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From the President

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"O Week reorientation"

As I was about to get rid of the October/00 issue of the Magazine, I happened to glance through it and found that most unusual occurrence, an error of fact! On page 30, you state that Orientation "began in 1934." My own experience with Orientation Week took place in 1932, two years earlier.

I arrived via an overnight train coach ride, a callow 16-year-old from Omaha, on the morning of Sunday, October 2, 1932. I was met by family friends who took me to their apartment in the south 70s. That evening, I was taken to Burton Court, where I lived for the next seven years in 619A. Burton-Judson was only one year old at the time. The appointments dazzled this hobbledehoy.

There are only a few happenings of Orientation Week itself that I recall. Of course I remember President Hutchins's welcoming speech. He told us, among other things, that he assumed we had been properly brought up and that the University would not act in loco parentis. He also confirmed the fact that we were not required to attend class but reminded us that we were paying the princely sum of $200 a year in tuition and should not be wasting it.

For the next half-dozen years the basic cost of tuition, board and room, books, and fees amounted to about $900 per year. This was about one-third of my family's annual income, but I was able to supplement it working two-and-a-half hours a day in the kitchen: at 42.5 cents an hour to pay my board of 92 cents a day. I also washed glassware for a graduate student in chemistry under the National Youth Administration at the same rate.

Back to Orientation: I was highly amused to find that the assistant bursar and bursar were named Cotton and Mather. I had no problems getting the classes for which I was advised to register. However, I never did see the upper-year person who was supposed to guide me that week. I remember writing to him before coming to Chicago and particularly asking about Blackfriars. He modestly replied that he, a Deke, had played the lead for three years. It turns out that I did, eventually, as a graduate student, write the book for two shows. For years I thought that I bore a large share of the guilt for Blackfriars' demise. Only during the last several years have I been reassured by William H. McNeill's memoir, Hutchins' University, in which he attributes it to World War II.

Isadore Richlin, SB'35, PhD'41
Culver City, California

  JUNE 2001

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Children's Crusader
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Life begins at 33.8
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