Parietals Then and Now

As a Columbia University undergraduate in 1956, I resided in Hartley Hall, a stately building on the Morningside campus. During my orientation week I was introduced to my floor counselor who said in an unambiguous way that hijinks would not be permitted on his watch. He highlighted one rule which could never be disobeyed: women were not permitted in what was then an all-male dorm unless it was during designated hours on the weekend. When visitation was allowed, women had to sign in and a book had to keep one's dorm room door open. Closed doors were considered a violation of the dormitory deportment code and subject to penalty. Of course a few clever students used matchbooks as a door wedge, but they were the exception.

While there were those who balked at the rules and occasionally adolescent men were rowdy—I readily admit to infractions—there was not any doubt about the university's expectation. In fact, the freshmen student guide said Columbia is a place where the "whole man" is developed—including mind and character. In those days character development was taken seriously.

When I played on the basketball team, my coach, Lou Rossini, insisted that we wear ties and jackets when traveling to other schools. On one occasion when we played against the University of Maine and temperatures plummeted to minus ten degrees on the streets of Bangor, I wore a turtleneck and a blazer. Rossini, noticing...

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