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Egstad, H. M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 35, Number VII (April 1934)

Cass, Betty
It was only a joke!,   p. 188

Page 188

            It Was Only a Joke!
                                                            _ei-, tIe 7,'ce
Sitery oa One o/ Ide
                                                            C/Jeadtect jpz.iuI4s
bda CLA                   i'tory
IF PREXY FRANK thinks he has trouble on his hands
   with a few students hissing him via printer's ink in the  eett       
           Ca       ex
   Daily Cardinal and an occasional freelancer tossing                 u/
LetLy     'ass     es- 2
verbal bombs at him in the press of the country because of     (Columnist,
The Wisconsin State Journal)
an indiscreet remark or two which he might or might not
have made, he should hear the story of what Prexy Van
Hise had on HIS hands in the spring of 1904 (just 30    body that as a jokester
he was a dam good university presi-
years ago) as the result of an innocent little remark HE  dent and that his
little crack about "no exams this year"
made one night at a student gathering.                      was "only
a joke."
  The year of 1904 marked the 50th commencement of the    Well . . . if Prexy's
little "joke" had gone over in a
University, the first commencement having been held in  big way the night
of the banquet, his explanation of it
1854, and it was decided to celebrate the occasion with a  went over in equally
as big a way in the opposite direction.
big jubilee, student, Faculty and townspeople all taking part.  There was,
in fact, the reverse of a jubilee on the Campus.
  On the 23rd of April, therefore, a great pre-jubilee ban-  Gatherings of
students met and hissed the President. They
quet was held by way of working up enthusiasm for the   printed handbills
which said something to the effect that
affair. E. W. Hamilton, who now lives in Madison, was   "No Exams Is
Only a Joke, Is It? To Hell with the Facul-
student chairman of the banquet, and President Van Hise  ty" and circulated
them among the townspeople and Faculty.
was chief speaker.                                            The Faculty
finally called a mass meeting of the entire
  Prexy was doing his best to give his speech the light  student body, and,
after a great deal of hissing, talking,
touch, to add a little amusement and laughter to the party,  persuading,
cajoling and what-have-you of the 1904 vin-
and to create a real jubilee spirit. In the interest of this  tage, they
persuaded the students to calm down and quit
noble effort, then, he reached one place in his talk where  riding Mr. Van
it seemed fitting (and, to him, amusing) to say, " . . . and  The students
quieted, all right, as far as mass meetings
this being jubilee year, of course there won't be any final  and public hissings
were concerned . . . but as far as for-
exams this spring!"                                         getting
the episode was concerned, they were quiet like
  There was a moment of amazed silence and then, before  a bunch of foxes.
he could add another word, pandemonium broke loose in     At that time the
University was putting in the heating
the old gym! The students jumped on their chairs, they  tunnel from the heating
plant to the gymnasium and there
banged plates and cups on the floor, they shrieked and  was an open ditch
and a huge pile of brick on the Langdon
cheered and yelled. They gave skyrockets for Prexy and  Street side of the
Lower Campus. There was also a plan
for the jubilee. In short, they did everything but take the  under way to
create a beautiful garden on the site of the
gym apart.                                                  Lower Campus
as part of the jubilee program, a plan which
  The President was mightily pleased with the little joke  the student body
resented because their space for athletics
he had put over, and it was not until the next day, when  was already limited,
and the agile minds of the revengeful
he began to hear rumblings of dissension, that he realized  students, putting
the three things together, created the
that it hadn't been a joke to the students at all . . . that  greatest student
prank ever perpetrated at the University
they had taken him in all seriousness . . . and on Monday  of Wisconsin.
he was forced to make an announcement to the student                    
   (Please turn to page 213)
                                     ARE SOME OF THE CULPRITS IN THIS PICTURE?
                    The class of 1904 reunes again this year and will probably
have something  to say5 about this episode.
                                                    Page 188

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