By Elizabeth Stewart
100 Years Ago
Southwestern evolves constantly, a reminder of which can be found in the microfilm archives of the Megaphone at the library. A century ago the Megaphone featured an article called “A Few Facts About Southwestern University”, and these few facts provide a glimpse into the past.
“The enrollment at Southwestern is about 750, of which one fourth are girls. Many of the boys are studying for the ministry, and in this respect Southwestern renders a very valuable service to Texas Methodism,” an unidentified student wrote in the January 19, 1912 issue.
The size and makeup of the student body has changed drastically, as have the activities that students pursue. However, an enthusiasm for new athletics programs was as much a hallmark of the Southwestern community as it is now, although in 1912, a different sport was under development. As much as Southwestern prepares for the reinstatement of the football team these days, in 1912 students were lobbying for the introduction of Basketball into their Athletics Department.
“There is one respect, however, in which it seems we are falling just a little behind some of the other colleges in that no basketball team is being trained to represent us,” a student wrote. “There will come very soon, no doubt, or perhaps there have already come, challenges from other colleges of basketball. Southwestern should not be one whit behind the very best college in Texas.”
One hundred years later, with twice as many students, more than half of which are women, and less than a quarter of which are “studying for the ministry”, the university will once again have both a Basketball team and a football team.
75 Years Ago
Twenty five years later, the climate of Southwestern University changed dramatically. In 1937 the question on everyone’s mind was that of the burgeoning “War of Nations”, which would later be known as World War II.
“We cannot ignore the powder keg upon which the world is sitting while Mussolini and Hitler are striking matches on it,” a student wrote. The still primarily male student body worried about what another world war would mean for their education, a premature but apt concern.
“Will I be called away from my typewriter and my friends and placed in a training camp? Are we again to fight and die in some foreign land to make the world ‘safe for democracy’?” one student wrote. On the eve of a war long over by now, Southwestern students grappled with the same questions that students today ask about the U.S. Military presence in the Middle East.
As Southwestern men worried about the draft, Southwestern women experienced a different call to action. An article titled “Girls to the Front!” urged the women of Southwestern to put their hard-fought political power to use.
“The suffrage woman is given fifty per cent responsibility in the field of citizenship and government, and there is as much reason why she should be concerned with public questions as is the other sex,” a student wrote. In 1937, Southwestern was not yet a liberal university, yet the foundation for the present day model of liberal education was evident even seventy-five years ago.
“When both boys and girls study because they are interested, and engage in discussions because they want to understand the world in which they live, and to make their own contribution toward its welfare, then we are getting somewhere. Girls, it’s a goodly fellowship. We need your help and want your company,” a student wrote.
In the last seventy-five years, Southwestern University has undergone many changes and seen the end of the war that worried its students in 1937, yet this model of education remains the same.
50 Years Ago
The year 1962 welcomed a new set of social issues, as well as several additions to the campus. The Pi Kappa Alpha and Kappa Alpha fraternity houses were both opened in the spring, along with the coed Kurth Hall, named in honor of Ernest L. Kurth and his contributions to the Board of Trustees.
These openings coincided with a time of conflict, as the university faced the same change that every school across the nation did: that of racial integration. A wrap-up of a Race Seminar featured a discussion of the various roles that students and faculty would play in the process of integration.
“Dr. Shattock stresses that the issue of integration is one of the pressing problems of our time. He went on to say that there is no such thing as race superiority, as a whole race,” student Don Ward wrote of the lecture given by UT professor Dr. Roger Shattock.
Integration was not the only way that the university looked toward the future in 1962. With the population of the United States exploding, the university wondered at the technology that would support this growth.
“An image of the future city was a task for the imagination. Skyscrapers hundreds of stories high would be common. People can carry pocket-size, wireless phones. People will converse with one another on a global scale, and talkers will view each other,” student Georgianna Wynne wrote.
As wielders of these pocket-size wireless phones and users of Skype and FaceTime, the students of today fulfill this prophecy, as well as embodying the multiracial and multicultural campus that was envisioned in 1962.
25 Years Ago
In 1987, the political focus shifted yet again, this time to the Cold War, animal rights, and issues of health in the wake of an increasing consciousness of the AIDS epidemic. Members of the Student Coalition for an Organized Peace Effort (S.C.O.P.E.) participated in a rally protesting nuclear testing in Nevada. Of the two thousand Americans protesting, four hundred were arrested, one of which was Southwestern student Tasha Clark.
“She would rather spend time than pay a fine because it shows devotion to the cause of peace,” student Kenny Simon wrote about Clark.
Although termed civil disobedience, the protesters viewed their endeavor as much more. Students in 1987 were devoted to creating change in more ways than one.
“Their objective was to cause change within the system through the application of a comprehensive strategy to achieve a specific goal,” Simon wrote. (Vol. 81, February 20, 1987 Issue 19)
In an article titled “Meat is Murder (And Suicide)”, Duncan Cormie supported PETA’s agenda by listing the health hazards that arise from a diet high in meat products.
“Most people don’t care to do anything about the hunger problem or the ecology problem or even the abuse of animals. People do care about themselves though,” Cormie wrote.
These various political agendas took place against the backdrop of the Austin music scene, which, in 1987, was headlining artists like Billy Joel and Chuck Berry.
“The legendary kind of rock and roll, Chuck Berry, returns to Paramount Theatre. Concert tickets are priced at $17.50 and $15.50,” a student wrote.
Since then, the prices of concert tickets have gone up, cell phones have shrunk, and personal computers have become commonplace. However, in 1987, college students were just getting acquainted with the computer, ergo the topic of the 1987 Brown Symposium: “Pandora’s Box: Computers in Everyday Life”.
“Computers and computing impinge on our lives in ways that we don’t even think about anymore,” a student wrote. “The symposium emphasized the multifarious directions modern computing is going, and how this will affect everyday life.”
The symposium included a reassurance from Joseph Deken that artificial intelligence would not, in fact, take over the world and a satellite lecture from science fiction author Isaac Asimov.
Throughout the last century, Southwestern faced the changing times with that same “desire to understand the world in which we live” that an unidentified Megaphone writer mentioned back in 1937, a philosophy the student who writes this article one hundred years from now will see when they look up archives of the Megaphone from the year 2012.