Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It Was Quite A Year

As the University settles into another academic year, it's quite interesting to take a look back at our freshman year at Vanderbilt in the fall of 1969.

While lots of things have clearly changed in 35 years. For example, check out tuition. Or check out the new Commons where all the freshman now live on the old Peabody campus and compare the living quarters there to what we had in Kissam and Branscomb.

Nevertheless, looking back through the headlines of THE HUSTLER, you can see a lot of things occurred our first year that began traditions that still endure today:

September 12, 1969: Quadrangles over overflow with 1,195 freshman

We were the largest freshman class to ever come to Vanderbilt up until that time. To say the least, the University wasn't fully prepared, with some of us sleeping four people to a lounge. And those areas really weren't designed for anybody to sleep there!

September 12, 1969: Women Get Permission To Live Off Campus

Now this didn't apply to freshmen but it sure was something a number of the coeds of the Class of 1973 eventually took advantage
of for living arrangements. And to think, just a few years before, VU coeds were not allowed to wear shorts or pants on campus.

September 16, 1969: Freshman Say Parietals Now!

A lot of us were outraged to learn when we got to campus that opposite-sex dorm room visitation was set to begin in all campus dorms, except for freshmen. We raised hell, and demanded equal treatment.

October 17, 1969: Frosh Parietals To Begin For Spring Semester

We win! Parietals is a right every freshman class has enjoyed ever since we came to campus and demanded it 35 years ago. That is, except for Stapleton Hall, which voted not to implement parietals, earning the ever-lasting nickname, at least for our class, of "Sterile Stapleton."

November 4, 1969: Committee Begins Research, Planning for Co-ed Dorm

Another campus housing innovation which began back in our day. Landon House was the first co-ed dorm on campus, but soon others, like Carmichael Towers, would follow in the next few years. But across Tennessee not everyone liked co-ed dorms. In fact, by our senior year, in the winter and spring of 1973, the State General Assembly considered a bill to ban co-ed dorms, and finally passed it in 1974. Fortunately, Governor Winfield Dunn vetoed the measure and it stuck.

December 16, 1969: Manager Refuses Service: Youth Picket Pancake Pantry

It's always been a great place to eat in nearby Hillsboro Village (with pancakes to die for). But in the fall of our freshmen year, those with long hair were not welcome. That has fortunately long since changed,and the long line you see outside the Pantry today is not a protest, it's just all the folks waiting to get inside to eat!

April 3, 1970: Second Semester Rush Instituted

Another change that began when we came to campus. It was met with cries that it would kill the Greek system. But the University felt it best to give freshman a chance to settle in on campus for a semester before holding rush and that's the way it still is today.

April 21, 1970: Pre-Christmas Exams for 1970-71, PE Out

Remember how you'd forget everything you knew over Christmas break, then have to come back to school in January for final exams? And remember how PE was a required course for all freshmen? Well, that changed after our freshmen year and it probably helped everyone's GPA, if not our waistlines. Why didn't we try to end 8:00 AM classes too?

All in all it was quite a freshman year, especially when you add in the Vietnam Student Moratoriums (October & November 15, 1969); Chicago 7 Attorney William Kunstler speaking at the IMPACT symposium in February (and angering Governor Buford Ellington); the very first Earth Day activities in April, 1970; the Cambodian Invasion/Kent State protests in early May that led the faculty to vote to close Peabody College.

So what are your memories of our freshman year? Please leave your thoughts below.

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