Five-Dollar Days

After I wrote a post last week about unexcused absences someone wondered in the comments about when the practice died out. I really didn’t have any idea so I started poking around. In all honesty I still don’t know–but I’m getting closer.

I found these in a box of old materials from the registrar’s office, all from the 1950s. This first one, dated 1953, retains the no-nonsense tone of the notice from 1914 but there isn’t any mention of owing a fine for missing class:


I thought at first that meant the business of having to pay for unexcused absences had ended by 1953 but it turns out that I was very wrong. I was a bit surprised when I pulled these two 1958 policies out of the folder:



That’s pretty rough: a $5 fine for missing class right before or after a break with mandatory reporting. (My favorite line in all of this is “Of course, a particular student may be charged for both.” Why, of course! Obviously!) I’m of two minds about this. On one hand it suggests a profound seriousness about the enterprise. On the other hand, I think it’s generally a good idea to temper justice with mercy. Just in case you need it yourself.

I’ll keep looking.

Bonus: For reasons that are and shall remain entirely unclear, both these documents are addressed to Floyd Lear of the history department, about whom we’ve talked so much.


Extra Bonus: I had my first meeting ever in the NROTC building yesterday. A few questions later and I found myself in a room full of the old wooden rifles that we thought had long ago disappeared.


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5 Responses to Five-Dollar Days

  1. Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt Rice Institute 1956 says:

    I attended Rice Institute from Fall 1952, to graduation in 1956.

    I remember nothing about unexcused absences or penalty for such.
    I remember NO method for taking attendance. other than seating people alphabetically in the large lecture auditoriums (a? — but spellchecker doesn’t accept that). That was done early in the matriculation year but was NOT generally followed thereafter.

    • Bill Allison says:

      What is interesting is there was no change to attend (tuition) but a pretty steep charge not to attend! Related or coincidence?

  2. marmer01 says:

    I am very interested about why it was such a priority to keep students from leaving early or returning late? Of course this was before air travel was commonplace so most of them would have been working with train schedules. Presumably this must have been a serious enough problem that it led to some kind of faculty discussion and the creation of a policy. But in modern times one might think the same temptation would exist and it’s never been a problem that I’ve noticed.

  3. Lou Ann Montana says:

    If there is someday a “Rice History Corner History Corner”, I predict a post will feature the wonderful and profound statement above: “I think it’s generally a good idea to temper justice with mercy. Just in case you need it yourself.”

    Thank you Melissa! I wish I’d received that advice earlier in life! 😉

  4. Owlcop says:

    I don’t know if you noticed some of the interesting manufacturers of these rifles. RUPD used to share the armory space with NROTC, and I often looked longingly at them. During the war many manufacturers who could work metal began to produce weapons. These rifles have names like Remington, Rockola, and John Deere.

    I once talked to a man whose father ran a small electroplating business in Houston. The only reason he was able to stay in business at that time, using war priority chrome, was that he made Albert Thomas’ favorite fishing lure. That lure ended up being used in the survival packs for downed airmen.

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