College girls had to sign in and out of their women-only dormitories and had a curfew.
College students today have cars and apartments. Hardly seen in my day. Whether it is better or worse for education, I don’t know. They are not tied down to campus like they used to be. College is now a part-time thing for most students and classes and studying is a sideline from more important activities. Many have outside jobs.
The academic week lasted through midday Saturday, and both academic semesters were weeks longer than they are now. These days professors and students conspire together to do as little as possible.
Contact lenses were an entirely new thing.
The university cafeteria provided a solid meal for 35 cents.
There were still a lot of adult veterans who were students so the atmosphere was different than later. I imagine that was the reason that at Chapel Hill in 1959 I witnessed the last great “panty raid.”
Most of us really attended lectures and really studied although we had a lot of hangovers. Professors were conscientious and knew their subjects. Many were old fashioned Southern liberals but were more interested in learning than ideological conversion. The imported carpetbag Communists were a minority but a definitely growing one. Like William Buckley’s good friend Allard Lowenstein.
There is a lot of evidence these days that more intelligent students don’t believe their professors and just perform dreary regurgitation to get through with it.
Most students in my day were still in-state, from traditional North Carolina families. Most of the imports were affluent New Jerseyans and basketball players from the northeast.
Chapel Hill was reputed to be the most “liberal” university in the South. I remember distinctly in 1963 I was walking across a quad of dormitories with open widows. Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” was reporting on the radio that rightwing extremists had assassinated Kennedy in Dallas. The response of students to the news was hearty cheering out the windows! Everybody I knew enjoyed hearing Jesse Helms broadcast from Raleigh every evening.
In the late 60s rich Yankees began to arrive and stage “civil rights” demonstrations that mostly harassed hard working small business owners. The women also seduced black janitors, usually to their bewilderment. Carpetbag faculty and administrators multiplied rapidly from Great Society subsidies. They were mostly disdainful of the students and locals.
My favourite evening place was a redneck bar where you could get a hotdog for a quarter and a draft Michelob for 35 cents.
There were really a lot of top-rate and controversial speakers and a lively intellectual atmosphere among students who cared about such things. I heard Buckley, Russell Kirk, Gerald Ford, Malcolm X, Billy Graham, and the leader of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. My attempt to start something at the university where I later taught was received with complete indifference by faculty. Unchallenged liberal mediocrity was the preferred atmosphere.
It was newsworthy a few years ago that the UNC monument to the students who were Confederate soldiers was defaced and torn down. There used to be a big portrait in the library of our distinguished alumni General James Johnston Pettigrew. CSA. In another building there was a beautiful mural of Tar Heels at Gettysburg, painted with real young North Carolina men as models. I don’t want to know what has happened to them.
Chapel Hill was still a pleasant village in those days. Now it is an overbuilt, expensive city, surrounded by gated communities for retired Yankees who wanted to settle in a place with “culture.”
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews