Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Long-Standing Hazing Tradition at Rice Leads to Injury

After much anticipation, built up by the first fifteen articles in Ethel's scrapbook, we reach the moments where the student body enters the Rice campus. Apparently, things didn't go as well as expected. On the first day of registration, the is a hazing induced injury.

Freshman Injured During Hazing At Rice Ceremonies

September 14, 1939

Richard Wier, 17, of Dallas, Breaks Ankle While Dragging Cartload of Sophomores Around Campus

One Freshman student was hurt in the registration-day hazing at Rice Institute Thursday morning as 1300  students gathered for the start of the fall term. An investigation of the hazing was being made by Rice officials, and it seemed possible that a ban would be placed on hazing at Rice in the future. 

The injured student was Richard Wier, 17, or Dallas, who suffered a broken ankle while helping drag a cart load of sophomores around the campus. Wier was taken to Herman Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment. his foot was being X-rayed Thursday to determine the extent of his injuries. 

Hazing of freshmen by sophomores at Rice has taken place during the first week of the fall term for more than 20 years, and has been featured by such antics as forcing freshmen to roll pingpong balls around the campus with their noses, forcing castor oil and soap down the throats of the freshman "slimes," and other hazing. 

Dean Harry B. Weiser, Registrar S. G McCann and Bursar J. T. McCants held a conference after Wier's injury became known on the campus. McCants refused comment on the hazing or the conference.

Dean Weiser said that hazing would be stopped for the rest of this week, but that the college authorities might allow initiation ceremonies  next week. He and McCann will confer again on the matter early next week, he added.

"There has been hazing at Rice since the foundation fo the institute," Dean Weiser said. "As to the future, we're not going to cross that bridge before we come to it. We want to prevent any more accidents like the one that happend today, however."

Weiser said the sophomores participating in the hazing of Wier would not be suspended.  

Ankle Broken

Wier's left ankle was broken, it was revealed at the hospital, but he planned to attend classes next Monday. His father, Austin S. Wier, Dallas lawyer, was reported to be on his way to Wier's bedside. 

Wier said that his ankle was broken while he was helping a crowd of other freshmen drag a large gardener's cart loaded with "about 20" sophomores around the driveway leading from Main Street to the administration building. 

"I slipped down," Wier said, "and the cart passed over me. The wheel ran over my ankle."

Robert Knox of Dallas, secretary-treasurer of the sophomore class, said that plans were still being made for "Freshman Night" next week. 

"Freshman Night" occurs the night before the first Rice football game, when freshmen are painted up and run through a snake dance in the downtown section. Usually the snake dance ends with a football pep rally at the corner of Main and Texas.

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Note: This section is crossed out. Not clear why.
Banned at Houston University

"Hazing with bodily punishment has never been allowed at the University of Houston, and will not be allowed, "Dean.K. Dupre said Thursday. In the past we have allowed freshmen and sophomores to have a 'fun night' when the sophomores pained up the freshmen  but this is only for one night, and the faculty and the student officers supervise closely. 

"We haven't completed the plans for this year's fun night  but student council officers and the sophomore officers will get together with me within a few days to discuss the plans. "

* * *
Registration Times.

Both new and old academic students registered Thursday. New engineering students and architecture students will register from 8 a.m to 10:30 Friday, and old students in those courses and in academic courses will register from 10:30 am. until 5 p.m. Friday. About 400 freshmen 900 upperclassmen will be enrolled at Rice this year. 

Students filled out registration cards at long tables in the cloisters before entering the registrar's office, where professors and instructors helped them to pick the proper courses. The students were kept moving in small groups to the various registration rooms by Registrar McCann.

Most of Rice Institute's faculty of 95 professors, instructors and fellows, were back to their college offices Thursday to assit students. Dr. Marcel Moraud, professor of French, and Andre Bourgeois, instructor in French, are thought to be still in France. The two professors were expected to sail on the Normandie, September 5, friends said. The Normandie however, is still docked in New York, unable to make the transatlantic trip because of the war. 

Hazing this year seemed unusually mild. The traditional castor oil, tobacco, soap, blue dye pellets, garlic and other distasteful doses usually crammed in large quantities down the throats of freshmen by zealous sophomores were banned this year to make the initiation ceremonies less harmful.

* * * 

Under the direction of Harry Albaugh, sophomore class president, and J. P. Woods, president of last year's sophomore class, the freshmen were captured on emerging from the administration building as they finished registering. Shoe polish, grease paint and ink were used by zealous sophomores to inscribe on the initiates the numbers "43" along with decorative stripes and swirls in brilliant colors covering backs, chests and faces. 

Lard was used generously to shampoo the hair of the new men, stripped to the waist before the initiation ceremonies were began and a handful of gravel in the hair completed the first stage of the initiation ceremonies.

Camera fans enjoyed the pranks of the undergraduates and snapped numerous candid shots for family albums. Peanut races and pingpong ball "blos" drew most attention. Mothers watching from the cloisters showed disman, however, over the paint that covered their sons' clothes. Stained coats, shirts and piles of shoes discarded early in the day adorned the usually prim hedges of the academic quadrangle. 

Unsavory odors of strong-smelling chemicals sprayed by soph chemists added to the repugnance of the freshmen parading through the sallyport during the activity of registration of upperclassmen.

But  the ceremonies were not entirely distasteful. After long sessions of rolling in the gravel and salaaming in praise of Allah, the slimes were allowed to make love to beautiful literary society co-eds enjoying initiation from the sidelines. The proposals of marriage were met with giggles and cold snubs.

Until Thanksgiving slimes will be required to wear Kelly green caps, prominently lettered "43," and huge Windsor bow ties, and slimesses will wer green fingernail polish and green silk hair bows.  New women students  will not be molested until the first Friday of regular classes, when men will receive another initiation. 

The annual slime "snake parade," climaxed by a giant pep rally on the corner of Main Street and Texas Avenue, will be held the night of September 29th, preceding the first Rice football the following night. 

Rice Slime Parade 1921
Freshmen class of 1925.  (Click to enlarge)
Source: Rice University Archives, photo files, Event-Slime Parade,
Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
What do you think? I found this article, though unusually long, full of amazing information. The hazing tradition was engrained at Rice since it's inception. I found a photo of the slime parade from 1921. Even tough it does seem tame, compared to what hazing has evolved into these days, students were getting injured back then as well. What stood out to me was that this was not a fraternity related hazing, but a university wide event. Sophomores hazing freshmen in full view of mothers and faculty, and city crowds (see parade photo). The green class of "43" caps, bow ties and matching hair bows on the girls did sound entertaining and a long standing tradition as well (see 1921 photo) ! Jewish students must have been pleased that Rosh Hashanah fell during registration in 1939! I wonder if they got hazed by the Jewish sophomores when the arrived for registration the next day?

How about the registration process itself? Things have changed. Try to image today's college students standing in line, registration card at hand, waiting to meet with their professors and workout their schedule—a far cry from current computerized lottery registrations. I bet many a college student today would enjoy some old fashioned personalized attention, though I'm not sure they would be willing to submit to the hazing which follows. 

It's going to be interesting to see when and how the two stranded professors will return from Europe, and if we will learn what happen to Dr. Moraud's son


  1. Can't see any thing like that happening today.

    1. Hazing has gotten much worse these days, despite attempts to control it and ban it. It's sad.


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