High Tech with a Human Touch
The Jungle and the School House (1883)
Florida Tech students call this part of campus "the jungle." A hundred years ago the first African American settlers along Crane Creek called this area "Cathead" because "the area was full of wild cats and panthers. We would see them peering at us from the trees. But they never harmed anyone," according to a local farmer.
Melbourne's first school house rests at Florida Tech, this 9' by 12' school house opened its door for the first time in 1883. The first class of students was made up of both African-Americans and whites meeting in separate sessions. In 1971, members of the Inter-Fraternity Council moved the school house to its present site. They placed the school house on a coquina rock foundation that was part of the original foundation of Florida Agricultural College, the state's first land-grant university. Therefore, the "real" foundation of higher education in the state of Florida rests beneath this little schoolhouse at Florida Tech.
During the 1950s Jim Crow and segregation were widespread in Florida. Florida Tech championed the cause of equality of opportunity in Brevard County. In 1959, Brevard Engineering College rented three classrooms in a local middle school. A county school official learned that two African Americans had enrolled in Florida Tech classes at that site and told President Keuper to "expel the black students or be evicted." The college moved its classes to another site. Years later, Keuper remarked that if it had not been for the "eviction notice," the college might still be renting classrooms.