by Martha I. Fernandez
Today, the University of La Verne is centered on academics. Most people leave the boundaries of the University to go “hang out.” But for the La Verne College of 1966, on campus student activity was as rampant as apathy is today.
Class of ’66 graduate Gary Rudin says that being on campus “was the thing to do.” On his list was hazing, a practice that is prohibited today. Ironically, hazing the freshmen was thought to be an act that promoted class unity after freshmen camp.
“They were usually [awakened] in the middle of the night at some precise time and loaded into cars. They [upperclass men] took them up to the orange groves and let them all off,” he says.
Another common practice was hazing the new freshmen football players after the first scrimmage game of the season. Rudin remembers this prank well. He played on the team his first two years at LVC. He was the perfect candidate for the ritual his freshman year.
“I was walking to the locker room, and they dropped a net on me from a pepper tree,” he says. “I got all tangled up in that, and they kicked me, hit me and jumped me. They’d stand me up, and somebody would run across the parking lot and knock me down.
“They wrapped me up in the net, threw me in the back of a van and drove me around for about an hour. They opened the door. I didn’t know where I was, but I knew I was in the mountains. They threw me out on this mountain road, and, before they left, they painted my bare back with yellow paint and put a stripe down the middle of my back and took my shoes. They took off.”
Eventually, a passerby rescued Rudin and gave him a ride back to campus. These kind of pranks, however, were not exclusive to freshmen at the beginning of the year. Homecoming was a popular event for mischief to rear its ugly head.
Thirty years ago, there were four residence halls. Women lived at Stu-Han and Miller Halls, while the men lived at Brandt and Woody. For homecoming, every hall decorated the exterior of the building with a theme. In 1966, the more morbid the theme the better. Brandt Hall took on the appearance of a mortuary.
And as Rudin explains, the men were going to do their best to frighten as many people as they could.”They got a bunch of caskets. They put a guy in a casket and ran over to Stu-Han’s lobby. They said there was a terrible accident and would someone join them for a prayer and memorial service. They put the casket down, and the guy jumped out and screamed,” says Rudin, illustrating by leaving his seat and crouching over growling. He returns to his seat laughing, “Oh, it was a trip.”
This was not the only activity where a casket was used. The 1966 Homecoming game was against the Occidental College Tigers. The class of 1966 buried “Oxy the Tiger” at La Verne Cemetery and held a pep rally on the premise.
“Things are different because the things we did then, if someone did that [now], they’d get arrested,” he says.
The Class of 1966 created a lot of mischief but also emphasized education. For the males of the class, doing well in college was their only option to not being drafted to Vietnam. “Student responsibility was a lot different for men. No guy wanted to flunk out of college because you had student deferment. As soon as you flunked out, you were enlisted,” says Rudin.
Also on campus 30 years ago, was sophomore Stephen Morgan, known then as “Closet Man” among his peers. “He always looked like he stepped out of a closet and had a freshly pressed shirt and neat pants,” says Rudin laughing. “I bet he doesn’t know that.”
Among the memories of the future University President was attending the mandatory weekly Chapel service every Tuesday morning. “If it was a good speaker, it wasn’t a drag; if it was a bad speaker, it was a real drag,” Dr. Morgan says.
In August 1966, final construction of the University Chapel was completed. As Rudin remembers, the building was not whole heartedly welcomed by students. “There was someone who didn’t want the Chapel because they took down the trees. [Protesting students] took the palm tree and carried it and the roots. They clumped it on the steps of Founders, so the tree was down the stairs,” he explains.
Along with the Chapel built in 1966 came the Rock that is now embedded in the lawn of Founders Hall. The original rock was located in front of the original Spot, which was housed in the basement level of Miller Hall, along with the bookstore. “It was the first week of school, fall of 1962, and they got somebody who was in construction to haul that rock down there during the middle of the night and take the other rock out.” The students set the new Rock and said they buried the other in the Miller Hall lawn. Replacing the Rock was a prank meant to show up Dr. Dwight Hanawalt, dean of men at the time. “Dwight used to tell students that his class brought the rock, and we used to kid him, “That’s no rock, that’s a pebble.”
The pranks and traditions practiced in the 1960s are now only memories to alumni of that era. But to present ULV students, there is still the Rock and the Chapel.