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Interpreting The Rules For Penn State’s 1917 Freshman Class

Freshman convocation isn’t much fun and you don’t learn much. While those involved mean well, it seems as if it would be more helpful to randomly assign freshmen to upperclassmen to teach how to behave.

You probably sat through convocation looking for answers only to leave as helpless and green as before. Luckily, some upperclassmen created a how-to guide for the freshmen class of 1917, which can be found in the library’s special collections room.

Believe it or not, it seems like being a freshman in college hasn’t changed much in the last century.

Be forewarned — it’s Shakespearean vocabulary and a century-old sense of humor in the form of an acrostic poem spelling out “O-N-E | N-I-N-E | O-N-E | S-E-V-E-N.” We’ll try to break it down line by line, but when it comes to 1917 English, it’s certainly no F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Oh ye innoxious progeny of superficial foolishness!!!

Oh you harmless decedents of superficial foolishness!

Now hearken to the subjugating propaganda of your

Listen to the overpowering propaganda of your

Efficacious, omnipotent preceptors, exalted

Effective, all-knowing teachers who should be respected

Not only adorn thy vacuous pates with blotches of emerald, but

Not only make your mindless head more attractive with spots of intelligence, but

In unanticipated acceleration, abandon forbidden cuffs and

Stop wearing clothing not worn on campus quickly and

Never indulge in the deleterious narcotic weed in public:

Never smoke weed in public:

Eschew the nugatory, fickle and loquacious, debilitated sex.

Abstain from worthless, unstable, talkative, and feeble sex.

Obey upper-classmen, the viscous fluid is always on tap. At

Obey upperclassmen, punishments come quickly (is this about hazing…?)

No time secularize the verdant sheen of the campus, lest ye

Never change the green luster of the campus, unless you

Eventually court the mode of hair-dressing prevalent at State Pen.

Eventually want the haircut they’ll give you in the State Penitentiary.

Shun diverse receptacles yclept pockets. Procure mittens

Don’t wear pockets and definitely have gloves.

Esteem thyself highly honored to carry trunks to 521 Main.

Be honored to carry an upperclassman’s luggage if they ask you.

Venerate thy “Alma Matter” with thy unostentatious presence at

Sing the Alma Matter with your humble presence at every student gathering

Every mass-meeting. Empty thy suitcase when apples are desired.

Empty your suitcase when the apples are making you hungry. (Author’s note: I’m just as confused as you are.)

Neglect not the aforesaid mandates lest ye subject thy

transcendental unity of perception to the torments of eternal damnation.

Don’t disregard these rules unless you want to spend your spiritual eternity in damnation.

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About the Author

James Turchick

James is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism, James enjoys writing about anything weird and is deadly allergic to bees. Onward State people are very nice to him.


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