When the students gathered in the Physics Amphitheater in 1922 and heard the statement banning clubs there was no doubt at all which clubs were about to disappear. A small group of exclusive social clubs had taken root on campus, slowly at first and then with increasing speed. Unlike the Literary Societies, which had already begun to take on some aspects of sororities but which also had intellectual and literary goals, these clubs had no purpose other than camaraderie with like minded and similarly situated friends.
Here’s an article about the origins of the most exclusive of these clubs from the Society page of a Houston magazine called La Revue:
By the 1921-22 school year several more of these exclusive groups had sprung up. There were now Alpha Rho and Samurai for men and Blue Moon, Hoots, and Beta Sigma for the young women in addition to the Idlers and Tattlers, who were at the very top of the social order. I’m not sure whether it’s surprising or not, but the growth of these clubs set off a reaction among the rest of the student body, which began organizing itself in opposition. Thus was born the Toilers club, made up of students who did not count themselves among the privileged group who could afford the entertainments (and the clothes) enjoyed by the members of these social clubs.
The conflict simmered for much of the year, including a battle between the Alpha Rho club and the freshman football team, and for the first time in Rice’s history serious fault lines began develop within the student community. It exploded into open conflict during the late spring campus elections when the Toilers and their allies voted as a block to prevent the election of any club members to leadership positions in student government. Although the notion that Rice’s awful athletics record was somehow the result of all the internal conflict seems like a bit of a stretch, this letter to the Thresher gives a pretty good sense of how badly divided the student body was at this moment:
You already know how it ends but there’s one more interesting twist for tomorrow.
Bonus: It’s spring.