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Although the college's costs traditionally were modest, many students required extensive financial aid. In response, President Provine developed a comprehensive Self-Help Club, which included the construction of a low-priced dormitory, the acquisition of farm land adjoining the campus, purchasing a herd of dairy cattle, and constructing a dairy barn. The students' work would vary but would include janitorial and food service in the dormitory, full care of the dairy herd, the provision of milk and butter for the rest of the campus, and possibly other campus jobs as well. Student response was enthusiastic, and the plan was pronounced a success. But problems developed as students expected vacation at semester breaks and holidays while the cows did not. The idea had seemed so promising, but in 1919 the cows were sold and Ratliff became a regular dormitory. Through the years its use has varied in response to changing needs. In a sense, howerver, Ratliff Hall Stands as a monument to the special effort to assist needs students at a time when financial aid was very scarce.
Later, from 1936 to 1945, Ratliff was used as subsidized housing for ministerial students. Sometimes space was used for instructional purposes. After repeated remodeling, which included doubling its space, the building was recently judged unsuitable for dormitory use. Some rooms are made available as painting studios for art students. Although demolition has been considered, current thinking tilts toward full renovation as a modern dormitory, probably not very similar to the original building.