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ISSUE 117 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/10/2003

This Week at St. Olaf: 1903, 1953, and 1983

By Bethany Jacobson
Staff Writer

Friday, October 10, 2003

This week in 1903…

Subscriptions to the Manitou Messenger, then a monthly publication, were $1 per year. Students lauded the paper for its wealth of content, and claimed that it had more pages for a smaller price than most college newspapers in the area.

The front page featured a poem written in Norwegian by student O. E. Rolvaag, class of 1905, followed by an article, also written in Norwegian, on Romanticism versus Realism in Norwegian literature.

The issue of the month was whether colleges should change from four–year to three– year degrees, in deference to the need for students to get a jobs and start making money as soon as possible. A four-year college education was described as too long and too expensive with too many required courses, making it difficult for students to transition smoothly to a professional career. Since high schools were beginning to cover college level material, the writer argued that colleges needed to modify their curriculums. With more advanced high school curriculums, the writer suggested that a four–year college degree could quite easily fit into three years.

Faculty and staff began a “Societas Latina” to encourage the study of Latin beyond merely learning grammar. The Latin club gave students an in–depth knowledge of Latin culture, literature and politics.

In 1953…

First-year students breathed a collective sigh of relief as the end of hazing approached. To prepare, sophomores increased the frequency and intensity of their hazing. Not only did the first-years have to endure wearing beanies and suffer through unpredictable attacks with lipsticks and clippers, but they also had to follow a daily schedule:

On Wednesday, all first-years had to wear scarves and recite a short poem in Norwegian to the sophomores. On Thursday, first-years had to wear their clothing backwards. On Friday, they were forced to clean up the campus.

On Saturday, however, the month of hazing ended and all was forgiven. Sophomores treated the first-years to a picnic lunch and talent show, and numerous sporting events were open to all. That night, in what was probably the highlight of the week for the beleaguered first-years, the students were free to burn their beanies in a bonfire on Old Main Hill.

In 1983…

Faculty and students feared that continuing United States’ Marine involvement in Lebanon would lead to an altercation with the Soviet Union. Israel’s former Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, spoke to students in Boe Chapel on the “Middle East after Lebanon.”

Alpha Phi Omega, then an exclusively male fraternity, held an “Ugly Man” contest during Homecoming Week in order to raise money for the United Way of Northfield. Men or women were welcome to enter, using any means available to make their faces as ugly as possible. Students voted for the ugliest contestant by contributing cash, and the contestant who raised the most money received a $20 cash prize.

Art Professor Malcolm Gimse opened a display in Minneapolis of busts investigating spiritual forms of the Far East. The series showed Gimse as a Buddha, as well as in the guise of other spiritual leaders who had “inspired” him. Gimse called the exhibit “humorous, but abusive.”

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