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Customs from the 1920s: Home

Welcome to Albright College's Past






Green Bows and 'Reasonable' Requests:

Present Customs Regulations Differ Vastly From Those Used In 1920s

Customs, a long-standing Albright tradition, will greet this year's freshman class Tuesday. Although the name for these frosh regulations has remained the same, the customs provisions have undergone vast changes as the freshman orientation program evolved during the last 33 years.

Even before Schuylkill College merged with Albright in 1928, a customs program had been developed. In 1924, male freshmen were required to wear black caps (Schuylkill's colors were orange and black) and black bow ties, while women sported bows of green ribbon (to designate "greenies"). These regulations were in effect both on and off campus.

Tobacco Taboo

The use of tobacco on campus was forbidden, as was leaving the campus after 7:30 p.m. unless accompanied by an upperclassman. Men were not to "loiter with the ladies on campus." 

Customs were then administered by the sophomore class, and, in addition to the above, included the stipulation that freshmen were "expected to comply with an reasonable request."

No Lounging

Freshmen were the last to leave chapel exercises and could not lounge on the chapel steps or wear high school emblems.

Late in the 1930s the administering of customs took a serious turn with the dedication of the program to constructive ends. Now using Albright's colors, the frosh wore red and white dinks and buttons. Women also wore white stockings with red anklets and men red ties and garters, plus suit coats.

Frosh were to "admit humbleness by using rear entrances to the campus and buildings." They carried matches and toothpicks fo the use of upperclassmen. A freshman handbook had made its appearance by this time, as had the still-continued custom of buttoning -- but just for the men.

A tuxedo was required in the wardrobe of each man. Mass activity was planned for the forsh on the field between Teel Hall and Science Hall and an annual frosh-soph tug-of-war was established.

Freshmen were to learn the Alma Mater, plus  the other songs and cheers of the college. Class precedence was to be observed--frosh were to answer telephones and allow upperclassmen to enter buildings first. 

By 1940 Student Council had taken over the administration of the customs program and again reaffirmed the principle that customs were to help the frosh become better Albrightians. The tuxedo and toothpick rules were eliminated, but a tribunal was organized to deal strictly with offenders.

It was even recommended by students that consistent offenders be expelled. Frosh had to carry the books of upperclass students.

Threaten Revolt

The enforcement program was evidently successful because by 1943 the frosh threatened revolt against such punishment as washing the hair of upperclass students, men dressing like women and shouting the time from key campus spots  at five-minute intervals, and women wearing feather hats, men's shoes, and burlap bags.

Periodic lineups of the entire freshman class were held, often on the terrace behind the science hall, where the frosh presented skits and other entertainment for the upperclassmen.

"Gentling" of customs was the watchword of 1946, when the terms "tribunal" and "haze" were dropped from use. Signs (6 inches by 12 inches) stating the bearer's offense were used as punishments. Women were forbidden to wear lipstick.

Customs became stricter in the early-1950s. In addition to the wearing of dinks and buttons, men wore red and white ties and women one red and one white sock. Frosh were required to greet upperclassman with "good morning' or "good afternoon" coupled with "sir" or "madame."

The rules regarding carrying the handbook (by now called the Compass), lipstick, and buttoning were continued, while at this time the frosh had to SING the Alma Mater.

UR Established

Upperclassmen Row (the walk between the administration building and White Chapel Hall) was set up as a forbidden area for freshmen. 

Men were to be cleanly shaven at all times and activities were planned for the frosh during the halftime intermission at home football games. Freshmen were still the last to leave chapel.

Punishment for offenders consisted of wearing signs, decorating for football games, raking  leaves, and helping in the canteen.

But despite continued efforts on the part of the student sponsors of teh program, upperclass apathy plagued customs. When, in 1955 (Albright's Centennial Year), the customs period was enlarged from the traditional four to six weeks to eight in order that customs be in effect for homecoming, enforcement of the regulations fell apart.

Customs Revised

A questionnaire relating to customs was distributed to the students in the spring of 1956 and the regulations were revised in accordance with the wishes of the students beginning last year.

1957 Customs

James Still, '59, chairman of the orientation and customs committees of Student Council, has announced the following freshman customs regulations for 1957:

All freshmen are to wear red and white dinks and identification badges, carry the Compass and be familiar with it, be able to recite the first verse of the Alma Mater, be cheerful and friendly to all other Albrightians, not wear high school insignia, attend designated pep rallies and football games, not use Upperclassman Row, and button when requested by an upperclassman.

Customs will be in effect on campus Monday through Friday inclusive from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sept. 17 to Oct. 17.


Source: The Albrightian, September 14, 1957