The University's athletic programs, which included football, baseball, basketball (all spelled as two words back then), track, and tennis, were also burgeoning. Some alumni attacked the football program for its weak schedule, but the team posted an 8-3 record and was called the best yet in the program's short history. The SU Navy was established for rowing enthusiasts, golf was gathering followers, and fencing was introduced. "The fact that the women have donned their gymnasium suits and enjoy making vicious thrusts at each other as keenly as the men do is an extremely convincing proof that the sport is popular," the Forum noted.|
Along with freshmen, women met an enormous amount of scrutiny. They rarely attended events without chaperons. And while many viewed their presence as adding a touch of civility to campus life, they were often made scapegoats when men turned rambunctious at social functions. In those days, everyone roomed off-campus, but concern for women's living arrangements probably prompted the University to open Winchell Hall, the first campus dormitory, for women in 1900. In an effort to bring women together, the University's Women's League was created in 1898. According to the handbook, the league's purpose was to "make the women of the different colleges acquainted with each other, to bring the women students into contact with the faculty, and to aid in every way possible the women of the entering class." School of Education doctoral student Denise Deppoliti '71, G'77, who researched the Women's League as part of her graduate work, says it eventually encompassed everything from sports and living regulations for women to the suffrage and temperance movements. "The league was an umbrella organization for all women's activities," Deppoliti says. "In fact, unless they belonged to the league, they weren't able to participate in activities."
One recreational outlet for women on campus was basketball. This photo of the women's basketball team appeared in the 1899 Onondagan.
Women were encouraged to join the local chapter of the Young Women's College Settlement at the Christadora Home in New York City. "Within the past year, substantial contributions of clothing, books, papers, etc., and money have been forwarded to the Home," the handbook says. "Delegates from this chapter visit the Home at different times during the college year. Thus the chapter is kept informed of the needs of those for whose welfare it is working."
Such service reflected the strong presence of Christian fellowship on the Methodist-endowed campus. Students were expected to attend chapel daily and were encouraged to affiliate themselves with a local church. "Students make a serious mistake in roaming about from church to church and settling nowhere," the handbook warns. "Such attendance is not conducive to the most stable Christian character." The YMCA and YWCA offered Bible study and prayer meetings and supported "two of the famine orphans of India," according to the handbook. For those considering missionary work, there was the nine-year-old Student Volunteer Band, which was part of a worldwide movement that sent missionaries to South Africa, China, Australia, India, and Japan.
James Roscoe Day, an influential Methodist minister, became the University's fourth Chancellor in 1894 and guided SU for 28 years.
The University was home to numerous social and academic organizationsfraternities and sororities; literary societies (whose lively "lits" were known to be boisterous gatherings) such as the James Russell Lowell Literary Society and the Hawthorne; the Classical, Philosophical, and Science clubs; the Press Club; the Symphony Orchestra; and the Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin clubs.
That October, the University Roosevelt Club marched downtown to the Yates Hotel to madly cheer for Spanish-American War hero and soon-to-be governor Teddy Roosevelt, who was celebrating his 40th birthday. According to the Forum, the Rough Rider, slouch hat atop head, stepped to a window and responded: "It wouldn't take much of that kind of noise to make me dead sure there are some among you who play football and there were a lot of football men with me in Cuba. They were splendid soldiers. The kind of spirit they showed tells. It shows manliness and courage. I want to say, too, that I like to see university men, college men, take an interest in politics, and hence I like to see you here."
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