Last week I got an email from a curious reader that raised a question I don’t know how to answer:
Although I understand you’re not a fan of O-week, I wonder if you’d be interested in the history of the name. Before Christy Moore and I were coordinators at Hanszen in 1984 or ‘85, I had the impression it was still called Orientation Week. Christy and I definitely referred to it as O-week, but I wonder where and with whom that started.
Hope you’re well!
Yours in curiosity,
Hannah Baker Hitzhusen
It’s true that I don’t much care for O-week as it is currently constituted. It would have made me miserable, but I can see that the students do seem to enjoy it. In any event, Hannah’s question is a good one. I did a quick look in the archives but it would take more time to figure this out than I have to devote to it.
So here’s a place to start. In 1970 we had Freshman Week (which looks much more congenial to me):
At some point this became known as Orientation Week and at some time after that we started calling it O-week. What I’d like to know is what did they call it when you arrived as a freshman?
Bonus: Meanwhile, some things never change.
This picture of an Italian cypress on its way from the FE&P yard to the academic quad was sent in by a regular reader. (Thanks!)
And here it is going in:
As I watched this process I was a bit surprised to realized that I’ve developed some emotional attachment to these trees. They’re like brave little soldiers. “Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more.”
This is the report from my Freshman Year, 1970.
As noted, we called it Freshman Week. I also served as a sophomore adviser the next year and we still called it Freshman Week.
I recall one interesting occurrence that I believe happened during my Freshman Week. It was Dr. Hackerman’s first year as President of Rice and there was an event or some type of ceremony in the RMC where he and other faculty members spoke. It may be the matriculation address listed in the schedule. During the course of that ceremony, a number of the chairs (along with some of the faculty) fell off the back of the temporary platform that had been set up.
1970 was my freshman week as well. I certainly remember Dr. Hackerman’s matriculation address, but don’t recall the collapsing platform. Thanks for sharing!
I believe it was Orientation Week by 1978. And we called it o-week. But my memory isn’t what it used to be.
“Once more *unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”
In 1968 it was called “two a Days”. I guess that’s because the freshman football players simply showed up, got physicals, and immediately suited up to provide fodder for the varsity. To this day, I feel rather cheated that no one ever showed me where the zoo was or how to catch the metro.
When I arrived in 1962, we had Freshman Week. This consisted of college and university mixers, beach parties with the women’s colleges, a musical play, (Bye, Bye, Birdie), and the Slime Parade down Main Street to the Shamrock Hotel. The hardest part to get used to was no air conditioning in the WRC dorms !
Bob Toone, WRC ’67
Arriving at Rice in ’77, we definitely had a full “Freshman Week” which was filled with meetings about different things — academic advising, athletics, honor code, etc. In addition, it included a full Matriculations in the RMC at which President Hackerman talked about looking the the people on both side of you, knowing that at least one of the three of you wouldn’t make it through to graduation! Cannot imagine those were really the relevant numbers! At the time, Brown was single sex and the lunchtimes were filled with our freshman group meeting male freshmen groups all around campus so that we could (a) meet guys, and (b) become familiar with more of the colleges than just our own. We really didn’t go to the coed colleges, unfortunately. The evenings were filled with social events (beer and wine flowed freely — the drinking age was 18 at the time.) The night of Matriculation everyone dressed up because we all went clubbing afterwards, matched up with male college groups. It was the age of disco, and discos abounded. Freshman Week also included a dinner at the master’s house, and also dinner off campus at the freshman group’s academic advisor’s home — in my case, Dr. John Ambler. It was a really, really fun week!
The Matriculation Address speaker in Fall 1969 laid the blame for “look to your left, look to your right,…” on former President Kenneth Pitzer. That year was a year without a president and following the Masterson affair, so I am unclear if the speaker was Acting President Vandiver or another member of the faculty.
Fall 1969 it was Freshman Week.
I searched the available “General Announcements” (which only start 2001-2002). The first reference to “o-week” is on page 113 of the 2004-2005 GA. Publication in the General Announcement is arguable the “official” adoption of the term. Its appearance in the Rice Thresher goes back to at least Vol. 77, No. 2 (August 25, 1989) which was the start of “o-week extra dry”.
arguable -> arguably
Bob Toone’s comment is the closest in time to when I arrived on campus, and his description sounds like what was offered in 1956, my freshman year, but I did not participate. It was not mandatory. The kids who did received introduction to Math 100. Having missed that, I discovered on Day 1 of classes that my proposed major of SE Math was not going to work. I ended up in ME. The Slime Parade in both 1956 and 1957 was held during the fall semester. Our class was the last to endue “Freshman Guidance”, Aggie-style hazing. We did not get to inflict it on the next class.
“Endue” above should, of course, be “endure”.. As for “look to the left, look to the right”, no telling when that originated. Dr. Houston used it in 1956, and in our case, he was probably not far off the mark. I understand that Rice is much more user-friendly these days. Horror story back then.
My favorite orientation moment was a remark that Dr. Hackermann made, sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. In his Matriculation remarks, he told the students that their next four years were their last real chance to experiment without fear of serious consequences. I assumed, at the time, that he intended them to experiment with majors, clubs, activities, and the like. Of course, the students immediately interpreted his remarks as an endorsement of all kinds of activities that Hackermann was unlikely to encourage
In the early 80s it was called Freshman Week or Orientation Week. “O-week” as an official term, and the use of it to create puns for the shirts (“Jell-o Week,” for example) came about later, although I seem to remember people using the term in conversation.
During the March 22, 1977 Baker cabinet meeting the following amendment was proposed which essentially replaced the term Freshman week with Orientation Week. The amendments were approved the following week. Here is an excerpt from from the minutes for the amendments but it is a little hard to read without the entire set of baker cabinet Minutes.
More bylaw changes: (approved as a 1st reading. Tabled.)
Number 9, paragraph 2, last sentence: “(e.g. freshman week fund…)” To “… Orientation week fund…”
Number 10 (B) (3) (d): orientation –…” Freshman orientation” to “orientation of new students”
Number 11 Freshman Orientation to “Orientation of New Students”
After paragraph 2 ends “Code of Conduct and the Bylaws” ad sentence: “if possible, the Chief Justice, if not already a mentor, should be included in Orientation Week activities for this person.”