1952: A Handbook for Greenhorns

Browse the 1952 Freshman Orientation Guide

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April has arrived, and the University’s Office of New Student Services is busy finalizing plans for this summer’s orientation program for incoming freshmen and transfer students. Each of the six, three-day sessions will be packed with information about life on the UT campus, Longhorn traditions, academic advising, registration for classes, and plenty of advice for new students. (My own advice for freshmen is here.)

Recently, I acquired a copy of the 1952 freshman orientation booklet: A Handbook for Greenhorns. Authored and illustrated by a student committee, its pages provide an interesting glimpse of campus life more than six decades ago. Below are just a few excerpts, including registration in the un-air conditioned Gregory Gym, 8:30 p.m. curfews for freshmen women, a free “charm school” in the Texas Union, and a new “no smoking” rule in classrooms.

  • From Student to Student . . .

“You’re a University student now. But you’re not a University of Texas student. You haven’t got that knot inside that makes you a Longhorn. You don’t know what it is now, but you will.

“Maybe it’ll come to you when you’re strolling across the campus under a star-laden sky; or maybe in the evening when you short-cut across the southwest corner and hear the crickets; or maybe at a football game; or maybe it’ll just grow on you.”

“Try to keep two things in mind.

“First, be aware. Aware of the way you feel the minute you feel that way – -of the kicks at the game, the laughs at a student comedy, the inner passion inspired by a symphony, the warmth of a friendship, the simple pleasures of living a college life.

“Other thing is, cash in while you can. The best you can hope for at any college is to continue learning – – not to conclude your learning, but to continue it. If you cash in now – –  cash in on the knowledge that’s here for you – – then later on, you’ll have the knack of knowledge and go right on getting it; and maybe, still later, wisdom.”

  • First Daze at U.T.

“Yes, with your first look around the Forty Acres, everything seems big – – if not a little confusing.

“Everybody has a tough time getting through first registration.  . . . The simplest way to get out of a jam is the best way. Just walk up to somebody and ask them what to do, where you should go, or whom you should see. Folks are naturally friendly at the University, like everywhere else in Texas. Collar somebody and start talkin’.”

  • Gotta Place to Live? . . . Where You Hang Your Hat

“All undergraduates will live in University approved residences unless special permission is granted to live elsewhere.

“You women will have certain housing rules which must be followed –

“First-term freshman women may have 3 nights out a week after 8:30. Any evening spent out after 8:30, even though you were studying in the library or attending a club meeting, is counted as a night out. Your residences will be closed at 11 o’clock every night except Saturday when 12:45 is the deadline.

“You men should be familiar with these rules, too, because it will be part of your responsibility to get your date in on time.”

Above: Mezes, Batts, and Benedict Halls – along the east side of the South Mall – were constructed as a single project and opened in 1952.

  • Hard Cash . . .

“In order to give you an idea of the probable expense of going to the University, let us assume that you are a Texas resident, taking one lab course. You live in a rooming house, and eat your meals at the Commons [the Texas Union]:

“You must remember that this is a minimum, and does not include money for clothes, dating, cigarettes, cokes, and other ‘necessary’ expenses.”

  • What Students Do

“It is important to be a member of some groups, meet new people, and go to their social function – – but, take it from an old hand, choose your clubs carefully and only join those in which you have time to participate actively and which interest you most. There are more than 250 clubs of every description on campus.”

 

  • Student Sports

For men –

“The boys puff out their manly chests when they say the University is generally recognized as having one of the best all-round intramural programs for men in the entire country. The latest addition is lights for the Intramural Field. And to brag some more: These are the only ones of their type in this section of the country. Spectators who shout loudly and clap obnoxiously are welcome at all games.”

And for women –

“Besides regular gym classes, any girl with the required health grade can try out and perhaps become a member of a UTSA (University of Texas Sports Association) club.

“What’s your choice? There’s Bow and Arrow (archery), Canter Club (riding), Orchesis (modern dance), Poona (badminton), Racket Club (tennis), Strike and Spare (bowling), Tee Club (golf), Touche (fencing), Tumbling, and Turtle Club (swimming). UTSA is under guidance of Miss Anna Hiss, Director of Women’s Physical Training.”

  • Students’ Association

“The Students’ Association elects representatives for its student government both in the fall and in the spring. Assemblymen are elected in the fall, whereas the most colorful election is the one in the spring, when the president and other student body executive and judicial officers are decided. Colorful campaigning, with signs, stunts, and serenading add to the spirit of elections.”

Above: For several weeks each semester, the all-grass West Mall was filled with enormous – and creative – campaign signs for student government. Click on an image for a larger view.

  • ‘tenshun!

“The University of Texas is one of the few colleges in the country which has ROTC units of all three branches of our Armed Services: Army, Navy and Marine Corps, and Air Force.

“The objective of the ROTC programs is to develop the attributes of character, personality, and leadership which are indispensable to every college graduate, whether he remains a civilian upon graduation, or makes a career of the service.”

 

Left: The cartoon scene in this section of the freshman handbook wasn’t entirely fictional. From World War II until the 1957 completion of the ROTC Building on the East Mall (later named Russell Steindam Hall and now replaced by the Liberal Arts Building), the Naval ROTC was headquartered in the Littlefield Home, with a pair of anti-aircraft guns placed on each side of the front entrance. And in full view of the Tower.

 

 

  • Student Life Centers . . .

“You will find a ‘home away from home’ here at the center of student activities. Just a few of the conveniences offered a Lost and Found department, free dance classes, ping pong, chess, card playing, checking service, and television. In addition Pep rally dances, Friday Frolics, Talent Nights, and weekly movies are given free throughout the school year. Your Union offers bridge lessons, pop lectures, student-faculty discussions called Coffeorums, and frequent appearances of nationally known speakers.

“Students plan all activities through the work of ten committees. The Charm Committee offers a co-ed charm school and style show each semester. The Free Dance Committee handles the dances. The Talent Committee keeps a file of campus talent and provides programs for various groups.

“Besides offering numerous activities, you can find popular magazines, soft drinks, candy, cigarettes, and newspapers from all over the state. You paid your dollar Union fee this semester for the use of all of these facilities.”

Above: Opened in 1933, the Texas Union was the original campus center of student activities. Much of the first floor housed the “Commons,” a large University-wide cafeteria.

  • Traffic Regulations

“Since the 40 acres small parking on the campus is limited to those holding permits. These parking privileges are restricted are restricted to the faculty, staff and disabled students. Parking after 4:30 Friday, after 1:30 Saturday, all day Sunday is open to anyone who can find a place to park.”

 

  • There is a Place to Walk . . .

“This last year, many feet of side walk were put down so that you would be able to walk from place to place without getting your feet muddy (or ruining the grass). These walks were planned so that you will be able to get from one place to another without crossing any shrubs, flowerbeds or the like. In many cases they were laid over paths that students had worn through finding the shortest distance between two points. So as you establish your paths from building to building, conform to the walks and help keep our campus beautiful. “

  • And a Place to Smoke!

“You may be one of those students who feel uncomfortable without a smoke in your hand. If so, start curbin’ that desire as a rule was passed this last year prohibiting smoking (or beverage drinking) in the class rooms and other specified areas. So look before you smoke!”

  • Longhorn Yells and Songs

Above: As lights weren’t installed at the football stadium until 1956, home games were usually held at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. From the right seat, a Longhorn fan watched the game framed between two Austin landmarks: The UT Tower and the Texas Capitol.

Along with “The Eyes of Texas” and “Texas Fight,” UT students in 1952 had several favorite college yells. A pair of them – the Tex Fight Chant and Color Yell – were later incorporated into the Texas Fight song.

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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.