Rules for Freshmen . . . in 1908!

A steamy summer has arrived in Austin, and with it comes another orientation season on the UT campus. Starting in June and continuing into mid-July, seven, three-day sessions will attempt to acquaint new students with the inner workings of the University. It’s a daunting task, but UT now provides a wealth of programs to help Greenhorns adapt to life on the Forty Acres. The Gone to Texas convocation held on the night before classes begin in the fall, Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs), Freshman Seminar classes, the Freshman Leadership Organization (FLO), Camp Texas, and more, are intended to support and help new students integrate into the University community.

But such was not always the case. The freshman class of 1908 would have perused the Texan student newspaper and discovered a less-than-cheerful set of guidelines penned by some of the upperclassmen. Published in the October 3rd edition, near the start of the fall quarter, were a dozen rules for the male freshmen. (Click on the photo to see a larger version.)

All are silly, and the word “freshmen” is always printed with a small “f”: “freshmen are warned not to wear gym suits to chapel,” or, “freshmen are hereby granted leave to appear in our opera houses in the ‘peanut’ [peanut gallery = back seats] ONLY.”

Most of the guidelines are self-explanatory, but a few might need some explanation.

Rule five: “freshmen shall uncover their knots immediately on entering the buildings, or on encountering any UPPER CLASSMEN.” A knot, in this case, is a head. Freshmen were asked to doff their hats as they went inside, or whenever they met a “higher ranking” upperclassman.

Rule seven: “freshmen are hereby positively forbidden perip. and corridor courses,” refers to the Peripatos, or “Perip” for short, the sidewalk that encircled the Forty Acres. It was a popular activity to stroll the Perip with a date, or follow the Varsity Band on one of its promenade concerts, with stops along the way for dancing and sing-alongs. And the corridors of the old Main Building were the places to meet friends between classes. In short, the rule stated that freshmen shouldn’t be seen at the popular hangouts around campus.

Rule eight: “freshmen shall report dilligently to Dr. Henry Reeves for mental ablutions.” Neither a Ph.D. nor a medical doctor, Henry Reeves was hired on as a custodian for the gymnasium in 1897, and for more than two decades became a popular and valuable assistant to the football team as a self-taught physical trainier. “Doc” Henry patched up injured UT athletes at home and on the road, and was quick to lend a sympathetic ear and offer encouragement and advice to everyone.

After reading the other rules, some freshmen might have been anxious to make an appointment with the friendlier “Dr. Reeves.”

Image from the October 13, 1908 issue of the Texan student newspaper.

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