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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Guest column: A day at the UA in 1962

    Fifty years ago, I was a junior enrolled in the College of Business and Public Administration.

    The UA was much smaller then, both in terms of student enrollment and campus geography. There were fewer buildings and more open space between them. The composition of the student body was also very different in 1962. In the BPA College, we were mostly white and male. While there were a few women enrolled, I seldom had any women in my classes. There were also very few minority students in any of my classes.

    The faculty also reflected this lack of diversity. I had only one female instructor in my four years of undergraduate study. The business faculty was representative of their generation — tough, demanding and for the most part with the compassion of a drill sergeant. They believed strongly in the Protestant work ethic and the importance of training us to manage successful organizations.

    Because so many of them were World War II veterans, they operated from a worldview that emphasized maintaining America’s dominant role, both economically and militarily.

    A visitor to campus in the fall of 1962 would have noticed the large number of uniformed students. It was my first semester out of uniform — my ROTC uniform that is. All men were required to enroll in four semesters of ROTC training. We spent two hours a week in class and one hour in drill. We polished our brass buttons, shined our black shoes and marched, without a lot of enthusiasm, on fields now occupied by the Administration, Psychology, and Education buildings. My ROTC instructors were all war heroes with stories of bravery that captivated our interest and increased our respect.

    There were, of course, faculty members who were eccentric. I recall an accounting instructor who seemed to really like plaid shirts and ties with polka dots, worn with pants pulled up to his armpits.

    Perhaps the reason I have his image burned into my memory was the fact that his class was offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:40 a.m. Yes, I do mean the horrific (at least by college student standards) hour of 7:40 a.m. It was rumored that the one woman in the class wore her PJ’s covered by a long raincoat. Just the possibility of that being the case was enough to keep us somewhat alert at that hour on a Saturday morning.

    The athletic program was just a shadow of what it is today. The university competed in the Border Conference against teams in New Mexico and Texas, and of course Arizona State. There were no women’s sports. Title IX was years away.

    The athletes were not afforded any of the resources for academic support that today’s athletes have available.

    One of the highlights of attending games in the small confines of Bear Down Gymnasium was being able to watch the antics of an always inebriated, red-faced faculty member, who spent the game yelling at the referees from his perch in the East Balcony.

    Community support seemed limited to attendance at football games. There was no TV coverage or Wildcat Club. Football games were a social highlight of each fall semester. It was our custom to attend games wearing coats and ties. The women wore dresses with heels.

    There were those events that we didn’t write home about — like a panty raid. The residents of Graham-Greenlee and Papago men’s residence halls were rousted out of their rooms at about 9 p.m. one night by police action in the parking lot behind our dorms. There were probably a couple hundred of us standing around when someone yelled, “On to Yavapai!”

    Yavapai was a women’s dorm that semester. Our reception was a lukewarm one, probably influenced by the presence of the campus police.

    Again, our unknown leader yelled instructions; “On to Maricopa!” This time however, we were met with an enthusiastic reception by our female counterparts, who, while gathered on the front balcony, showered the crowd below with an assortment of undies. I must also mention that a ladder played a part in this event, but perhaps another time for the rest of the story.

    I know this will be a difficult exercise for many of you, but can you picture your grammy on that balcony? Perhaps it would be too weird to even try to go there. Perhaps in another fifty years?

    — Steve Dowdle completed his Junior year and during the next sixteen years went on to earn four degrees and hold the positions of Assistant Registrar and Assistant Dean in the BPA College.

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