“BE A LADY AT ALL TIMES!” Rules for Rollins Women, 1961-1962

Cover and first page of the Rollins book of student rules, 1961-1962.  The final line of the introduction reminds women to “BE A LADY AT ALL TIMES!”

The 1961-62 edition of the College’s student rules booklet contains three sections:  “Women’s Rules,”  “General Rules,” and “Men’s Rules.”   Today’s reader may be struck by the difference in the amount of space devoted to each each one, however:  In a booklet of 16 pages, nine outline rules for women, while the “General Rules” take up five pages, and “Men’s Rules” just two pages.   The number of differences illustrate what a very different time it was for women attending college fifty years ago.

                  Photo of students from the 1961-1962 College catalogue

The lengthy introduction to “Women’s Rules” explains that they were “made with the following three things in mind:  safety, thoughtfulness and consideration of others, and suitability and decorum.”  (By contrast, the men’s rules are prefaced only with “The following regulations apply to all male students attending Rollins College.”)   Here are some of the rules that applied exclusively to women:

Smoking Suggestions:  “Remember:  It is not considered good taste for a woman to smoke on the street.”

Room Inspection:  “Rooms should be neat with the beds made by 12:00 noon daily.”

Callers:  “Men will be allowed in Women’s dormitories only after 10:30 a.m. every day except Sunday when they may enter the dorms after 9:30 a.m.”  (Note:  men and women visiting each other’s dorms were restricted to “public areas” and not allowed in each other’s rooms.)

                                         Orientation Week, 1961-1962

The biggest differences in the rules for men and women concerned their freedom to leave their dorm rooms and/or the campus.

Women’s Hours:  Upper-class women could stay out until 11:00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 12:00 p.m. Friday, and 1:00 on Saturday (technically 1:00 a.m. Sunday).  Hours for freshmen women were slightly more limited.  Also, “Women must remain in the dormitory until 6:00 a.m. unless permission is granted from the House Council or the Resident Head.”

Sign-outs:  “All upper-class women leaving the campus area will sign out on the SIGN-OUT SHEETS posted on their own doors.”  Freshmen had to also sign out on sheets posted to the student assistant’s door.

Sign-in:  “All women must sign in by closing hours each night in the sign-in area or room of her dormitory with the member of the House Council on duty.”

Over-night Permissions:  These were granted only with parental approval.   “You are allowed overnight permission on Friday and/or Saturday nights only.  The places in which you are allowed to stay are determined by the permission slips returned to the Dean of Women by your parents.” In addition, women could not stay in any local hotel or motel, or spend any weeknights away from campus unless they were accompanied by their parents.

Personal Permissions:  “A late permission allows you to extend your closing time one hour Sunday through Friday nights.  All women may have three late permissions per term.”  Students were informed that a “late permission slip” had to be submitted BEFORE CLOSING TIME of the night requested, and all late permissions would be cancelled for women “on academic or social warning or probation.”

Working Late Permissions:   Late Permissions of 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 a.m. were granted (with restrictions) only to those working on theatre productions or to those on the staff of The Sandspur or the Tomokan.

This was a time of change in student government at Rollins.  In the fall of 1961, The Sandspur noted that this year’s rule book was brand new and the first one to be published under the new Student Government Constitution, which gave undergraduates a greater role in governing themselves.   According to The Sandspur, “The biggest change in the setup of the women’s rules is that from now on the women’s dorm will be run by a House Council,” staffed by students.  “Women’s hours have also been changed in many instances,” allowing them to be out later than in previous years.   Personal late permissions for women were granted for the first time (The Sandspur, 9/29/1961).   And the new SGA President was a woman, the first elected to that position since the 1940s.

Below:  Members of the Student Government Executive Council, pictured in the 1961-1962 Tomokan (left to right):  Barbara Walcott, President Linda Qualls ’62, Frank Dunnill ’63, and Sally Zuengler ’62.

How did students feel about these rules?   A tongue-in-cheek piece in The Sandspur by “Deb n’ Air” addressed to “all you gals over in ‘Lizbeth Hall” offered this:

“Yeah, we all know the freshman women’s hours are a big drag.  But don’t let that bother you.  Don’t leave that drive-in show you’re so engrossed in just so you can show some drip how good you sign your name.  There’s a great way you can sneak back in by having a sheet lowered (perhaps two or three). Climb up it, squeeze around twenty feet of narrow ledges, and then have your roommate let you in the window.  Cool!  What’s that about having signed out and not signed in?  Don’t sign out!  That drip won’t know the difference anyway.

But Dean Watson’s about to campus the whole dorm because you’ve been having too much fun?. . . Think about the good side.  If you’re campused, there are so many things you can still do.  You can go to the . . .no, but you can still. . .nope that’s off too. . .come to think of it being campused might be pretty bad after all. . .Maybe you should sorta cool it for now and hope things will be looking up after the heat’s off”  (The Sandspur, 11/17/1961).

Some controversy about discrepancies in the rules for men and women arose in early 1962, after the College’s annual Fiesta celebration.  Fiesta was a regular event during the McKean administration–a kind of springtime carnival.  Students made floats, a midway appeared on campus, and Pres. Hugh McKean even rode an elephant down the street.

Pres. Hugh McKean and Dean of Women Helen Watson riding an elephant during Fiesta, March 1962.  Years later, Dean Watson later recalled Pres. McKean coming to her office and surprising her by saying,“Come on, we’re going to ride an elephant.”

But some raised the question of why women were required to remain on campus during the four-day Fiesta weekend, while men were permitted to leave.  A Sandspur writer questioned why all the women “should be forced to stay around,” asking, “Is it fair to campus only the girls, leaving the boys free to leave campus, and the girls without dates?”

According to the Fiesta co-chair, having no dates for the weekend dances was the women’s biggest complaint about this rule.  The co-chair argued in favor of this policy, though, citing College history and disagreeing with “the kind of Rollins students who always fight any shape of what we call tradition.”  She also said that being left without dates for the two Fiesta dances which should not keep women from making an effort to enjoy themselves: “Leaving is the easy way out.”

Deb n’ Air was heard from again in late spring, weighing in on room inspections for women. Her piece mentioning the “Alliance for Grime,”  also noted that “at Rollins the boys’ beds are made for them” (The Sandspur, 5/11/1962).   Earlier she had described the “heavy footfalls” of her housemother conducting her “relentless search for unmade beds” in the women’s dorm.  One student is quoted as telling the housemother, “we came here for a liberal education and gained a family, but we didn’t plan on being the children!” (The Sandspur, 4/13/1962).

The 1961-1962 handbook is unprecedented in its emphasis on ladylike behavior and the explicit rules about women leaving the dorms.  What might have triggered this change?  In her book Old Home Town, Rose Wilder Lane wrote, “It was not seen that woman’s place was in the home until she began to go out of it.” Could it be that in the early 196os, women were beginning to assert themselves in ways that made these new rules suddenly seem necessary?   Perhaps they represent what Rose Lane called “attempted resistance to irresistible change” in women’s roles.

The following photos from the 1961-1962 Tomokan are offered with no comment other than the observation that this was a very different time.

The Rollins Student Handbook of Rules and Regulations for 1961-1962 is available online at http://bit.ly/SxXVbk .  To listen to Dean Watson reminisce about her elephant ride, the first Fox Day, and closing time at Rollins, please visit http://bit.ly/RASSX0 .

~by D. Moore, Archival Specialist

2 thoughts on ““BE A LADY AT ALL TIMES!” Rules for Rollins Women, 1961-1962

  1. As always, Darla, absolutely fascinating. In 1978 (sixteen years later) the BIG issues were “open visitation” and “co-residential dorms.” The next year, both policies simply went into effect. A reminder that it is sometimes it is better (and easier) to “ask forgiveness than permission.”

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