Apologies are Issued

I got called out during my Continuing Studies class the other night by some troublemakers in the back row, led by that rascal Leonard Lane. I now find myself compelled to admit that they were right. I had misidentified the location of a photograph:

The site of this long past freshman humiliation is, of course, West Hall, lately known as Hanszen College. Roughly here:

The Rice History Corner regrets, but is not particularly surprised by, the error.

Also, I’ll be out of town for the rest of the week–in a bit of an upset I won’t be in Omaha. I will not, however, have any internet access so I won’t be back until Monday. Please carry on without me until then.

Bonus: It was a dreary day on campus yesterday, brightened by some signs of spring.

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14 Responses to Apologies are Issued

  1. Leoguy says:

    Melissa, thank you for admitting your mistake. Now that you’ve made one, your next one will be much easier to admit. Trust me. I’ve been there.
    I recognized the setting in the photograph because the windows on the left were my room during my senior year (73-74) at Hanszen.
    Not to mention, during my freshman year we, too, were subjected to certain “rituals” by the upperclassmen in that very area of the college.
    Ah, the good old days!

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:


      I think our class was the last to have formal ‘guidance’, some of which did take place on that very sidewalk. I also had those rooms I think for 74-75 and 75-76. Freshman serving lasted two more years. I know the last year of it was fall of 73. That was the first year of Hanszen being coed and the freashman ladies did have to serve. I think Dr. Baker stopped it and moved to a group service (people at the table rotated the various duties). The death knell as I recall was when the boyfriend of one the the freshman started carrying her tray to the catcalls of the rest of the commons

      • Leoguy says:

        All true. 73-74 was the first year women “officially” lived in Hanszen. And, it was the beginning of a much more civilized College, in my opinion.
        By the way, the freshman orientation was essentially harmless fun. No “hazing” was involved in my experience, unless running across campus after dark clad only in your underwear is considered hazing.
        On the other hand (or butt?), the ice cube race was uncomfortable.

      • Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

        When I lived in Hanszen in 1976-1978, Freshman serving was still the rule. I was in the band (which practiced just before dinner), so we got to set tables instead.

  2. effegee says:

    Signs of spring… but no picture of new antics of the Italian cypresses? Surely they can’t all be just standing around perpendicular to the ground….

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      If everything at Rice be perpendicular to the ground, it’s probably a good thing, even if far-fetched.

  3. Barney L. McCoy says:

    This picture is set at the scene of the infamous “Polar Bear Race” in which freshmen from one section of Hanszen competed against freshmen from other sections during “guidance.” Sophmores wet down with a waterhose the sallyport’s tile surface and you sat on a large block of ice, scooted down to one end and back. The problems are obvious: the ice is cold , slippery and starting to melt; the tile is uneven (it was 50 years old at this point); and the sophmores delighted in occasionally missing a spot with the waterhose or in blasting you in the face. Inevidently, at least once, you would come flying off the ice block to a roar of laughter (from both your freshmen friends and the dastardly sophmores. Barney L. McCoy Hanszen 67

    • Leoguy says:

      Thanks for reminding me of the event name, Barney. Polar Bear Race it was!

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

      By our year (and it may have been in previous years) some of the observers would also toss items at the racers. The worst was the chad from the keypunch machines which was actually potentially dangerous if they got into your eyes

  4. Dr. Michael O'Connell says:

    I entered Rice as a member of the class of ’56 and left after my first year, lettering in baseball. I have never seen any admission by any Rice source about the systematic, painful, and abusive behavior I and my freshman classmates suffered at the hands of the sophomores in South Hall. This included beating with long wooden paddles, nude a**hold golf in the hallways, covered in syrup and feathers with the showers turned off, and more. I left Rice and joined the Marine Corps and played baseball for the Marines. I later earned Masters and Doctorate degrees at Harvard, and have had a successful career in computer technology and as a clinical psychologist.

    Rice lost a good one; the Marines and Harvard gained a good one. And Rice continues to ignore, belittle, or deny that deplorable behavior. That’s why your annual fund drives fall on deaf ears here.

    Dr. Michael O’Connell, ’56

    • Grungy says:

      It is sobering to think that Rice sophomores were harder to endure than a Marine drill sergeant.
      Thank you for writing here – I don’t ignore, but in almost 40 years of involvement with Rice I’d never heard of this before.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      You were NOT entirely alone in some of your feelings, Mike.
      I have noted that on a Post to Our 1956 website.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I’ve heard similar stories from others. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the people in positions of authority at Rice let this go on.

      • Barney L. McCoy says:

        By the early 60’s the residential college system was well established and the forms taken by “guidance” were peculiar to each college. In Hanszen, hazing was replaced by a somewhat silly system that for the most part did force freshmen to get to know upperclassmen and to develope a sense of comeraderie. On Fridays, you had to wear your vest, beanie and nametag, and you had to say “Hello” to all Hanszen upperclassmen. Midweek, there were competitions between sections such as the Polar Bear races. Infractions of the rules of Guidance resulted in a punishment known as a “shack run”, in which the guilty frosh had to go around to the upperclasmen in his section and take orders to be filled at the Someburger across the street. I never heard fom my friends at Wiess, Baker or Will Rice that hazing took place there. It saddens me to hear that Rice had allowed such barbaric behavior when Dr. O’Connell was there. Barney L, McCoy Hanszen 67

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