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October 21, 1987 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

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the review helped foster the careers of Wil-
liam Faulkner, Allen Tate, Andrew Lytle
and Robert Penn Warren.
Legends, too, abound. There is a semi-
official reverence for dogs-which are said
to be reincarnated professors. All canine
pets have run of the campus and, according
to student-activities director Chris Asmus-
sen, "People do talk to the dogs, and the
dogs have a lot to say." Ghosts are also said
to roam the campus. A favorite is the head-
less gownsman, reputedly a seminary stu-
dent who studied so hard his head fell off.
Sewanee, owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses
in 12 Southern states, is predominantly
Wasp: 84 percent of the students hail from
the South, about half are Episcopalians
and almost all are white. (Twenty blacks
are enrolled this fall, compared with two in
1981.) Women make up 48 percent of the
undergraduate body of 1,050. Although the
college is by no means the most expensive
in, the South, and about half its students
receive financial aid, Sewanee has long had
a reputation for social elitism. Many stu-
dents come from well-to-do homes; it is not
unknown for a student with a broken leg to
have a golf cart sent up from home.
Given Sewanee's relative isolation-60
miles from Chattanooga and 80 from Nash-
ville-it's perhaps not surprising that
more than 60 percent of the students seek
companionship in fraternities and soror-
ities. Greeks dominate the social scene and
"road tripping," in which pledges dump an
active miles away with neither money nor
transportation, is a common response to

Signal of good grades: Order of Gownsmen
hazing. Recently one fraternity active was
badly hurt when he jumped from a moving
car. The pledges then promised him a ride
back to campus, only to tie him up and
dump him in a stagnant lake. The student
survived. The pledges did not: their frater-
nity kicked them out and the discipline
committee expelled them from school.
Drinking is another unofficial Sewanee
tradition. Though use of fake ID's is consid-
ered a violation of the honor
code, underage drinking is
not, in fact, it is widely accept-
- 4 ed. "Drinking is against the
. . -law," concedes Michael Hoath,
a senior economics and religion
major who is on the discipline
committee. "So is speeding."
On any of three annual festival
weekends, beer flows from
- morning till night, and stu-
dents can be found downing
pitchers every evening at their
favorite dive, Shennanigans.
Things were worse before ready
transportation made mountain
life less isolated and before
women were first admitted to
the university in 1969. Admin-
istrators insist that a sober
monitor be present at all func-
tions where liquor is served to
steer the inebriated to a nearby
van for a ride home.
There are alternatives to the
hearty party scene, including a
high degree of volunteerism
F THE SOUTH among the students, but their
ature social consciousness may not be
matched by the administra-

tion. The university has been
criticized for not alleviating
segregation in the town. Most
black residents (170 in a town of
2,300, according to the 1980
Census) work for the universi-
ty, but nearly all live in one
of two areas where housing is
far below the community aver-
age. Senior Bobo recently sat
embarrassed on a plane as
the woman with whom she
had struck up a conversation
drawled, "Sewanee. Oh, yes,
that's the school with its
own indigenous servant class."
Wardell Vance, one of six
blacks who graduated last
spring, agrees: "Sewanee is like
a country club, and every coun-
try club needs to have ser-
vants." Vance says, however,
that he was drawn to Sewanee
by academics, and "that's what
OF THE SOUTH kept me here."
member Historically, the school's
president is also automatically
mayor of the town of Sewanee. The current
president, Robert Ayres Jr., claims that he,
too, is concerned about "the less fortunate"
in the community and observes that "we
can do more to help them," but little ap-
pears to have changed over a long period.
Ayres has increased Sewanee's endow-
ment from $20 million to $90 million in the
last 10 years largely through aggressive
fund raising. Funds are yet being sought to
complete a "master campus plan" that
calls for new dining and athletic facilities,
new dorms, improved lighting, a fine-arts
center and an expanded curriculum.
Noncareerist attitude: It is doubtful that
Sewanee will ever have difficulty recruit-
ing faculty. Students and professors (about
110, all of whom teach) enjoy remarkably
close interaction on this campus. "You get
to socialize with your professors," explains
junior English and religion major Brian
Jackson, who, like several dozen Sewanee
students, lives in a professor's home.
This closeness has helped to produce
an unusually noncareerist attitude to-
ward education among Sewanee students.
Though they seem confident they can find
jobs, as senior English major Lynne Cald-
well puts it, "It is an offense, almost, when
people ask you what you are going to do
when you get out." Students come to
Sewanee, she says, "for knowledge's sake."
George Core, editor of the Sewanee Review,
has observed that "a fair number of stu-
dents who come out of this university learn
to think for themselves. And this should be
the end of education. I don't know the pre-
cise chemistry that causes it to happen at
Sewanee, but it does happen."

tudent verger leads convocation procession, n
!earns safe rappelling



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