Lights Out

In loco parentis, the administration tried to legislate propriety. But Harvard men and Radcliffe women came together when the lights went out.

Radcliffe women favor Harvard men nine to one over others, reported a Crimson poll in spring, 1950.

Similarly, sixty-one percent of Harvard men marked a preference for "college girls" over "debutantes, working girls and high school girls" as dates.

The statistics were released at a time when Harvard and Radcliffe were more closely linked than ever before. In the fall of 1947, joint instruction of Radcliffe and Harvard students became official. By May of 1948, the integration was finalized and only five introductory freshman classes remained single-sex.

In 1949, 'Cliffies could even join Harvard clubs-with some stipulations. According to the rules of the Dean's office, Radcliffe students were permitted to join so-called "departmental or social-interest clubs" with no counterpart in the Annex.

With no barriers in the classroom and a growing cohesion between the campuses, it was the social rules like those governing the clubs that students found most restrictive.

In 1949, the Radcliffe student government passed a new set of organizational rules, calling for greater freedom in extracurriculars. The suggestion was disregarded by the Dean's office.

"Rules on 'Cliffe Membership In Clubs Now Well Snarled," proclaimed a Crimson headline in October of 1950.

Even more complex were the set of rules governing men and women in their interaction at the football stadium.

School rules forbade women from sitting between the 28th and 50th yard lines at home games; their cheering capacity was deemed to small. This meant that men who brought dates to the games would be forced to either sit apart from them or take seats outside of the 28 and 50 yard lines.

The policy had been weakly enforced in past years, but in 1947 the Harvard Athletic Association [HAA] changed tacks after a Student Council recommendation argued women decreased the cheering strength of that section.

Rallies of Harvard students erupted in response, contesting the HAA's logic.

During the Holy Cross game, when an usher asked a couple to leave the cheering section, the crowd broke out in boos, hurling wads of paper at the stadium official.

One man tried to bypass the rules by disguising his date as a man, dressing her in dungarees, a worn jacket and a hat to conceal her hair. The couple failed miserably in evading the watchful eyes of the ushers-they were banished behind the goal posts.

The Student Council responded speedily to the protests with a poll of the student body that showed Harvard students favored abolishing the all-male cheering section four to one. By November 4, the Committee on Athletic Regulation decided to base stadium seating on class instead of sex. Starting with the Yale game, seating priority went to the more senior classes.

The Class of 1951 had no success, however, against the most omnipresent of the College's social rules: the hated parietals.