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Jackson Brown
Jackson Brown

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Reflecting in old age upon the state of the U. of R. when he assumed administrative duties, David Jayne. Hill felt that the conception of the institution as a corporate unity was singularly feeble. "Individuals came to learn something for themselves," he confided to his unpublished autobiography, "to obtain a degree, and to go away and seek for themselves the rewards their achievement would bring to them....The undergraduates, and the graduates, and to some extent... the Faculty were devoid of 'college spirit'... a sense of the corporate character of a college, in which all are members bound together to constitute a living organism for the performance of a recognized task in society...."Understandably, Hill took pride in the knowledge that during his tenure and by reason of policies he pursued a stronger sense of institutional loyalty emerged. Many a student, as shown in undergraduate publications, agreed that a still warmer feeling of attachment to the college and its interests was a major urgency. At the same time, reminiscent voices appreciated the values that students, unconsciously or consciously, imparted to their fellows. "The campus is an ally of the classroom," one wrote. "Our schoolmates develop[ed] within us individuality as well as cooperation... Honor men have [had] the... ability to stir up those of less mental caliber... .The same rings [rang] true of interclass influence...." 1Hoping to recruit a larger undergraduate body, Hill addressed a letter to clergymen in the Rochester sphere of influence recommending that they preach a sermon each year on the values and advantages of higher education. In the nature of advertising, too, Professor Fairchild arranged for the American Association for the Advancement of Science to hold its 1892 meeting in Rochester, some sessions being held in the Anderson Hall chapel. It brought to the community the most illustrious assembly of scientists, about a thousand of them, the city had ever entertained. Similarly, the University sent an exhibit to the World's Fair in Chicago (1893) --photographs of the institution, a forty-page descriptive booklet and copies of books written by graduates; two bronze medals were awarded to the college for the display.Qualifications for entry to the college showed no substantial change in the 1890's and applications were handled in a rather free-and-easy manner. To reduce to a minimum the work involved, a printed form for admission had been devised. "For a rejection, the word 'not' was inserted in the blank space provided," the first full-time U. of R. registrar remembered; "for an acceptance with conditions, the subject or subjects involved were checked; and for a straight admission, the form was left blank except for the name of the student..."Although total enrollment grew modestly during the decade, the trend was not consistently upward. For the academic year of 1897-98, 216 young men were on the campus, breaking all records, but only about eight out of ten were degree candidates. When standards of student performance were raised and scholarship funds for Freshmen were in short supply, the undergraduate population slumped. The tantalizing problem of "drop-outs" persisted; the class of 1895 froze its sentiments into a jingle:Sixty in class were we,When first we entered college,Thirty by the wayside dropped,Sated quite with knowledge. Approximately half of the undergraduates in the 1890's came from Rochester homes, and almost all the rest were youths from small towns in the Upstate region. The class of 1895 contained the college's first Asiatic student, a Japanese, Sajiro Tateish. The object of curiosity in the city, he became involved in a street brawl (during a Sino-Japanese war); police arrested him but he was freed on the ground that he had fought in self-defense. Enthusiastic over his Rochester experience, Tateish vowed that on his return home he would write a book for his countrymen on American literature and unfurl the colors of the U. of R. over Mount Fujiyama! He founded a Tokyo firm that engaged in international trade.During the Hill regime disciplinary problems lost something of their intensity, due half to the diplomatic finesse of the President and half to the outlets for undergraduate exuberance provided by an expanded athletic program. Traditional gum-shoe fights and hazardous class skirmishes up the Anderson Hall stairs yielded to tamer "rushes" between men of the underclasses. When Freshmen appeared (1890) at chapel carrying one of their number on their shoulders, waving a flag and chanting the class yell, Hill retorted by suspending the whole lot until appropriate apologies were forthcoming. After another outburst of rowdyism, the President informed the students in chapel that he had learned that disorders were less troublesome in coeducational colleges; pausing, he leaned forward and said, "Gentlemen, I hope you will not necessitate turning the girls loose on you!" Undergraduates applauded lustily and stamped their feet so vigorously that dust ascended in clouds.Before coming to Rochester, Hill had been warned that the students habitually indulged in painting parties and vandalism on Hallowe'en: in his first years college buildings were daubed as usual, and once a fire set by roysterers had to be extinguished by city firefighters. But "Prexy" cracked down hard on the culprits and destructive Hallowe'en escapades ceased. After Hill resigned pranks and serious hazing affrays reappeared; in one case, three of the more raffish undergraduates were suspended for a year because of involvement in a piece of rowdyism that provoked energetic protests in the Rochester press.More than once, the genial assistant librarian, Herman K. Phinney, whose "hirsute appendages" amused generations of undergraduates, was the subject of undergraduate doggerel, and the target of student pranks. To the tune of "Clementine, " undergraduates sang:Phinney's whiskers,Phinney's whiskers,Fuzzy wuzzy, thin and spare!They run races round the cases,Flaunt themselves upon the air.On one occasion, Phinney's bicycle was hoisted to the top of the flagpole in front of Anderson Hall; when the antiquated vehicle was lowered to the ground, a daring young man rode the trophy away, concealed it in his fraternity house, and it was brought out only on "state occasions."Cheating in the classroom was a perennial disciplinary perplexity, which the faculty tardily combatted by depriving erring youths of scholarships and by expulsion if the offense was repeated. 2Inside the ranks of Phi Beta Kappa debate raged on the basis of selecting undergraduates to membership, but strong sentiment in favor of choosing men with promise of high achievement in their vocations, instead of only those of highest academic performance, lost out, and candidates from one class were reduced (1891) from one third to a quarter of all. A revised constitution of 1895 prescribed that the president and vice-president should hold office for only one year and that the latter and the secretary should be chosen from the University faculty; at the same time, the chapter was formally incorporated by the State of New York. When in 1897 the National Council of the Society drafted a constitution for all chapters, the Rochester constitution was converted into by-laws.The Iota chapter met for its first formal dinner in 1898--at the Genesee Valley Club. Financially, the Society was in excellent condition with over $2,900 invested (1899) in mortgages along with bank deposits of $670; consequently, annual dues, which had been set at two dollars, were discontinued.To the honors available for undergraduates the Elizabeth M. Anderson Prize, in memory of the wife of the first president, was added in 1891. Endowed by two alumni, the income would be awarded to the Senior most proficient in art studies. The Society of the Colonial Dames provided (1899) a prize of fifty dollars for the Senior who wrote the ablest essay on American colonial history. Of the extracurricular groups that were started in the 1890's, history clubs for Seniors and for Juniors were highly valued by their members. Morey served as the patron and Gilmore organized a Writers' Club. As witness to the growing importance of scientific subjects, a Scientific Club appeared in 1897. When in 1891 the Rochester alumnus and trustee J. Sloat Fassett, 1875, captured the Republican nomination for governor of New York State, under-graduates launched a Fassett Club to assist in the campaign. The slogan of the hour proclaimed:A standard bearer has been found,Who makes the Democrats give ground;Our dauntless gladiator Sloat,Has got the [Tammany] Tiger by the throat.... If true, the Fassett grip was not firm enough to win the election. But a Rochester mouthpiece of the Democrats denounced the University authorities for permitting a partisan organization on the campus, and it was proposed to fight back by canceling the exemption on real estate taxes which the college enjoyed.Although its beginnings cannot be traced with precision, a Dramatics Club was founded and flourished in the 'nineties, under the name of the Swastika Club in some years. Starting off with small one act plays, the Club presented the more ambitious The Duenna at the Lyceum Theater in 1891; it was a dazzling triumph and city newspaper critics spoke glowingly of "the artistic work of the chorus of darling maidens " who played alongside of the prima donna and minor "male" characters. From 1898 onward, the college theater society put on annual shows at the Lyceum, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" being a production that drew roars of applause. A highlight of 1895 was a minstrel show, blending vaudeville with song and dance acts and, as a rollicking feature, staging a football game between the U. of R. and Vassar; the promoters gloated over a net profit of $500.The health of musical organizations--Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin--reflected either the interest or the apathy of the student body. If not enough under-graduates with good voices were available, the Glee Club nonchalantly enlisted town youths to fill out its ranks, Home concerts and fairly long tours (which the faculty blessed by granting leaves of absence) were undertaken whenever the quality of the clubs was outstanding. 3 Under the goad of student agitation, a spate of college songs was written in the 1890's. A popular one, known originally as "The Genesee" and eventually as one of the "Alma Maters," came (1890) from the fertile pen of Thomas T. Swinburne, ex-1892. It began:Beside the river GeneseeWhere crystal waters fall and flow,And where the mills sing merrily,And fairest trees and flowers grow,'Tis here our Alma Mater lies,Endeared to us by many ties.A Rochester youth of seventeen. Frank N. Mandeville, set the verse to music; not a college student, he played the piano for the Glee Club, which kept the song in its repertory.Another Swinburne production, originally known as "The New Genesee," solidified into the form of the official Alma Mater sung in the twentieth century. Herve D. Wilkins, 1866, a Rochester church organist, arranged its simple tune from an old English song.Full many fair and famous streamsBeneath the sun there be,But more to us than any seemsOur own dear GeneseeWe love her banks and stately falls,For to our minds they bringOur dear old Alma Mater's halls,Where sweetest memories cling. As flows the river gathering forceAlong her steadfast way,May we along life's devious courseGrow stronger day by day:And may our hearts where'er we roamForever loyal beTo our beloved college homeBeside the Genesee. At the time this "Alma Mater" was written, the University campus was rather remote from the Genesee River, and the author, dreamy by nature though he was, could scarcely have imagined how appropriate his verse would become after the occupation of the River Campus in 1930.With Swinburne as editor, a U. of R. songbook came off the press in 1895; it contained classical and popular songs, fraternity and college melodies. A good deal of the original music was written by Wilkins. One stanza of a new lyric, called "Rochester, " that had ephemeral popularity read:Thy fair name, then, widely spreadingWe will make secure,Thy fair fame, beauty round shedding,Always shall endure.Rochester, we love, Rochester,Always for thee we'll sing,Thou shalt be our adoration,Tributes of praise we bring.To the tune of "March of the Men of Harlech," Henry H. Barstow, 1893, composed "Rochester the Fair:"Temple fair of classic story;Shrine of Wisdom, sage and hoary;Rich in honor, rich in glory: --Rochester the Fair.To her altar come we singing,Warm affection's offerings bringing,Harps and timbrels gaily ringing.Praises on the air... "The Parting Song," which had its day and then ceased to be, pleaded:Come friends and class-mates, e'er we part,Let's sing another song,With voices joined, and heart with heart,This happy hour prolong.It may be many weary daysE'er we again shall meet;So to our Alma Mater's praiseThis parting strain repeat. Chorus:O Rochester, our mother dear!Who e'er can thee forget?While suns shall rise thy name we'll prize,Nor cease when suns have set. One Richard Greene, unlisted in the college records, brought out a somewhat satirical ballad, "The University," sung to the tune of "America."My college, 'tis of thee,Dear UniversityOf thee I sing.I love thy weird walls,Thy large and cheerful halls,Clear to the Lower FallsThy praises ring...All things must end, they say,Oh, how we hope and praySome of these will.When will our "cuts" increase?When will these changes cease?When, when shall we have peace?Tell us, Oh Hill. 4IIThe Greek letter societies in the nineties strengthened their place in the life of the college by erecting chapter houses; in some cases they had recently acquired entire residences. The existence of fraternity houses at other New York State colleges, the absence of dormitories at Rochester, and the sympathetic attitude of the Hill administration opened the way to this new era in Greek fraternalism. Delta Psi paced the field by building a handsome home on Washington Street (1889) in a choice residential district of the city; however, the society soon fell on evil days and completely folded up in 1896, several of the members affiliating with other fraternities.When the brothers of Delta Upsilon requested permission of the University trustees to erect a home in the college park, the petition was turned down; the society then (1890) acquired a property at the southwest corner of University Avenue and Strathallan Park and built a house that was occupied until 1930. Heavily mortgaged, it looked in 1898 as though the property might be lost by fore-closure, but the University trustees stepped in, and, though unwilling to assume the mortgage, extended a large loan to the fraternity. From the University, Psi Upsilon purchased a plot of ground on Prince Street attached to the residence of President Hill and erected a house at an overall cost of approximately $18,000. A rising Rochester architect and builder, J. Foster Warner, had the structure ready for occupancy in January, 1893.Responding to the competition, Alpha Delta Phi in 1894 moved into a new home at the southwest corner of Prince and Main Streets. Of the 223 living members of the chapter, 162 pledged over $12,000, and at the dedication ceremonial two charter members of the society, class of 1851, participated. The house contained, in addition to living and dining rooms, a library or card room and an area to stow bicycles. On the second floor, seven study rooms were designed for two occupants each; on the third level were seven small bedrooms and a hall for chapter meetings. Only one bathroom was installed; whether it had a shower, such as the D U establishment boasted, is not recorded.Instead of a building purposely designed for a fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon purchased a residence on Alexander Street, which served until 1918, and Theta Delta Chi rented a place on Park Avenue; inactive after 1879, the latter fraternity was re-established in 1892.To promote general deviltry "The Knights of Stygian Gloom" came on the scene in 1890 and eight years later a "Cod Liver Oil Club" started on an abbreviated career. To the list of class societies Freshmen added a chapter of the national Theta Delta Theta (1891), which appears to have been known also as Skull and Serpent, and Seniors established (1893) Alpha Chi Omega; neither of these organizations, it seems, lasted very long. Excessive worship at the twin shrines of hooliganism and Bacchus caused the faculty (about 1900) to ban the Sophomore fraternity of Theta Nu Epsilon. 5As has been indicated, the denominational character of the U. of R. declined during the Hill Administration and the tradition of toleration for any and every pattern of religious outlook was reinforced. Chapel services, the annual day of prayer for colleges, and the Y. M. C. A. and its daily prayer meetings ministered to undergraduate needs--but of religious revivals there is no evidence. Under the auspices of the "Y" a student handbook (or Frosh "Bible") "published in the service of the Master," first came out in 1890. It cited as peculiar hallmarks of the U. of R. the freedom allowed to the students and the opportunity to become identified with the public and social life of the city. As its objective, the "Y" aimed to promote among students "the Truths of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man." The handbook stated that the college, while strictly non-sectarian in its teaching, "is largely patronized by the Baptists... " For the benefit of greenlings, it also outlined the customs and the extracurricular organizations on the campus.To the "Y" Professor Gilmore gave weekly talks on religious subjects, and when a Campus editor asked whether it was true, as had been reported, that the college was irreligious, the professor of English vigorously replied that in fact the religious spirit had deepened steadily on the campus, being effectively nourished by the "Y". A survey of 1890 disclosed that nearly two undergraduates out of three belonged to a church, slightly more than half of them to the Baptist Church. Youths from Protestant homes predominated; in 1894 there were seven undergraduates of the Roman Catholic faith and five of the Jewish. 6Many students attended public lectures in the city given by leading lights of the day such as the Russian "Nihilist" Sergius Stepniak, Henry M. Stanley, African explorer, and John Fiske, philosopher-historian. When the celebrated French tragedienne, Sarah Bernhardt, visited (1896) Rochester, undergraduates serenaded her lustily, and in compensation she handed over twenty-five tickets for "La Tosca;" after the performance students presented the benevolent star with a bouquet in which was concealed a gold-mounted pocketbook with "U. of R." stamped upon it.Undergraduate publications responded to the innovating impact of the Hill administration. The Campus, which was published as a weekl


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