The evolving student handbook
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Some would say that the rules at Westmont are strict for students on campus, but what was it like to abide by a student handbook written in the 1980s? How about the 1960s, or even the 1940s? From having chaperones on road trips to asking permission to work on homework after midnight, Westmont’s guidelines in the student handbook have come a long way in the past 75 years.
Way before the student handbook became a downloadable PDF, the rules for closed hours were only some of the many strict regulations in the handbook, especially for women. Although it may seem shocking for current students, women were under harsher rules put in place in the handbook—apparently for the sake of their safety.
Women in the 1940s were required to sign out when leaving the dorms. If the woman was to leave after 6 p.m., she had to ask permission from the Dean of Women. Men, however, were only encouraged to tell someone where they were going if they were to leave campus, for emergency reasons.
Women were also not allowed to enter men’s rooms unless they had permission from the Dean of Women or another authority figure. First-year women in the 1950s were required to be back in their rooms by 7:15 p.m., and if women came back to the dorms after curfew, their minutes were counted up against them.
In the 1960s, if women exceeded a certain amount of late minutes, they were not allowed to leave campus for the weekend and were not allowed to talk to, call or interact with male students. For women in the ’60s, being grounded was taken to an extreme.
There were many regulations put on students for residence life, as well. From the 1950s until the 1970s, students were expected to maintain a certain level of cleanliness. Every morning by 10:00 a.m., students were expected to have tidy rooms that could go through a daily check. The 1950s handbook states, “Remember, ‘cleanliness is a part of godliness!’”
As well as keeping clean rooms, students also had to submit to a “lights-out check.”
In the 1940s, if students wanted to spend the evening completing an assignment instead of going to bed, they had to be approved by the House Mother. Students in the ’40s only had a certain number of late nights they were permitted to take per semester.
In the 1940s and 1950s, there were rules about having chaperones accompany students on campus or on drives. Chaperones had to be present when couples and mixed groups were traveling in a car, during various parties or events being held on campus or even if a group of women were traveling in a car together.
At one point, there were even regulations put on students’ appearances. If there was ever any doubt in the 1940s, a woman could contact the Dean of Women to ask about her attire, to ensure that it was “Westmont-appropriate.”
In the 1960s, beards were not permitted unless they were trimmed and maintained. Men were also not permitted to have beards if they represented Westmont in any shape or form.
Today, beards are encouraged and thought of as hipster and trendy. Some men sections in a few dorms even have competitions to see who can grow the best beard during No-Shave-November.
As the student handbook guidelines have evolved since the beginning of Westmont, so has the slang, like “Westmont Wow.” A Westmont Wow did not mean the first person that “wowed” you at Westmont back in the 1960s—they were “Wives Of Westmont Students,” with their own club on campus. The club was made of up women who were married and attending Westmont. They gathered to talk about going to school and keeping a happy marriage at the same time.
Speaking of weddings and marriage, if a student wanted to get married while at Westmont, they would have had to get their parents’ permission, as well as the school’s approval before a wedding could occur.
Ever wondered why everyone is so friendly on campus? There are actual roots to this Westmont trend that differ from most other universities and colleges.
According to the handbook that was published in 1960-1961, “If you start right by saying ‘Hi’ to everyone you meet around campus, soon the faces and names will begin fitting together.” This was Westmont’s way of encouraging students to interact more with one another and make friends.
In the 1940s, students were even required to attend chapel every day of the week, with the exception of one semester, when students could only miss five chapels total.
Over time, those rules became more relaxed and today’s rules stem from the 1980s handbook, with chapel three times a week with 12 misses per semester.
The student handbook is not written in stone and is always evolving with the current times. Each generation faces different issues and objections to the expectations of the student handbook. So as society changes, it is inevitable that the handbook will also change. The handbook in the next decade will not be the same as the handbook today.
Illustration by Brandon Daniels