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September 30, 2011

10 Years Ago: First Online Elections for Undergraduate Student Government

Ten years ago USG concluded its first online election: the fall election for class officers. Efforts had been made over a year earlier but security concerns delayed the implementation. Online elections were seen as a way to increase voter turnout. Prior to Fall 2001, in-person voting was held at Thwing Center, normally 9-4, and in Fribley and Leutner Commons 4:30-7. Volunteers worked the polls.

The USG election commissioner worked with staff from Student Information Systems to implement a system for online voting. The system also had the “capacity for any student organization to sponsor a survey.”

“The voting and survey system takes information from CWRU’s databases and uses that information as criteria for providing the correct ballots.” A student logged in using their university user-ID and password. According to the Observer, online voting was a success and the general consensus among students was that the “online elections made voting more convenient.”[1]

[1] Matthew Himrod, “First ever online class elections conclude successfully,” The Observer (9/21/2001)

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September 23, 2011

Homecoming - A 90-Year Tradition

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Football, Parades, Queens, and Kings

The first issue of The Case Alumnus in 1921 included this announcement, “Alumni gather round. We old fellows are going to take the Case-Oberlin game on Nov. 12 to our bosoms as being a fitting and appropriate occasion on which to show the Case student body what real pep is, also to show ourselves an all around good time...” [1]

This is the earliest we’ve tracked CWRU’s homecoming traditions (so far - we haven’t exhausted all the sources yet). Over the 90 years of homecoming celebrations there’s been a remarkable continuity of events: fraternity, sorority, and academic department open houses; pep rallies and bonfires; float and car parades, with prizes for the best float; house decoration contests; dances, brunches, luncheons, and receptions; Homecoming Queen contests; and a football game.

But, as is true of most of our longest traditions, there have been some changes.

A football game wasn’t absolutely necessary to celebrate Homecoming. In 2007 soccer was the homecoming game. At Mather College, in the early 1930s, each senior invited an alumna to be her guest at the homecoming party. Cleveland College’s first homecoming was held in February 1929, at the Hotel Cleveland. It featured Sir John Adams, “world-known educator,” as the featured speaker. Some football games were not between varsity teams. CSAS’s 1921 homecoming followed the traditional varsity game with, as described in The Case Alumnus, “a football game of uncertain length, to be played by a short-winded and pot-bellied gang that used to think they could play football for Case... They will have as their opponents this year’s freshman team.” [1]

50 years ago, WRU’s 1961 homecoming budget was $1,288, including $1.00 for the parade permit, $90 for four kegs of beer, and $120 for fireworks and bonfire.

In fall 1967 the newly federated Case Western Reserve University was only a few months old. It took a few years for the Case and WRU programs and traditions to commingle. So the 1967 homecoming press release started, “For the second time in less than two weeks, Case Western Reserve University campus will be the scene of Homecoming festivities...” [2] Case’s homecoming was October 27-28 and WRU’s was November 7-11. Case’s homecoming football game was against Bethany College. Case lost 8-48. WRU’s homecoming football game was against Case. Case lost again, 0-9.

30 years ago our 1981 homecoming included the usual football game, pep rally and bonfire, tailgate party, dance, happy hour, Octoberfest party, post-game reception. Less common was a half-day Financial and Estate Planning Symposium. The symposium must have been popular because it was repeated in 1984.

In the 1990s homecoming added more scholarly components. In 1997 some of Friday’s undergraduate classes were open for alumni to visit. Faculty lectured on topics including, “CWRU’s Humanities Center, Women’s Studies and the Mother of Frankenstein” and “The Information Super Highway and Electronic Learning at CWRU.”

In 2006 a new homecoming tradition began: GospelFest, a concert of gospel music by local musicians, churches, and youth organizations. After her death GospelFest was named for alumna, Congresswoman, and honorary GospelFest chairwoman, Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

The homecoming tradition continues this year on October 13-16.

[1] 20JA 1:1 The Case Alumnus v.1 no.1 (October 1921): 1-2
[2] 4WH 1:1 Homecoming press release, n.d.

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September 15, 2011

After the 9/11 attack: 10 years ago at CWRU

Within hours of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 Interim President James Wagner sent an e-mail message to the campus community regarding the attacks. Classes and social events were suspended for the day but the university remained open. “Universities are places committed to discourse and dialogue over ideological differences, and we abhor violence or terrorism as a means of expression. For the same reasons, we cannot allow violent acts to force the University to abandon this role.”[1]

The university opened Amasa Stone Chapel for quiet reflection; and rooms in Thwing Center, Leutner Commons and Fribley Commons were made available as discussion areas. Counseling services were offered by Cleveland Hillel Foundation, Hallinan Center Newman Catholic Campus Ministries, Muslim Campus Outreach Group, United Protestant Campus Ministries, and University Counseling Services. The university marked the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, held 9/14/2001, in Amasa Chapel.

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2002 Remembrance ceremony

One year later, a remembrance of the 9/11 attacks was held in front of Kelvin Smith Library. CWRU joined the nation in broadcasting Mozart’s Requiem beginning at 8:46 a.m. This was followed by a moment of silence and offer of peace at 9:50 a.m. At noon University Counseling Services sponsored September 11 Then & Now, an open discussion to reflect on personal responses to 9/11. A temporary memorial wall was installed outside Kelvin Smith Library September 1 for members of the university community to record their words, photos, drawings of remembrance. It remained until September 30.

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Section of the 2002 memorial wall


[1] James W. Wagner Statement, 9/11/2001 noon

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September 07, 2011

Student Traditions - Freshman Beanies

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Mather freshman receiving her beanie, 1962; 1940s Adelbert freshmen, in beanies, pulling a wagon-full of upper classmen

A nearly universal event on college campuses, orientation introduces new students to the university. Tours of campus help identify the location of classes, food, and other essentials of student life. Presentations describe university rules and services. Orientation also exposes new students to some of the university’s traditions.

A university that is 185 years old has had plenty of time to develop traditions. Some last; some don’t. One tradition that has gone out of fashion is the freshman cap or beanie. At Case and Western Reserve University during orientation freshmen were presented with their caps. At the WRU men’s college, Adelbert College, freshmen were required to wear their caps at all times while on campus. The sophomore class was charged with enforcing this rule. In the spring the freshmen were formally relieved of their caps and other freshmen burdens at Campus Day.

One of the best archival sources of information about, and pictures of, student traditions are student yearbooks. A sample of the University Archives yearbook collection has been digitized and can be seen in the University Archives Student Yearbook collection in Digital Case.

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September 02, 2011

Registering for Classes

Twenty-first century students would not recognize registration as experienced by their parents and grandparents. Until 1999 registration meant standing in line.

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Students registering for classes in the 1930s and 1970s.

Students met with their adviser or dean to select courses which were recorded on a paper registration form. Students took the completed registration form to the designated registration location (Adelbert Gym and Crawford Hall were often used). Students were assigned registration dates. For example, for Fall 1981 Western Reserve College students with last names ending A-E registered 4/20 and 4/27; F-J registered 4/21 and 4/28; K-O registered 4/22 and 4/29; P-S registered 4/23 and 4/30; T-Z registered 4/24 and 5/1.

Efforts to streamline registration have been continuous. For instance, in 1948 at CIT, mail registration was available for all currently enrolled graduate students. Students completed a registration form sent by the school (along with the roster of classes) and mailed it back to the Registrar. “The student schedule will be mailed back to you and if there is any complication due to conflict, failed courses, etc., you will be notified. Otherwise, all you need to do is to report to the classes as scheduled, beginning the week of September 20.”[1]

By the 1960s both CIT and WRU were using mainframe computers. In 1964 WRU explained, “Heretofore, each one of our students who has enrolled has had to fill out as many as seven different cards for each semester or summer session he attends. This year we tried a new mailing procedure for freshmen in which they had to fill out only one sheet of paper containing twenty-one questions. From these data on that sheet...the data processing unit can then make all the necessary cards and gather all the required information automatically.” [2]

The first on-line registration system (SOLAR - Student On-Line Academic Registration System) was implemented at CWRU for Fall 1999. Students first met with their adviser or dean to select their courses, complete a registration form, and obtain a PIN number. Students had the option to register in-person or online.

Today’s process still requires meeting with the adviser or dean for course selection. However, long lines are a thing of the past.

[1] W. E. Nudd, Registrar to all Graduate students presently attending the Day or Evening Divisions of Case Institute of Technology, 8/1/1948
[2] 4DB1 1:14 William Heston to John Millis, 11/3/1965

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