Down in the Southeastern corner of Ohio, a few miles off the Marietta River at the small town of Athens, stands Ohio University, a state-supported co-educational college of 5,000 students. For over 149 years Ohio has been offering a good inexpensive education to state boys and girls; because this February the school celebrates its Sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary, the directors have chosen to play Harvard in football. Since the actual observance of Founder's Day falls some time in February of 1954 a certain amount of doubt has arisen as to whether Harvard is playing Ohio in its anniversary year. To remove all doubts the teams will play again next fall, once again in Cambridge.
If the game were played at Athens, Harvard students would find few symbols of their own Ivy league college life. Instead, undergraduate life at Ohio is typified by a relaxed informal provincialism; nobody rushes around very much, everyone knows everybody else, and few people care what happens outside of the immediate vicinity of the Marietta River Valley. Whereas almost anything at Harvard or its companion eastern schools is done in a big way, things at Ohio are done in a small way, But unlike most state colleges where education is often a happazard secondary consideration to campus life, Ohio offers a very good college education to the student body.
Where Harvard must depend on a tutorial system for close student-faculty relations, contact between teachers and pupils at OU is by its own nature very close. With a faculty of over 400, few College courses have an enrollment exceeding 40 students. Since the emphasis for faculty tenure at Ohio is placed on teaching rather than writing, professors spend a great deal of time with students outside the classroom in late discussions, instead of rushing off to a dark corner of some library to work on a technical paper.
Ohio does have a General education program styled somewhat on the lines of the one here. All freshmen must take a year in two of the four gen ed, fields. These fields are very much like the College's although the courses are a little more specific: humanities, with philosophy courses and a Great Book course; natural sciences, with biology, chemistry and physics courses; social sciences, with history, government and economics courses; and mathematics, with geometry and algebra courses. All freshmen take basically the same schedules and are considered students in the University College. But after the first year they branch out into one of Ohio's five more specialized undergraduate colleges--Applied Sciences College, Arts and Sciences College, Commerce College, Education College, and College of Fine Arts. Some of these schools have even more specialized departments, like the School of Journalism in Commerce College. Journalism students work with a daily Athens paper, receive a degree in journalism, and like most have little trouble getting a job after graduation. Most students like the system, for a very few people at a state supported school intend to pursue an entirely liberal arts undergraduate career.
What a great many of the 2500 students intend to pursue are some of the 2500 female students. Social life at Ohio is informal, and active, with much of it centered around the fraternity-sorority system. Almost immediately after registration freshmen girls are approached by sororities, while the men have to wait until their sophomore year for fraternity rushes. A student has to have a C average to be eligible, but according to some students, there are other requirements, like football ability or a car. Because of this, the competition for certain outstanding prospects has been vicious in the past. Now, however, the fraternities have formed a strict honor code which must be observed in dealing with freshmen. Some of the examples: A first semester freshman cannot double date with a frat man or pledge, he can not go on a picnic with frat men, or go to the movies with a frat man.
The 18 fraternities and ten sororities do in many ways direct undergraduate social life; perhaps the biggest social-event of the year is "Greek Week." The fraternities and sororities join in a big festival which features parades, variety shows, the picking of a queen, and a dance. Since frat men are often known around the camps as "Greeks," for the coronation, they don the costumes of the ancient Greeks and present the various female candidates.
Local opinion various on the place of fraternities and sororities at Ohio. Only a third of the college belongs and at a state supported school, some say, private fraternities and sororities have no place at all. But some of the houses are almost as old as the school itself, and there is no inovement to abolish them. The yearly cost of an organization is around $180, which may not seem like much, but when considered in the light of the low income farmilies which send students to Ohio, and the cost of the college itself--$320 a year--may often prove prohibitive to students.
It is a very fortunate thing that Athens (population 9,000) is completely a college town, for over half of the male student body must board in private homes. There are only two men's dormitories compared to four girls' dorms. Almost all the girls live on campus. Girls have 10 p.m. permissions during the week and get an extra two hours each weekend night. No girls are allowed in men's dorms, but parties are held in fraternity lounges at night.
The opening of a new $1,500,000 University Center this fall as part of the anniversary procedings may help undergraduate social life. A large ominous Georgian structure, it will house among other things, a dance hall, a cafeteria, a dining hall, bowling alleys, a snack bar, twin lounges for reading and watching television, offices for undergraduate activities, and 55 senior girls. Although opened last month, the building will be dedicated on Founder's Day. Students feel that it may be a big aid in strengthening non-fraternity extra-curricular and social life. for those who don't belong to fraternities and sororities, there are the Men's and Women's Independent Associations. Both try to fill part of the place of the Greek organizations, showing movies, holding hayrides, dances and smokers. Up to this year they have never adequately filled the need. But students hope that this year, coupled with the new student center, they will have as much to offer as the fraternities.
CAC Holds Power
While the MIA and WIA serve certain social purposes, the most important student organization is the Campus Affairs Committee. Composed of student leaders and faculty members, the CAC serves as a college watchdog, allotting funds to organizations, recognizing new clubs, and determining policy for all social affairs and activities. All dates on the social calendar must be cleared through the CAB, while the group even has a little used but important vote power over the Student Council. The Council handles all class elections for the College, and sets up committees for the CAC. None of Ohio's activities are too demanding--the paper publishes twice a week while other organizations are run on a similarly relaxed schedule.
One thing Ohio has which Harvard lacks, is a modern theatre to produce school shows. The OU theatre, which produces four shows each year, has its own electronic lightboard, plus facilities to put on a complete show. The theatre seats 300 people.