Judith Moffett, interview with Caroline Brunner (HC 2018), 29 Sept. 2016.
The following transcript is slightly edited for clarity; the original is available at the Hanover College Archives.]
Caroline Brunner: Where did you find this passion for civil rights and all of that sort of stuff?
Judith Moffett: Okay, I was born in Louisville. My parents both grew up in Louisville, my mother since birth and my father from the age of 12 -- he was born in Tyrone, near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in Anderson County, a little country town. Both of them had been exposed their whole lives to the racial attitudes of Kentucky farmers and other working-class people, who hadn't been educated past eighth grade, if even that. My parents both finished high school, but in the 1930s in Kentucky racist beliefs went unquestioned by just about everybody who was white.
With my mother, this conditioning stuck. She was not an original thinker and it was what she had always been taught, always heard and always seen acted out. My father is a different case, he is kind of . . . not normal. A lot of us think that about our fathers, probably. But his father, my grandfather, had died when Dad was two, and his earliest memory is of following the hearse in a wagon. So he had that as a primary life-shaping experience. Then his mother remarried, and his stepfather, whom he was very attached to as a young child, turned out to be an alcoholic like the rest of his family. So my father seems to have responded to this double whammy by shutting down. He just was not socialized in the ways people normally are with regard to family and community; everything that was emotional he turned into something rational, I think as a self-protective defense. In most ways, this was dreadful. But in this one particular way it worked to his advantage; it kept him from internalizing the racial attitudes that prevailed around him. My mother never questioned the attitudes she had absorbed while she was growing up, but my father was not racist, not at all. Racism is emotional, not rational, and he was emotionally shut down.
So that's my family background, as far as these issues go. But personally, even as a little kid, I had always been drawn to people who were different, I imagine because I had always sensed a difference in myself. We moved to Cincinnati in 1945, when I was three. There was a Chinese boy in my fourth-grade class, named Robert Ling; I was fascinated with him. Not as a person, because I didn't know him as a person, but because he was so different from the rest of us -- he had an accent, he was from Hong Kong -- I was powerfully attracted to that. He picked me once to help him pass out papers to the class, and I was flattered to pieces. Also our neighborhood was, as they said back then, in the process of "turning," and there was one black boy in my school, named Vernon Minafee. His family was one of the first black families to move into the school district. He was in a different fourth grade, but I knew him slightly and was intrigued by him too. Then we moved, and I went to a new school where every one of the kids was white, and the whole subject just kind of drifted out of mind.
But a couple of years later we moved again, and I started seventh grade at Walnut Hills High School, a six-year school, where I would guess 10 to 15 percent of the student population was black. In 7th grade I got to know and became good friends with a black girl named Marlaina Kiner. We had several classes together and ate lunch together, and we got along great. We both had little brothers; mine was two and hers was three. There are two stories I can tell you about Marlaina. Back then, when your school picture was taken, you could buy prints in several sizes, an 8x10 for your parents, 5x7s for grandparents or whoever, and a whole sheet of little ones that you could cut apart and trade for pictures of your friends. Do they still do that?
Brunner: No . . . I have never really done that before.
Moffett: Oh. Well, this is quite a long time ago. But anyway, one of the people I traded pictures with was Marlaina. And one day my grandmother, my mother's mother, came to visit us in Cincinnati, and in my wallet I had several of these class pictures of my closest friends, and she was looking through them and came across Marlaina's picture. And she literally gasped, and said, "Who's this little colored girl?" And I said, "That's Marlaina Kiner, she's one of my best friend." And Granny said . . . I can't reconstruct the conversation exactly, but somehow the subject of lunch came up, and she said to me, "Do you mean to tell me that you sit down and eat lunch with that little colored girl?" She was absolutely horrified. This struck me as hilarious, ridiculous and bizarre, that she should react like that; I remember laughing and laughing while she was sitting there all appalled. Then she sort of pulled herself together and said, "Well, that's a right pretty little colored girl," and that was the end of that; but I'm sure she had a thing or two to say to my mother about it later.
Which probably, now that I think of it, has some bearing on my other story about Marlaina. Her birthday was right at the end of the school year. She was having a party, and I was flattered to death to be one of only three white girls who were invited to it. But when I told my mother I'd been invited to Marlaina's birthday party, she said I couldn't go, that if I accepted I would then be socially obligated to invite her back, and she wasn't about to invite Marlaina to our house, so it was out of the question. I was shocked, but she meant it. I would give anything to be able to tell you that I had just said, "I'm going anyway, you can't stop me," or just gone to the party without permission. But I was a little too young at twelve to be acting that independently, and there were logistical problems, since this was not a neighborhood school, it was an hour on the bus to get to Marlaina's house. So . . . I had to go to school and make up some cockamamie excuse for why I couldn't come to the party. I was so ashamed, and so humiliated, and so angry, that my mother had forced me to lie to her -- a lie Marlaina saw right through, of course.
Finally, while I was at Hanover I had a summer job as the Nature Specialist at a Girl Scout Camp, and there were a couple of black counselors on the staff. One of them, named Deedee, I got to know quite well and liked a lot. By this time I knew what would probably happen, but I decided to give my mother another chance and told her I wanted to bring Deedee home with me the next time we had a break between sessions. Her response: "You know I can't do that." My mother was a staunch Baptist, and I constantly pointed out to her the hypocrisy of her attitude. My little brother was seven or eight at that time, so in the middle of one of our fights I said, "What if it was your little boy, and you're driving around, and you stop someplace to get a coke or an ice cream cone or something. And they won't serve you, and it's your little boy? How would you feel?" And she actually said, "Well, maybe. Maybe." And then, "I know I'm wrong, but I can't help it, it's how I was brought up." And how I wish I had had the presence of mind to say, "That's how I was brought up too! You're not condemned to go on believing what you were taught as a child when you know it's wrong!" I just was astonished that she admitted she was wrong, yet went on doing what she knew to be wrong because she was brought up that way. Of course she had my grandmother breathing down her neck. So, in terms of background, that's where I'm from and what was expected of me.
Brunner: How did you first hear about Hanover? And did that background play into your decision about college?
Moffett: No, no . . . it didn't. Nobody in my family had ever been to college. Both my parents had graduated from high school, which was quite exceptional in both their families. My father's brothers and sisters didn't finish high school. His stepfather was thrown off the farm where he'd been working, and this was during the Depression, so when he was twelve his family moved to Louisville so his stepfather could get work, and Dad went to Male High there, which at that time was a very good school. He also got a paper route delivering the Courier Journal. At some point he started playing the clarinet, and eventually got good enough that he was offered a chance at a music scholarship to UK, but by then he was engaged to my mother, and she didn't want him going off to Lexington. He always regretted not going to college and was determined that his children would get college educations.
My parents were friends at church with people who had a daughter, three years older than me, who went to Hanover. So Hanover was already within my parents' frame of reference, and since neither of them had gone to college, and none of their friends had either, and they knew nothing about the different colleges, that recognition factor played a big role, as did the fact that it was church affiliated. The school counselor kept urging all of us with decent CETs to apply to the Seven Sisters, but that was out for me. My financial limit per semester was $2,000 -- this was 1959, remember -- and unlike Mount Holyoke or Vassar, Hanover fit our budget. I visited Earlham too, but when we came to Hanover I fell head over heels in love with the beauty of the campus. A lot of people do, I guess. Also, I had the idea that I wanted to write children's books, and Hanover had a kiddie lit course, and that was attractive to me, though in fact it was a course for el ed majors and focused on little kids, and my target age group was 11-14, so it really was no use to me. Also I had a fiance in Cincinnati, and didn't want to go very far from home. So that's how I found out about the college and why I chose to come here, and why my parents were all for it.
Brunner: When you came into Hanover did you have any preconceived notions about social organizations?
Moffett: I did. I had refused to join a high school sorority, but sororities weren't that important in high school. Hanover, though, was different; at that time the student body was something like 94% Greek. There was no college-sponsored social life at all, so no organized social life unless you were in a sorority or fraternity. I had disappointed my mother very much when I decided not to join a sorority at Walnut Hills. She wanted to have a vicarious social life through me -- she'd never been allowed to go to dances, for instance, because her mother was so strict and the church said that dancing was sinful. She pressured me to go to semi-formals and proms, and I caved; there was some emotional blackmail going on there.
I was trying so hard to get my mother's approval that if rush had happened when I first got to Hanover I would probably have joined ADPi. But rush didn't start until the break between semesters, and by then I had met some kindred souls. They were geeky and looked down upon, but they were interested in literature and writing, and I thought they were great. Some were Greeks who had dropped out and some were independents, but they all felt like I did about the sorority/fraternity scene, so by the time rush started I had made up my mind not to join. But my mother insisted that I go through rush anyway, hoping I would change my mind. That didn't happen, not surprisingly. I thought the whole system was both dumb and cruel. My roommate had her heart broken because she didn't get into the sorority of her dreams. I watched her sit on her bed and sob, and thought the idea of sorority girls passing judgment on their fellow students, and eliminating you as an inferior being if you didn't measure up to their standards, was indefensible. So my experience at Hanover was different from that of the average Hanover student, because I went through the four years without that group identity that almost everybody else had -- not living in the Phi Mu house, wearing the little pin, doing everything with my fellow Phi Mus, everyone instantly knowing where to place you on the social hierarchy. That's how that was back then.
Forming the Civil Rights Committee
There were five black students at the college in my senior year -- I think it was five. In the fall of that year my friend Robb Baker, who was a sophomore at the time, approached me and said he'd been thinking that we ought to start a civil rights group. Black students couldn't get haircuts in Hanover, they had to hitch rides to Madison for that. One of the girls had ordered a sandwich in a department store soda shop in Madison and been told she would have to take it outside. I agreed with Robb that we should identify the businesses that were doing this and see if we could persuade them to change their ways. So we got ourselves a faculty sponsor and set up an introductory meeting.
That evening several faculty members came besides the sponsor. Very nice to have that unlooked-for support. I knew they were glad to see this happen, and I guess they thought -- because of the administration's fear that the trustees were going to pitch a fit about it -- that we would probably need all the support we could get. Robb and I didn't really know what we were getting into, it just seemed like a good thing to do. And really it was just lunch counters and haircuts. It was that modest a goal. We thought we should gather some information, and follow it up and see if we could persuade these proprietors to make exceptions for our students, and then maybe that would open the doors for more people. How those black students happened to be at Hanover I don't know. There were two girls, Shirley Bryant and another whose name I've forgotten. I suspect the two of them were accepted so they could room together. The other girl was quiet, but Shirley was quite an imposing presence. I liked her a lot.
So anyway, there we were. Since Robb was a sophomore and I was a senior, I got up and led the meeting and I said a few words about why we had decided to start a group like this, and what our goals were. There was quite a good turnout, which felt encouraging at first. I didn't notice while I was speaking, but in the audience was one member from each sorority and each fraternity. There were a few other students too, but a majority was Greek. When I called for questions, a hand went up and I called on the person, and he said "Why are you really starting this group?" -- sounding hostile and suspicious. I wasn't expecting that; I had just explained why we were starting it. But we learned within a couple of days that all the Greek organizations thought the administration had put some independents up to raising this question, in order to expose the sororities and fraternities as segregated. This was especially ironic because Robb was a Phi Gamma Delta (inactive) and he'd had no more idea they were segregated than I did. I knew our black students weren't in them, but I guess I just assumed they had better sense. Anyway I was dumbfounded, first that the Greeks at the organizational meeting hadn't believed what I'd said, and second when it turned out that Hanover's sororities and fraternities were segregated. This wasn't just me being naïve. Two of my friends dropped out of ADPi when they found out it was segregated -- the question had never crossed their minds before.
So a certain amount of consciousness-raising did happen as a result of the meeting, but mostly I found out that the student body as a whole did not support the proposal because they had self-interest at stake. And the other thing I found out was that you can't control who joins a volunteer group. I found that out when people who I would not have wanted to work with turned up at the first meeting. I remember my heart sinking when one guy in particular showed up. He was an English major and I'd been in a lot of classes with him. He was absolutely the wrong person to talk to defensive barbers and drugstore managers, he had no people skills at all.
Probably more than anything else, starting that group taught me how little I understood my world. I was majoring in English and philosophy and just enjoying my college experience, I knew very little about what you might call real life. Anyway, as you know, after bumbling around a bit on our own to little effect, we took our idea of a civil rights group to the Student Senate; we thought that if it were formed as a subcommittee under the auspices of the Student Senate, that would at least establish it in an official sort of way. And the person who, well, you read the article. We got it to first base, where it died.It was very disappointing to learn what I learned about the college administration. You read my articles from the Triangle, I assume, the interviews with the President and the Dean, questioning why minorities weren't represented on the faculty and staff and among the student body. Those articles were about as wildly popular with President Horner and Dean Haverkamp as you can imagine they would be. But that was about all there was left to do, and I was a writer, so I did that. The editor of the Triangle that year, Dave Larson, was also on the board of Hillthoughts, the literary magazine, and I was the editor of Hillthoughts and on the editorial board of the Triangle. So we were on each other's boards, and went to each other's meetings. And Dave was very supportive of what I was doing, even though the administration was unhappy about it. Of course they had to worry about money and the trustees, people withholding donations, legacy members of sororities and fraternities, all that sort of thing. I understood that, sort of. But the moral side of the subject didn't seem to carry any weight with them, and that was a shock and a disappointment.
Brunner: When the sororities and fraternities heard about your organization - was there any sort of physical protest or any actual retaliation?
Moffett: No. Maybe at some point they realized we weren't getting anywhere, alone or with the Student Senate, and that the administration was not behind us, and that this wasn't a move against the Greek organizations on the administration's part. Anyway, they backed off. We were just two green students after all, with no authority behind us, trying to make a difference and not realizing what we were getting into. Southern Indiana was a scary place at that time, I didn't know it and Robb didn't know it, but it was. Sending students into Madison with their notepads, to talk to owners of lunch counters - that was not really a safe thing to do. This was the fall of 1963, and remember what happened in Mississippi in the summer of 1964? I would have gone to Mississippi too if I'd known about it, but I didn't until it was blasted all over the news after Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were murdered. But that's exactly the type of thing I wanted to do, I wanted to go and put my life on the line and DO something to help - something real and substantial. Because what we had done was mostly symbolic. I didn't mean for it to be, but I was so appalled at and astonished by the degree of opposition from both the administration and the student body that it sort of took my breath away and drained my energy. I don't know how much my Triangle articles accomplished either. Made a few people think, maybe.
Made a few people mad for sure! I remember that in the spring of 64, when I was about to graduate, I was walking from . . . well somewhere to somewhere, over a little piece of grass. Students were supposed to keep off the grass (though the President's children played on it all the time). President Horner was outside and saw me, and he yelled at me from all the way across the Quad, "JUDY! GET OFF THE GRASS!" Ridiculous, but he was pissed at me and that's how it came out, in a little burst of temper. Maybe he thought I was showing disrespect for his authority by walking on the grass, just as I guess he had when he read those Triangle pieces. He was pissed at Robb too, but Robb had got out of his way by then by transferring to IU. Anyway I got off the grass.
Brunner: So were there a lot of administrators who were turned off by you guys? Or maybe aggressive like that?
Moffett: Well, no. The dean of the college, Haverkamp, wasn't uncivil that I recall -- maybe he was just a better politician. When I interviewed him he didn't give me the feeling that he despised me. But as I recall it, Horner did give me that feeling. The faculty though, let it be said, was very supportive as a group. Faculty and administration are famously adversarial, and that was certainly true at Hanover at the time, though I didn't know that and I doubt many students did.
There was another clear sign of administrative hostility though, when it came time to draw up the ballot for the Alumni Awards. These were awards given to a group of high-profile seniors, who were felt to have made a significant contribution to campus life in some way. They had to be good students and have a presence on campus and be known for some achievements, in academics or athletics or student government -- that sort of thing. And 99 percent of them, down through the years, had always been Greek, because nearly all the student body was Greek. The list of names was created by the administration for the faculty to vote on. And my name wasn't on the ballot, and by any objective standard it should have been, whether or not I was ultimately chosen for an award. I didn't know I wasn't on the ballot at first, because in fact I did get an Alumni Award, and there was another independent who got one too -- I think there were twelve presented that year. But one day shortly before graduation, the director of the library, Mr. Mann, drew me aside and told me that when the faculty got the ballot and saw that I had been left off, some of them sort of organized and wrote me in -- enough of them that I got one of the awards. I have to think that the administration was taking a backhanded, secret sort of revenge when they left me off the ballot, and certainly that's what Mr. Mann believed -- he was very indignant about it. But only President Horner was openly hostile to me.
I did something else that must have really rankled the administration. We used to have at least once a week, sometimes more, where you had an assigned seat and attendance was taken -- I bet you can't imagine such a thing! And because they were subjecting us to this without our consent, and some of the talks were so deadly, I felt it was fair to review them. So every week I would write a review of the speaker's talk, grade it, and publish the review in the Triangle. I didn't give them all a poor grade, some of the talks were quite good and some were so-so. But also some were pretty awful, and I said so in print. That's the kind of thing that doesn't make you popular with administrators.
Brunner: And with those mandatory meetings, was there ever commentary about race issues, about what was happening in country?
Moffett: Not that I remember. I'm pretty sure I would remember it if they had been, it was so much on my mind that year. I think most of the talks were supposed to be inspirational -- this was compulsory chapel, after all. I've followed the alumni magazine since graduation and I know things are a lot different now. But in those days the campus was isolated from the world. Probably that was what the administration was aiming at.
Brunner: A lot of people I have talked to have described it almost like a bubble. That while all the turmoil was going on, Hanover was isolated.
Moffett: That's right. Though you did get the occasional person who would stick his head outside the bubble. Robb and I weren't the only ones who weren't followers. I've mentioned Dave Larson, the editor of the Triangle our senior year, and there were others.
But I want to emphasize how much more happy than disgruntled I was at Hanover. You might not think so, from everything I've said. But the bubble effect had its positive side; it let you grow and develop without too many distractions, which in my case was very helpful. My husband used to say what a shame it was that I hadn't gone to a college like Bryn Mawr, or some other place where there was a real intellectual presence; but the truth is that I wasn't ready for that. I had just come out of the Baptist cloister. I needed a halfway house, and Hanover was the perfect halfway house for me. I was able to work out who I was and what I believed against the background of the student body in general, without being overwhelmed. For instance, as a sophomore I stopped wearing makeup and high heels, which I'd always disliked, except for Wednesday and Sunday dinners, when we had to dress up. I challenged some practices and broke some rules, but I did it carefully, after thinking about it and deciding when they really needed breaking. I met people in and out of the Greek system who weren't cookie-cutter types either. We were aware that this was a terribly conservative place, but compared to where I had come from it felt tremendously freeing.
And Hanover did a very good job of educating me, sometimes in ways it didn't intend! For instance, when I came to Hanover I believed literally in the story of Genesis; I was uncomfortable with it but I was still more or less in the fold. After a year of biology, I understood that evolution was true. The truth of it fell on me like a ton of bricks, and I saw that if evolution was true then Genesis couldn't be. I know that some people can live comfortably with two conflicting thoughts in their heads, but for me that wasn't possible. So, I went home and told my parents that I was leaving the church. And you can imagine; it was as if I'd come out to them as gay. Then my sophomore year I had a year-long course called "Man's Dilemma in Biblical Understanding," which was the history of Christianity, how the New Testament had been put together. I was dumbfounded to learn that none of the gospels had been written till sixty years or so after the crucifixion, that the story had been passed along by oral transmission and inevitably changed in the way things people tell each other always do change. It happens even when things are written down, if the change makes for a better story! So by the end of my sophomore year, I not only was not a fundamentalist, I was no longer a Christian. That certainly wasn't the goal of the Man's Dilemma course! But I was still hanging on to a sense of the spiritual, because my religious life had meant so much to me, I couldn't let go of it without a struggle and a huge sense of loss. I took some more theology courses, but those didn't undo what I'd learned about evolution and the Bible; once you've seen something, you can't not see it. But it took time to make those profound philosophical and emotional adjustments, and Hanover gave me time. Whereas if you'd thrown me into the deep end at Bryn Mawr, where nobody had come from a fundamentalist family . . .
Brunner: I want to ask you about another article you wrote about hiring minority professors. I just want to get your thoughts on what was the importance of hiring black professors and what do you think about the historically black colleges telling Hanover to stop hiring black professors because they were trying to consolidate the available "black talent" for HBCs?
Moffett: I don't think I was focusing that much, or maybe not at all, on the importance of challenging Hanover students by exposing them to the points of view of people who come from different backgrounds. As best I can recall, I was mostly thinking about opportunities for black professors to get jobs in higher education -- thinking about professors and administrators the same way I was thinking about students. Why are there so few of them? What are we doing wrong? Is there a policy that's keeping the numbers so low?
Now, when you talk about the idea of consolidating black talent and keeping it in the black community, I can agree that maybe there is a transitional phase where that's important. But I'm passionately in favor of integration and always have been -- integrated neighborhoods, integrated schools and churches, interracial marriages for that matter. And what's happening now, black professional people setting up enclaves in major cities like Atlanta, in the suburbs, creating exclusively black spaces, I find that understandable but disheartening and disappointing. I've always hoped that the end result of the civil rights struggle would be everyone mixing together in one big happy family, and things just didn't work out the way I wanted. I mean integration is what we were working toward, it was what Martin Luther King Jr. was aiming at; but I see now that not everybody was on that page. And even Dr. King was starting to wonder, in the time just before he was assassinated, about his nonviolent ideology, because it wasn't moving things forward fast enough and black people were losing patience with it. They were starting to pay more attention to the Black Power movement, which advocated violent protest. While I was teaching at Penn there was a huge standoff between MOVE and the police in West Philadelphia - do you know about that? In 1985. Black militants in a black neighborhood were standing off the police with rifles, and the police finally bombed the house where they were holed up. You can see the present preference for racial separatism springing from exactly that kind of thing, I think.
In high school I joined the NAACP. I went down to the office and I signed up. I walked in and there was a large black man sitting behind a desk. I told him I wanted to join and they let me pay my money gave me my membership material, but they didn't talk with me at all. Maybe they thought it was some kind of sorority initiation stunt. I used to leave my membership card on my desk in my room, so our cleaner, who was black, would see it. I will say, my brother and sister and I, who agree on almost nothing else, and who grew up in this totally racist household, have no racial prejudices. We all reacted against my mother's feelings about race. My brother lived in a black neighborhood in Cincinnati for years, and his daughter, my niece, was best friends with a black girl she went to school with. My brother raised a colorblind kid! Actually my niece's friend told her she was the blackest white girl in the school. My mother failed completely to pass on her own racist attitudes to her kids.
Brunner: Is there anything else that you want to say on record about Hanover or your experience, any anecdotes or commentary?
Moffett: Well, maybe I'll say again that for all the things this conversation has brought out that are negative, I was still tremendously happy at Hanover. I mean, you have to bear in mind where I'd come from. At Hanover I could finally think for myself and act on what I thought, didn't have to go to school dances, didn't have to wear makeup and do the cookie-cutter girl things that my mother thought I should do. Didn't have to join a sorority! Some of the faculty members were also important mentors to me -- one of them took me and my roommate down to Payne Hollow and introduced us to the Hubbards! So I was very happy here, in a kind of ignorant way, ignorant I mean about the seething hostilities between the faculty and the administration, and, for the first three years, about the secret segregation policy among the Greeks. There was something about that small beautiful campus where you could walk everywhere, and get to know the professors, and you could go down to Happy Valley - which I will probably do tomorrow - all of that mattered to me. So I did enjoy living here. And I did learn a lot, not all of it the kind you can put into the curriculum.
I was officially penalized twice for thinking for myself.
I was put on social probation at the end of my freshman year for coming in late for closing. The reason I chose to do that was that I was engaged when I arrived at Hanover, and I'd gone out one evening with a guy who explained to me why I couldn't marry the man I was engaged to. And he was so right. And I needed some more time for that conversation, so I took it. My parents got a letter from the Dean of Women and my mother threw a fit. But I learned that sometimes you have to break the rules if the reason is good enough, and accept the consequences. I mean that's what Dr. King did; he packed his jail suitcase when he went on his marches, he knew he was breaking the law and accepted that he would have to pay for that.
And the other time was in my senior year -- this may have been a bit of spite on the part of the administration. There was a rule then that college women could not wear pants in the classroom buildings. I know, big joke now. But my friend Celia and I, two independents, were taking a philosophy seminar. It met once a week, on the third floor of Classic Hall, from 4 to 6 on Friday afternoons. There were five people in the seminar and we were the only two women. We thought the dress code was stupid in general and totally stupid in that situation, so we just slipped in the side door and went upstairs, wearing our jeans. Someone, I never knew who it was, saw us and reported us. We had to appear before a board, the dean of Women and some other people, to account for our behavior, and here we were ready to graduate, and I at least was covered with academic honors. Sort of like GET OFF THE GRASS! But Celia had been to Denmark for her junior year abroad, and she said, very calmly, 'In Copenhagen the female students wear anything they want to class and it doesn't affect their seriousness or their application to their studies one bit.' It was an unanswerable argument, better than anything I could say. The college's idea was that the dress code enforced seriousness of attitude, and that you had to conform to the rule no matter what you thought about it because it was a group living situation, and if people start thinking and questioning and breaking the rules, chaos will result. There was actually a time, I believe starting in my junior year, when women were not allowed to wear sweatshirts to lunch on Saturdays, which had hitherto been allowed, because if we did then the guys would do it, and if they'd been shooting baskets before lunch then they would be sweaty and smelly. I don't know which brain-dead administrator came up with that one. But one of the lessons I learned at Hanover was to pick my battles, just say oh what the hell and go along with, for instance, the sweatshirt thing, because it didn't really matter. But I also learned when to say no, and be prepared to accept whatever punishment they were dealing out. I was never one for sneaking around.
Well . . . of course I did sneak into Classic Hall!