I decided to take a scholarship at CBC because my hometown is about 60 miles away. So it was the wrong reason for doing it, but it worked out great. Reason number two is that I wanted to go to law school. And CBC had a tremendous reputation and a great success rate at getting people in to law school. In 1981, 94% of all pre-law got in to the law school of their choice.”

Amber- “Do you have any regrets?”

Steve- “Oh heck no. You know how they say that some of your best decisions were made for the wrong reason. Truthfully, if my girlfriend had of been my age I would have been at UT Knoxville. I’m sure the experience would have been nice. I would have the best out of it, but as it turns out I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made.”

Amber- “Did you have any classes in Kenrick?”

Steve- “Almost all of my classes were in Kenrick. As a liberal arts major in 1981, that’s where all the classes were. There wasn’t a Buckman yet. We had to take 6 hours of math and science, and even those classes were in Kenrick. Well actually my science class was on the intramural field because we met at night.

I spent most of my time there, more than any other place on campus."

Amber- “What was your first thought when you entered Kenrick?”

Steve- “My God I haven’t left high school. You know when you walked in, of course it was. It was a high school. I visited other colleges so I had a concept of what college looked like. Keep in mind, I never visited CBC. So when I walked in to Kenrick, and I didn’t walk in there until my first day of class; I walked in and thought this looks just like Ripley High School. In fact Ripley looked like a college to me. I was very underwhelmed; wasn’t what I expected.”

Amber- “My concern about Kenrick was the air. How did you feel about that?”

Steve- “ More often it did not work. And that was 30 years ago.

I can’t tell you how many times we had class with the windows open and sweating in August and September. And January classes were freezing.

Some of my hardest classes were during the good months, like late fall and early spring because the windows would be open. I could see my friends who didn’t have afternoon classes, and it was extremely hard because you might as well be out in the courtyard.”

Amber- “What was your first Kenrick experience?”

Stave- “The classrooms. I shouldn’t say that because the business office was in Kenrick at the time, on the left when you came in. So my first experience was going to the business office, which my bill was only $400 because of work study, financial aid and loans. I’ll tell you what, Bro. Vincent, who was the president at the time. My dad is a Pentecostal minister, and I play the piano. My mother taught me. I use piano playing to relieve stress. When I got here, I found out they had practice rooms downstairs. I was down there banging the keys one day and the door opens up. It was Bro. Vincent. We got to talking. He sat down and played. That’s also what Kenrick was to me, a place for me to play the piano and my favorite study place. I had to get out of the dorms because I could lose track easily.”

Amber- “Kenrick was too eerie for me.”

Steve- “And I liked that feeling. I liked being in there at night. I’m talking about 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning because I’m a night person. That was the best thing for me to do. The wind whistled through every window. So I liked it. There were plenty of times I was waking up as people were coming in to class. I would fall asleep around 4:30-5:00. But Kenrick needs to come down. As far as where the campus is going. It is bittersweet, but it needs to come down.”

Amber- “What was your best Kenrick moment?”

Steve-  “Putting that car in there. That was outstanding. Well actually I have two. So I’ll tell you the first. There used to be an organization on campus called Knights of Columbus. And basically it was a fraternal organization for men. At that time, they used to have college counselors. We acted like a fraternity; we pledged, we secretly put non-Catholics in. Back then there weren’t any rules on hazing. Yeah, it was brutal. So there was hell week. Hell week was a full week of being abused, but hell night was one special night dedicated to making your life miserable. Mine happened to be on campus. They dragged you around; they yelled at you. Now don’t get me wrong, we didn’t go over the top. The way they did it was they had to move us around campus so we wouldn’t get in trouble. We never knew where we were because we had on blind folds. But at one point the blind folds came off. We were in the women’s restroom in Kenrick. Every bathroom had urinals because it was an all-boys school. The urinals were boarded up. So when the blind folds came off, they said the first person that can answer this question is out of here right now. I knew what the question was going to be. Before he could even answer the question I said “those cover up urinals because this used to be an all-boys school. Can I leave now?” The guy just started laughing and said “yeah, get out of here.” And then the second story is putting the car in. We had a guy on campus. He was in the Knights. He was a buddy who was in the habit of coming back from partying from over wherever he was partying. He got in the habit of parking his little MG car wherever the heck he wanted to. Sometimes he parked it, well at that point in time there used to be a nice wooded area where the apartments are now. And there was a row, a hedge row separating the parking lot from that little area. And there were a couple of times he drove through the hedge. I mean let’s face it, he was driving drunk, and he was parking wherever he wanted to.

So one night some of us are sitting around, we see him come back. He pulls that little MG up and he just wedges it. Basically takes up a couple of parking spaces because he comes in drunk, he comes in crooked. And so we watched him stumble in to his room, like 'you know what? We’re going to teach him a lesson'.

So there were six of us and interesting enough, six guys, especially six young guys, can pick up a MG. With three guys on each side you can get it maneuvered. If you have enough guys you can pick it up. We didn’t have to do much because it’s a small car. So you know getting it to where we needed to, of course it was a manual so you know all we had to do was get in to it. That was easy to do with a coat hanger. We popped right in to it. So anyway, we put it in Kenrick. We weren’t content to just put it in Kenrick. We wanted to make it as difficult as possible for it to be gotten out. So instead of leaving it length wise we did it width wise. And so we got it in there and we turned it. The next morning people start showing up for class. First person opens up the door and there’s the car. Most people start laughing about it and it’s not until someone alerts security, “Yo, hey! There’s a car”. By that time there are students all over the place. And of course we’re watching. And in fact I even had class that morning. We’re just all watching so security goes to Brent’s door. They knock on the door and of course Brent, he’s hung over. He comes walking to the door with his bathrobe on. Security says “We need you to move your car”. And of course he goes “Okay sure. Where did I leave it?”. They say “Just bring your keys and come with us. We need to move this car.” They don’t tell him where it’s at. They start walking in the direction of Kenrick and Maurelian. They start walking him up the stairs to Kenrick and he realizes about halfway up the stairs. Open up the door, and there’s his MG sitting in Kenrick. They immediately start looking for people to help. Nobody will help. Finally a group of people got together and helped.”

Amber- “Did they find out it was y’all?”

Steve- “Eventually. We didn’t come clean right away because we didn’t want to get in trouble. But it was one of those things that you wanted credit for. We started telling people and eventually it got out since it was a small campus. Everyone knows everyone on campus, including faculty and staff. Some of my friends were my professors. I played different sports and things with them. But of course things were different back then. The drinking age at the time was 19, and the BUC was a real bar. They had drinks specials that matched other restaurants. It was a lot looser. You could call up the cafeteria up if you were having a party in your room to get a keg. We stole golf carts. Most of the time they knew who was doing it, but they didn’t go after anyone because no one was getting hurt. I’m glad, since I’m a dad, that it is a little more controlled now. Other schools, like at U of M, had alcohol policies. We didn’t have one. There are people who are 10, 15 years older than me and they said it had come down. I know a lot of people that went to CBC. For instance, there was a group of 14 couples that came to CBC, got married and there hasn’t been one divorce. We raised our kids in the same parish, and some came to CBU together. Now I think you understand why I wouldn’t change my decision.”

Amber- “What doors has CBC opened?” Did you use your history degree?”

Steve- “No. I’m in IT [Information Technology]. But I read an article that said for every practicing attorney in the U.S., there were 14 pre law and law school students. I was taking a criminal justice class, which was taught by a judge. Which was a good thing about CBC because they didn’t have a lot of liberal arts teachers, they brought people in. I didn’t have a business background. I took what I wanted to take, and never gave any thought to anything other than law school. My buddy of mine, an engineering major, called me up. He had taken a job at the cotton company doing daily entry. They wanted him to find someone who could help him through the cotton season, and he called me. So I got the job because of my connection with David who I met here. I had gone from daily entry to computer operation to writing code in six months. Three of the head people went to CBC as well. One of the most interesting things was that I was working for a staffing company a few years back in between IT consultant gigs. I had my bio on the website; it said that I went to CBC and had a double major. We get a call from South Carolina who had no connection to me. They said they wanted to hire me because of the reputation of CBC. People went there to work, and they didn’t know anything about CBC. They only knew about people that went there. CBU has so many different connections in the job force.”

Amber-“ Thank you for your time!”