Monday, September 8, 2008

Campus life has changed...?

Well, things have changed over the years. The gamut has ranged from "panty raids" to mascot theft, and recently something more interesting as exhibited at USC [University of Southern California, Los Angeles]...the Academic Culture Assembly's campus-wide Capture the Flag competition. The participants were rivals from the humanities and the science section.

This turned ugly:

"50th Anniversary of the Great UC Panty Raid"


Steven Finacom

May 16th, 2006

The Berkeley Daily Planet

A mass panty raid variously described as a "hell raising mob," an "insurrection," or a manifestation of "spring fever" swept through the streets around the UC Berkeley campus 50 years ago this week, leaving damage and embarrassment in its wake.

"In two and one half hours about 15 percent of the student body has wiped out a reputation for responsible student leadership which had been built up since the days when Benjamin Ide Wheeler was president," the Daily Californian editorialized.

"Panty raiding" was a 1950s fad in which male students, often gathering spontaneously, would march to residences of women students, demanding, and sometimes entering and stealing, undergarments.

An October 1952 incident at the University of Michigan seems to be considered the first major collegiate panty raid. Berkeley’s incident came much later.

On Wednesday, May 16, 1956, temperatures in Berkeley climbed to over 90 degrees. Smog from car exhaust and perpetual garbage burning along the bay shore layered over the East Bay.

Afternoon water fights broke out both north and south of campus where sex-segregated student living groups—fraternities, sororities, cooperatives, and boarding houses—were thickly clustered.

"At Channing circle" the Daily Californian reported, "traffic was completely blocked by police as women of all ages were drenched by water thrown from all sorts of receptacles including bathtubs…"

A lull followed. Then, around 9:30 p.m., "several hundred men students from the comparatively small frat area on the north side of the campus crossed to the bigger southern area—raiding the women's residence hall (Stern Hall) on the campus en route," the paper said.

"At first the temper of the crowd was good natured, and many of the women were friendly and even encouraged the men," a university report later noted. "In some instances, they left doors unlocked to facilitate entrance."

"At some sorority houses girls thronged upstairs balconies to heave scanties at the approaching male mob—whether to encourage the invasions or dissuade them being an unanswered question," said the San Francisco Examiner.

The mood then began to turn "from good natured participation in a game to … real belligerency."

"At the height of the melee, hundreds of students broke into one sorority house after another, stealing lingerie, overturning furniture, breaking doors and manhandling coeds," said the San Francisco Chronicle.

Along with underwear some purses, money, watches, a wedding trousseau, and even the graduation speech notes of the senior class valedictorian reportedly disappeared.

"I have never seen so much complete hysteria," Delta Zeta vice-president Darleen Winwick told the Daily Californian. "The lights were out and people were running everywhere."

Coeds wielded irons, umbrellas, and table lamps as impromptu weapons against the invaders.

The raid finally fizzled out after the crowd headed towards the dormitories at the University’s Smyth-Fernwald housing complex on the top of Dwight Way and were met by male residents who blocked the way to the women’s halls.

Crowd remnants turned back and were talked into dispersing by university officials and the ASUC President.

"Before the wild affair was over, virtually every raider had donned women’s underclothes over his own clothing or sported a similar trophy atop his head as a snood," said the Examiner.

"I am horrified," Assistant Dean of Students William Shepherd told the press after viewing the riot area in a Berkeley police car. "Nothing like this has ever happened in my university career."

"2,000 At UC Go On Wild Spree" the San Francisco Chronicle headlined the morning after. Although Cal students formed the bulk of the crowd, others were implicated.

Berkeley Police "got back twenty-three undergarments from West Berkeley youngsters—not university students—who joined in the fun" and were stopped leaving the area.

A Warring Street resident told the press he "saw many older men in the crowd, some of them baldheaded. Many of them had pillowcases, filling them with loot."

In the aftermath, some of the more salacious stories were discounted.

"There has been no confirmation of reports of girls being carried nude from the houses, beds being overturned with girls in them or girls being stripped of pajamas," Captain L.H. Laird of the Berkeley police told the press.

"The police said they had yet to receive a single complaint of personal injury, or of assault in any manner," the Examiner reported.

Still, lurid accounts spread around the country and world.

"Some girls were stripped, pummeled a bit, and carried away in pajamas or in the nude…" read the "Educatio" section of the May 28, 1956 Newsweek.

Then-Chancellor Clark Kerr later wrote that "one alumnus sent me a newspaper story from Beirut about how naked women had been carried through the streets of Berkeley on the shoulders of men students on their way to an orgy that would match anything the ancient Romans could have organized."

"Ours has been one of the few institutions in the country that didn’t have panty raids or mob violence of any kind," mourned Dean of Students Hurford Stone.

"Deans all over the country have asked me how we did it, and I contended we have more mature students and a student government that actually worked. Now we have to say we are like all the rest."

The day after the raid, a Daily Californian editorial entitled "The Masses Are Asses," calling the event "one of the most horrifying mass riots in the history of the university."

Signed by assistant managing editor Dennie Wombwell, who lived in the sorority district, it deplored "a tragedy—and a disgusting one."

Not all students agreed. One male letter writer to the Daily Cal called Wombwell "convulsive" and "hysterical," while the riot was merely "unfortunate."

But others supported the editorial dismay.

"It is interesting, and perhaps a little sad, to note that the most determined and spontaneous effort to date by the students of the nation’s greatest university had as its object the redistribution of lingerie," one letter writer observed.

The cost of damage to houses and losses of clothing was later estimated at about $12,000.

"The streets surrounding the area took on the appearance of a bargain basement after a women’s lingerie sale," the Oakland Tribune said.

"Men's groups throughout the campus area today continued to return articles of "unmentionable" they had carried as banners the Wednesday," the Tribune added on Friday, May 18. Men’s living groups pledged reimbursement.

"Sorority girls robbed of their underthings today stood in line to view the array of lingerie collected by the campus police. Those who could identify specific garments were allowed to take them back to their living quarters," reported the Oakland Tribune.

Why did it happen?

"College males, like other males of the same age, are essentially small boys grown tall," Dr. Tamotsu Shibutani, "a UC sociologist" told the Oakland Tribune.

An official UC report partially blamed an exhausting academic year with few breaks, along with "the combination of exceptionally hot and humid weather and the tension of impending final examinations."

Only part of the crowd actually participated in the sorority invasions, and the police were "ineffective," the report added.

Berkeley's city manager said that in situations like this, "police practice does not consist of answering individual calls and dashing madly from point to point."

On May 28, the Faculty Committee on Student Conduct issued academic sanctions against 14 of 16 students charged with offences related to the panty raid. Nine were suspended.

The incident later figured in a 1963 novel, Stacy Tower, by Berkeley alumnus Robert H.K. Walter. In the book, a mass panty raid at a loosely fictionalized UC campus helps derail the pending appointment of a liberal university president.

In reality, two years after the raid Chancellor Clark Kerr—still viewed as a liberal in those pre-Free Speech Movement days—was named UC President.

And, ultimately, the story of the incident ended as it had begun—with copious amounts of cool water.

"I went to Walter Haas of the class of 1910 to ask him whether the answer to a warm night in spring might better be a cold dip in a supervised swimming pool," Kerr later recalled. "He answered 'yes' and contributed $300,000," to build the Strawberry Canyon Recreation Center for students.

Haas "often told me later" wrote Kerr, "that this gift, as he saw its many uses, had given him the most personal pleasure of the many gifts he had made. In any event, there were no more panty raids."

"In tactical battle, flag goes to the sciences"

Science's strategies ensure a victory in fourth humanities vs. sciences capture the flag game.


Nicole Dailo

September 8th, 2008

Daily Trojan

As their standard bearer waved a flag marked by an image of William Shakespeare, the cardinal-clad Sciences team charged into Hahn Plaza Friday, victors of the Academic Culture Assembly's campus-wide Capture the Flag competition.

They had no formal strategy, but the Sciences team, which defeated a team of Humanities students, won by deciding to use tactics that capitalized on the unique abilities of those within their ranks, said Jamie Vann, a senior majoring in philosophy and history and a member of the Humanities team.

"We'd been trying to wing it, but that wasn't working," he said. "[The Humanities team] had their flag really well defended. We took advantage of everyone's talents: The fast people were runners, the smaller people were spies and everyone else was there for support."

The Humanities versus Science majors Capture the Flag game is billed as a test of wits between USC's liberal arts and science students. The game, which spanned the entire campus, saw about 75 students square off Friday evening.

After discovering that the Humanities team had hidden its flag in the bleachers of Cromwell Field, the Sciences team snatched the coveted prize and slipped through the bars of the fence, unnoticed.

Lindsay Freeman, a junior majoring in chemical engineering who was the first to spot the Humanities flag, said the victory she truly relished was over the ridiculing naysayers.

"Sciences may be considered the unathletic nerds, but we proved them wrong tonight," she said.

The ACA has now hosted four capture the flag games between the scholastic rivals, the other three of which took place last year. Andrew Pouw, executive director of ACA, said the new pastime has caught on because it bolsters students' senses of pride and place.

"It helps them become more invested in what they're studying and makes them proud of their major," Pouw said. "It also gives them ownership and makes them feel like they have a place on campus and a voice that matters."

In preparation for the game, the participants divided the campus in half, printed an official set of rules and set up a water station to mark the middle of the field. Then came the pre-game pep talks.

"Humanities spends a lot of time thinking about ideas. Science is about action," said Amanda Foran, a doctoral candidate in occupational science. "We know how to mobilize people."

Michael Sullivan, a freshman majoring in public relations who took up the Humanities cause, argued before the game that it was critical thinking skills that would lead them to victory.

"We're out-of-the-box thinkers," he said. "They're capable of plugging things into an equation, but that doesn't do jack for you in Capture the Flag."

With these fighting words, the teams briefly strategized and then took to their sides of campus to hide their flags. The Sciences team patrolled the East, while the Humanities team took to the West.

The teams traded accusations of dubious game play - including one about the Humanities team's use of pizza coupons to discretely mark some of its members, and another about the legality of the Sciences team's decision to wedge its flag into a campus bike rack - but it was the Sciences team that ultimately emerged victorious.

Harrison Mantas, a sophomore majoring in cinema-television critical studies who played for the yellow-clad Humanities team, said he attributed his team's loss, among other reasons, to the colors of the flags.

"Yellow is an uncommon color, and red blends in better with the night. There was a 2-to-1 ratio between us and them, and some humanities people were playing for the sciences [because they weren't wearing yellow shirts]," he said. "Humanities has to do more recruiting. If we pull from our ranks, we can do better."

Regardless of the game's outcome, students from both teams said they came to the event looking more for fun than for a victory.

"We're all just trying to play," Vann said. "I've been playing for three or four years. It's one of my favorite activities."

Mantas added, "I got to meet a lot of new people and do cool things on campus. Though we have a few disagreements about flag placement, it was a good night."

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