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McCormick, Bart E. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 28, Number 3 (Jan. 1927)

Steven, William P.
From the freshman's viewpoint,   p. 97


Page 97


j7anuary, 1927
97
From The Freshman's Viewpoint
                       By WILLIAM P. STEVEN, '30
EVERY high school graduate who
   anticipates further education   is
besieged by friends who wish to know his
choice of college. "And where are you
g0 1 n g L 0
school?" "To
Yale"modest-
ly admits Joe.
Then the
friend gush-
ingly admires
the school
and thinks it
is wonderful
that Joe
should have
such a mag-
nificent op-
portunity.
  "Where are
                        you going to
school, William?" I was asked innumer-
able times. "To Wisconsin," I would
reply. "Oh!" and usually the conversa-
tion ended there. I was "sold" on Wis-
consin, or perhaps I wouild have been
shaken in my faith.
  I have been here about three months
and already I am conscious of a change
in myself. Whereas three months ago
Wisconsin was a huge institution, filling
me 'with awe every time I thought of it,
today it is quite realistic.
  Although my pants were not tight
when I arrived in Madison this fall,
they were not as wide as some of the
boys were flapping.  My socks were
colored yet conparatively sombre, my
attitude was one of respect, and my
mind was typically freshman. You know
that means an overwhelming desire to
work. I have learned that one must be-,
ware lest the firm resolutions with which
he arrives in Madison melt away before.
the glaring rays of the study lamp like
so much snow in the summer sun.
  The first thing most freshmen attempt
is imitation. They desire to become
"collegiate" over night. They discard
garters and buy socks brighter in their
dullest moments than the "sheiks"
were. wont to wear at home, and al-
though some of the "big men" on the
campus are said to be wearing garters,
we of the common herd are still walking
on soft, pleasant wrinkles of cotton wool
and synthetic silk. They discard their
perfectly new overcoats, mortgage their
college allowance or their Dad's chattels
and step out in a variety of garments,
sheep seconds, jack rabbitt or dog skin,
colored, camouflaged, and called fur
coats because the "smart dressers" wear
them, although nine times out of ten a
slicker or light top coat would be more
sensible and serve the purpose better.
   But in one respect the "frosh" is not
an imitator. Nearly every other one
entering the University has a "record",
in his high school. So he trips about the
campus bedecked with medals, rings
and pins, like so many vest buttons, en-
tirely unmindful that the upper class
man, as a matter of modesty, I suppose,
is not wearing jewelry. Perhaps a
friendly tip is sufficient, or perhaps a
cold bath is necessary-at any rate
about the third week pins and rings and
medals disannear 'and the fredPhman
loses his identity except for his green cap.
There were other green caps during the
first two weeks, many of them-but the
pea green    "postage  stamp,"  large
enough to cover only a small segment of
the dome of the enlarged freshman
cranium belongs by tradition to the
freshman, and there were many of them
this year-five hundred more than ever
before. By the end of the month we got
"used to them," and when they browned
and withered and disappeared after the
first frost we missed them. But we find
some consolation in the wise counsel. of
upper classmen who tell us they will
reappear in all their verdure with'the
warm rains and bright - sunshine of
spring
  I shall not argue the merits or demerits
of the non-compulsory green cap cus-
tom, at, Wisconsin, but I believe the class
rush is a debatable issue. True the old
back - breaking, bone - crushing, pole
climbing days of rushes on the lower
campus are. gone.- No freshman was,
hauled by his feet through the mud and
over the boulders, big and little that line
the shore of Mendota; there was no line
of hand picked "sophs" to pass him
along, and no "Sampson" at the end of
the line to duck him when a place of
sufficient depth was reached. Instead,
thirteen sacks filled with hay were
placed in a row on the field at Camp
Randall. The "sophs" lined up on one
side and the "frosh" on the other. There
were upper classmen officials, and the
group was surrounded by masses of
spectators. At a signal the gladiators
rushed for the bags, the   spectators
closed in--and from that time on the
affair was about as spectacular as a mud
puddle. At a signal the piles of human-
ity untangled and went home to remove
what was left of sweaters, shirts, and
trousers. The affair was over.   The
officials called it a tie. It was not a test
of strength, generalship or resourceful-
ness. It was the "Class*Rush."
  I heard much about "registration"
and eight o'clocks. Registration was
really quite simple when compared with
what it was presumed to be. It consists
in filling out about i7 or 23 cards, pay-
ing some money and saying "Yes" as
kindly as possible every time one gets an
eight o'clock. The latter is the real test
of character.
  Mr. Steven, I see you have no eight
o'clocks."
  "But   . . . "    I objected.
  "Freshmen are required to have them."
And L got three eight o'clocks.
  At the next table came another at-
tack. "Mr. Steven, I see you have no
Raf-erdiu't Anoý   T ',.--     L. , ý -. -
freshman must have one." I knew ob-
jection would be futile, so I acquiesced.
   So the kindly lady put me down for a
 Saturday class. And after it was over I
 had a Saturday eight o'clock ?-no I had.
 six eight o'clocks. If popular vote were
 to decide it, I suggest that the man who
 invented eight o'clocks would never
 reach the hall of fame.
   I am one of the fortunate ones who
 live in the new "dorms." Readers of
 the Alumni Magazine are familiar with
 them for they were well described in a
 recent issue. But when 505 men are put
 in them, they not only look different
 but sound different-curses on    the
 saxophone.
   The first dispute in our section hinged
on whether we should call it Alpha,
kindergarten Greek for "A" and also
the name of the stray kitten that strolled
in one day to become our mascot, or
whether we should call it "Hoboes'
-Roost." Possibly because Aloha- the
stray cat, strayed elsewhere the next
week, our "house" is known officidi(ly as
Section A, Adams Hall and informally
as "Hoboes' Roost."
   "Hoboes' Roost" residents are emin-
ently respectable and hospitable. Wit-
ness their conduct at the dormitory open
house, when according to the newspapers
2.,ooo people visited the quadrangles.
The crowd made a big impression, but a
bigger one was made by "Prexy" Glenn
Frank, who personally visited every
section in both halls. Hobo Hal was in
his room on the first floor of the Roost
studying his "math" for Monday. There
was a rap on the door. "COME INJ"
yelled Hal in the most, approyed col-
legiate style.- In stepped a moderately
built man, immaculately dressed. "My
name is Frank," he calmly said as he
stretched 'out his hand, "don't stop
studying."   "Frank who?" blustered
Hal, before the identity of his caller
flashed on him. He almost swooned,
recovered, jumped   up  and greeted
"Prexy." And for a full week later, it was
only with considerable difficulty that the
men kept him from painting a large,
          (Continued on page 99)
/
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