Vassar Newspapers Tackle Pressing Concern: Which College Men are Best for the "Vassar Girl?"

Introduction

Starting in 1956 and continuing until coeducation, the college newspapers published guides to the college men that a Vassar girl might associate with during her four years on campus. Below is a collection of the advice through this period. The guides appeared in the Freshmen issue of both the Chronicle and the Miscellany News, coming at a time when the two papers began to incorporate more humor and casual campus opinions alongside their more serious news coverage and editorials. The stereotypes of college men found in these advice columns most likely predated 1956, but their public acknowledgment in the papers point to the loosening of moral strictures on campus. Through all the papers of this era, one can see a self-consciousness of Vassar's status beyond its gates. The other articles in these years attempt to open up previously taboo subjects, as well as tackle the contradictions of progressive political opinions and the privileged "ivory tower" mentality on campus. Alongside these tongue-in-cheek dating rules ran stories openly discussing sex, race, and campus regulation of the private lives of its students. The 'dating' advice stems from the same women who questioned race relations on campus, mandatory chapel attendance, and college regulations on social life. By exposing these stereotypes to public scrutiny, the newspapers in a sense admitted the absurdity of their own pretensions.

"The Big Three"

Yale

- Vassar Chronicle 1956:

They take their extra credits at Vassar. We know them all so well it would be catty to talk about them.

- Miscellany News 1961:

More Vassar girls date Yalies than any other variety of college male. The Yale Man can be identified by his madras jacket and his hair, which falls alluringly into his right eye. His tweed overcoat is three sizes too big in the shoulders to demonstrate his masculinity. Favorite topics of conversation: free love, relative morality, the inferiority of Harvard, and how 'unbelievably bad' college weekends are. Trademarks of Yale: the Whiffenpoofs, the college system (all dorms are called colleges), George & Harry's, the Yale-Harvard football game, Harkness Tower and the Bulldog song. Vassar's favorite modes of transportation: round trip bus for five dollars – three hour ride; taxi – two hour ride.

Junior Prom 1965

Junior Prom 1965

- Miscellany News 1965:

Yale tends to think of Vassar as a sister school. More Vassar girls date Yalies than any other variety of college man. Al Capp thinks a girl hasn't lived until she's had a romance with a Yale man. New Haven is the home of the madras jacket, the modified Beatles cut, and blue jeans. 'Yalie' means clever, pseudo, and terribly articulate. Main topics of conversation: metraphyiscal approaches to sex, 007, Harkness Tower, and how bad college weekends are. DO: Know about the singing groups: they're big at Yale. Hear the Whiffs. DO NOT: Refer to the twelve colleges in which upperclassmen live as 'dorms.'

- Miscellany News 1967:

Of particular interest to new Vassar girls is Yale. The possibility of a merger between the two schools is an exciting prospect, and in any case, Yalies are much in evidence on the Poughkeepsie campus. Your first contact with a Yalie will probably be at a mixer, where he can be identified by his blue blazer and matching striped Eli Yale tie. If he tells you he's a junior, he's probably a sophomore: if he tells you he's a sophomore, he's probably a freshman. It is a good idea to indicate that in your opinion, Yale is even better than Harvard. It is not a good idea to call your date a Yalie. When you get to New Haven for a weekend, you will find it dressy but not too dressy. Remember that upperclassmen live in residential colleges, not dorms, and that, to a Yale man, Berkeley is one of the residential colleges, not the University of California.

Princeton

- Vassar Chronicle 1956:

Here is found an overabundance of: 1) The typical Tweed and Briar man with his oxford grey complexion and button down ears. 2) Vassar girls 3) Uniquely entitled fraternities

- Miscellany News 1961:

Princeton men date more Vassar girls than any other variety of college female. The Princeton tiger can be identified by his orange and black pocket flask, his black and orange beer mug, his orange ties with black polka dots, and his orange underwear with black stripes. Favorite topics of conversation: free love, relative morality, 'the Club,' Bicker, and the Tiger's superiority to the Bulldog. Trademarks of Princeton: Old Nassau, orange and black (see above), southern drawls and chauvinism. Extra information: The President's daughter attends Vassar. (1) Transportation: taxi, bus or train – three hour trip.

- Miscellany News 1965:

The Princeton tiger can be identified by his orange and black pocket flask, his black and orange beer mug, his orange ties with black polka dots, his orange underwear with black stripes, and his motorcycle. Less casual than Yale's, the P.U. campus is more romantic. Social activities take place in the eating clubs – modified fraternities. Favorite topics of conversation; non-metaphysical approaches to sex, last year's basketball team, and the tiger's superiority to the bulldog. DO: Read F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise. DO NOT: Ask who Bill Bradley is. (2)

- Miscellany News 1967:

Princeton men may appear like Yalies, but in dress Princetonians run more toward tweed. They tend to be label conscious down to their unmentionables, and the like to talk about prep schools. One of the big decisions of the Princeton man's life was where to 'prep' – Choat or Lawrenceville? You had better know that Princeton's symbol is the tiger. You can't help but know that its colors are orange and black: you'll see them everywhere – on ties, jackets, hats, scarves, banners, and umbrellas. It has been said that Princeton men celebrate Halloween 365 days a year. The campus is beautiful, but when you get there, do not mention Yale, especially in terms of a merger with Vassar. Local folk Heroes are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cosmo Jacovozzi, and Bill Bradley. Know who they are, but even more important, forget that Princeton lost to Agnes Scott College in the College Bowl.

Harvard


- Vassar Chronicle 1956:

I hate to be a snob, but

- Miscellany News 1961:

Harvard Men date more Radcliffe and Wellesley ggirls than any other breed of college girl. Nonetheless, while there's life, there's hope. The Harvard Man can be identified by his green book bag, his hornrimmed glasses, his supercilious smile and his ubiquitous intellect. He is superior and he knows it. Favorite topics of conversation: Kierkegaard, Kant and Kennedy. The Harvard Man does not discuss free love and relative morality. Trademarks of the 'Kremlin on the Charles': the Yard, the Square, the MTA, and the Coop. Transportation: rides with IBM men and bus – five hour trip.

- Miscellany News 1965:

Less prominent in Vassar's social life, the Kremlin on the Charles is still accessible. Harvard men are superior and they know it. A Harvard man can be identified by his green book back, his horned rimmed glasses and blatantly ubiquitous intellect. Favorite topics of conversation: Kierkegaard, Kant, and the Kennedys. The Harvard man does not talk about sex. DO: Read the Crimson. DO NOT: make snide remarks about Radcliffe or mention Operation Match. (3)

Junior Prom 1968

Junior Prom 1968

- Miscellany News 1967:

The most haughty of the eastern men are the boys from Harvard. They do not stray from Boston much, however. (200 colleges in Boston provide too much date material). Harvard men will run the gamut from the bearded, sandaled, green book back type to the Brooks Brothers aristocrat who has had seven generations behind him and all in Porcellian Club (the one Franklin D. Roosevelt couldn't get into). All Harvard men tend to be sophisticated, worldly and acutely conscious that they are Harvard men.

"The Others"

Dartmouth


- Chronicle 1956:

The Dartmouth man is an overgrown boy scout who holds a mid-term celebration involving all members of the female sex, skiis, and sleeping bags. These boys also seem to have a great fear of snakes, for preventative medicine is with them at all times.

- Miscellany News 1961:

Rowdy, animalistic. Isolated, therefore wild. Ninety percent of Dartmouth Men wear green sweaters ninety percent of the time. Most famous weekends: Winter Carnival (a Vassar girl was queen this year) and Green Key. These weekends start on Thursday and end on Monday. Transportation: bus.

- Miscellany News 1965:

Ninety percent of Dartmouth men wear green hero jackets ninety percent of the time. Dartmouth is athletic and isolated, and weekends are wet and wild. Biggest attractions are Winter Carnival (skiing and all that) and Green Key (camping out). DO: catch up on your sleep before a weekend at Dartmouth. DO NOT: Ask about the basketball team.

- Miscellany News 1967:

If you like to get back to nature, a friendship with Dartmouth is in order. The Indians like to dress in green jackets with 'Dartmouth' printed unmistakably in white letters across the back. Since girls are about as scarce as dinosaurs around Hanover, N.H., your presence will be an occasion. However, this means your Dartmouth friend will be more persistent about getting his point across. 'Carnival' and 'Green Key' are the big weekends, and they are spoken of reverently. Take clothes to Dartmouth that you never cared about – they'll get covered with beer, anyway. Don't ask a Dartmouth man why in God's name he went to a place where you have to drive three hours to go to a mixer. It's a cinch he either likes snow year round or couldn't get into any other eastern school that the folks back home in Dubuque had ever heard of.

Amherst


- Chronicle 1956:

How unfortunate Lord Jeff established his college many miles away.

- Miscellany News 1961:

The intelligentsia of the Little League. Rather spoiled by proximity to Smith and Holyoke.

Pairing off for the night

Pairing off for the night

- Miscellany News 1965:

The intelligentsia of the Little Three, but rather spoiled by proximity to Smith and Holyoke. They're great guys though, and we're trying hard… DO: Circulate your freshman directory there. DO NOT: Ask if they think the drinking age should be raised in New York.

- Miscellany News 1967:

Amherst is a charming New England college, but not one you're likely to see, as Amherst men are spoiled by their proximity to Smith, Mount Holyoke, and the University of Massachusetts. Besides being smug about their situation, Amherst men tend to be smug about being intellectually superior to nearly everyone and everything. If you do get to Amherst for a weekend, be very casual – even slovenly. A pair of clean jeans will make you feel overdressed. Try to enjoy drinking beer from an Amherst paper cup. Remember that the 'h' in Amherst is silent: pain is visible on an Amherst man's face when you pronounce the name of his school wrong.

Williams


- Chronicle 1956:

It is believed that here are the men who decided in the latter part of June that they preferred a small college to a large university.

- Miscellany News 1961:

Freezing. Bring warm clothes. Big fraternity school. Williams men are gentlemen, but beware.

- Miscellany News 1965:

Willaims men are the 'boys' next door and lots of fun. The big word is 'subscendence' which refers to the following exchange: "I'll bet you think you're better than I am"… "Well, you are"

The Williams campus is picturesque and typically New England. DO: Learn the difference between the school and the bar (Williams is also the name of a local hot spot). DO NOT: Say you don't like the Rolling Stones, or play the ultrasophisticate role, or mention the fraternity system.

- Miscellany News 1967:

Williams is the second of the Little Three, and another nice New England college. Williams men, however, however, are more preppy, dress more formally, and observe the social amenities more than their Amherst counterparts. More importantly, they travel to distant woman's colleges, inasmuch as Mt. Greylock Community College and Bennington are their only convenient sources of feminine pulchritude. Fraternities are no longer extant there, but if you talk to an upperclassman, he will be glad to tell you about the 'good old days' when the frats were still alive and drinking.

Columbia

- Miscellany News 1961:

The urbanites of the Ivy League. These young men are not quite as impressed by college weekends and college girls as their brothers at other men's institutions are. Columbia's main advantage is New York, so bring dressier clothes than usual.

- Miscellany News 1965:

Columbia men are cosmopolitan and intellectual, but less suave than their Yale or Princeton counterparts. With New York City as a campus, date possibilities are unlimited. Columbia men can discuss everything. DO: Learn to light your own cigarette, because he won't light it for you. Get to know grad students. DO NOT: Ask if he likes Barnard girls.

- Miscellany News 1967:

Columbia men never forget that their school is in New York. They seldom leave that bustling city to make an appearance on the much more bucolic Vassar campus, and when they do, you may notice them experiencing a slight culture shock at the change of pace. Columbia men are more often than not long-haired, liberal and intellectual. If you can snag one, try to present the benighted country girl image, and he will show you the city. Otherwise, you may find yourself sitting in one of the regular Columbia hangouts the entire weekend. Do not ask a Columbia man if he applied to Harvard (he probably did). Do discuss politics, urban problems, and anything else that's on your mind with him. If you don't feel like talking, just remember that Barnard girls are noted for, shall we say, their disheveled appearances – he'll probably be glad to just sit and stare at you.

Wesleyan

- Miscellany News 1961:

Sweetness and light. Very informal. Bring Bermudas for picnics.

- Miscellany News 1965:

Wesleyan is the most casual of the Little Three; you can get through an entire weekend in Bermuda shorts. The Wesman is intellectual and very gentlemanly. Great topic of conversation: Richard Wilber teaches there. DO: Hear the Glee Club, one of the best in the East. DO NOT: Mention last year's Little Three skateboard competition. (4)

- Miscellany News 1967:

While the collegians from Wesleyan may be the dregs of the little Three, they are often very presentable and in fact most likely to break the Little Three Code and actually spend money on you. In fact, there are intellectual types at Wesleyan who apparently feel they can do their optimum work at a provincial college surrounded by urban squalor. Rock and roll is big Wesleyan, and 97 per cent of the campus plays the guitar. In any case, a trip to Middletown is worthwhile, especially if you like dirty factories are considering becoming a VISTA worker. (5)

Cornell

- Chronicle 1956:

Commonly observed is the rugged outdoor man drowning in a small body of water known as Cayuga's Gin. Some maintain that there are girls here, too.

- Miscellany News 1961:

The most beautiful campus on the east coast. Best parties in the East, especially Spring Weekend. You'd better sleep five days beforehand, for you don't sleep from the minute you arrive till the minute you board the bus for home. Outdoor activities as well as the usual indoor ones.

Dancing at the Junior Prom

Dancing at the Junior Prom

- Miscellany News 1965:

With its beautiful, fraternity-ridden campus (there are over fifty), Cornell has a wide variety of parties, especially Spring Weekend. Expect big-name entertainment, picnics, lots of rock and roll and lakes dyed green, red blue, etc… DO: Say you love the Sherwoods, their singing group. DO NOT: Refer to Cornell as a State University.

Colgate

- Chronicle 1956:

Luckily the Colgate man comes equipped with three hinges on his elbow which facilitates mug, can, and glass lifting.

Penn

- Chronicle 1956:

This is a far away place with strange sounding songs.

Trinity

- Miscellany News 1967:

Trinity is a college on the periphery of Hartford, on the periphery of the Little Three. But Trinity is not in the Little Three: it is the Lonely One. It is not fair to label Trinity men 'preppy rejects' – in fact, some of them are public school rejects. When turned down at several other Eastern schools, the Trinity man simply shrugs his shoulders, begins drinking, and tries to figure out why he didn't get into Yale when the headmaster was absolutely sure he would. Whatever you do, don't ask people from Trinity where they wanted to go to school.

West Point, IBM, Marish, Dutchess Community College

- Miscellany News 1961:

West Point: Bring lots of money: your cadet won't have any. Don't be insulted if a West Pointer calls you a drag. This is only military jargon for a date. Be prepared to do a lot of walking with your tireless companion. If you are lucky, you will get to stay at the famous Thayer Hotel. If you are unlucky, you will pay for your own room at a boarding house.


IBM: Poughkeepsie's greatest natural resource. Many recent college graduates work for this organization, which is conveniently located a few miles from the campus. IBM Men know 'where to go' in Poughkeepsie and are cooperative dates if there is a bad meal in the dorm. Their availability for weekday dating is their chief asset.

- Miscellany News 1965:


West Point: Among our closest neighbors is West Point, although you'd never know it. Strict social regulations put a damper on dating. The West Point campus is lovely and weekends are formal – a nice change. DO: Bring lots of money; your date won't have any. DO NOT: Say you're a pacifist.

IBM, Marist, and Dutchess Community College: Because of their proximity these natural resources provide informal week day dates. DO: Try to find a dinner date when beef stroganoff is being served in the dorm. DO NOT: Use the expression 'townie' in their presence.

- Miscellany News 1967:

Vassar girls will do well to cultivate acquaintances at West Point. As for Marist, IBM, and Dutchess Community College, it is sufficient to point out that they exist.


Footnotes

  1. Anne Goheen '63 English major.
  2. Bill Bradley is an American Hall of Fame basketball player, Rhodes Scholar, Senator from New Jersey, and presidential candidate for the Democratic primary in 2000.
  3. Operation Match was a computerized matchmaking service for college students started by Harvard students in 1965.
  4. Richard Wilber is an American poet, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.
  5. VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service To America, a program that tries to find long-term solutions to poverty through community-based work by volunteers.

Sources

Vassar College Library, The Miscellany News

Vassar College Library, The Chronicle


SRH, 2007