Since last week’s post about the origin of the freshman beanie I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how to characterize the particular quality of those early Institute classes. I still haven’t committed to any particular language but I did go back and have another look at that 1921 R Book from which I’ve drawn a couple of posts.
There’s a section in it called “Student Spirit” that I think gets at what I’m talking about:
It’s that idea of democracy and self-reliance that is so notable among these students. They felt free to build their own traditions and govern their own relations. It wasn’t that they were unsupervised by the adults on campus—trust me, if they violated rules real wrath would be unleashed by the administration–but that that they were allowed and then exercised a great deal of creative freedom as long as they stayed within the rather limited number of hard and fast rules. It gave them the sense of pride and ownership that is so easy to see in this excerpt. It stayed with them for their whole lives too. Anyway, I’m still thinking about it.
Bonus: Every time I see this window open I wait a minute to see if the Pope will come out.