Happy Holidays, 1966

I pulled out an issue of the Thresher looking for a nice Christmas message and stumbled instead across angst. My goodness, you can feel the anxiety practically pulsing off this first editorial:


1966 was only the second year of tuition charges for Rice students and the old habits of mind formed at a university that provided an education free of charge still endured. Chief among these were a general indifference towards the struggles of the students with an unbendingly rigorous curriculum and, as seen here, with a schedule that gave them little relief even when on break. It didn’t take much longer, though, for the institution to realize that those students had become paying customers. Rice never stopped being rigorous, of course, but it did make adjustments in the way students were treated, from the addition of a wide variety of counseling and health services to changes in the academic calendar. In fact, not long after this editorial was published senior administrators began exploring all sorts of scheduling possibilities, including a move to a trimester system. Still not much fun in 1966, though.

Bonus: The winter garden by the South Servery is thriving.


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10 Responses to Happy Holidays, 1966

  1. Bob Toone says:

    My years (1962 – 1967) at Rice were stressful, demanding, and generally not a joyful time. But I look back to that time as being tremendously important to making me succeed in the years after, while knowing that nothing short of Paris Island could have been worse. I’m proud to have made it through and be a Rice graduate. And I’m so thankful that the attitude towards the students changed to be more compassionate and hospitable. Bob Toone WRC ’67

  2. Bill Peebles, Hanszen '70 says:

    My recollection of the ’65/’66 academic year was that 4 students committed suicide. Is this correct? I hope not. Maybe that’s some of the bitterness the writer feels.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I don’t know about this. I’ll look.

      The bitterness is pretty widespread.

      • Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt -- Rice Institute 1956 says:

        I can register 1 vote of Bitterness for the Institute Class of 1956.
        But I know of others.
        And I discussed with an All Southwest Conference football player of previous years the Bitterness of his Institute time.

        At least we were NOT paying for the lack of happiness of our college years.

      • Kathleen (Lewis) Amen '71 says:

        I remember hearing that the per capita suicide rate at Rice either when I was there (67-71) or just before was the highest in the nation. I have no idea if this is urban legend or truth. Regarding fall semester finals, my recollection is that my first year (67-68) they were after Christmas, but from then on were before. Is this correct?

        • Bob Toone says:

          Finals when I was there (1962-67) were after Christmas. Plus usually due was a major paper. Heaping on the stress level.

  3. marmer01 says:

    “Happy little filter tip world of parking tickets, bluebooks, and dexedrine.” Could that be any more 1960s?

  4. Bill Harris says:

    That was published at end of my first semester at Rice, and I do recall some things about the stress and do appreciate Bob’s comments, even as I had long since forgotten the editorial.

    I recall one or more professors (in EE, perhaps) a few years later encouraging us to get involved in things outside of class because we’d never have more free time than we had in school, what with jobs, family, kids, studying to keep up with new developments in our fields, and the like. I didn’t believe it at the time, but I did for a while find a job that made that statement come true.

    • Bill Harris says:

      (I hit send prematurely.) I wonder if professors of the time were “heaping on the stress level” because they figured they were preparing us for the world as they were experiencing it.

    • Bill Harris says:

      I should note that the professors were, I seem to recall, encouraging us to get involved in things that helped society, the sort of thing that Rice seems to emphasize more these days.

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