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Ramblins: Hall handed down stiff penalty for senior
By Pat Edwards
Ramblin' Reck Club
Coming back to Tech after
the holidays, with their gifts, food and celebrations, is never easy for
One year, an early return
date for Tech students resulted in a conflict between an entire
graduating class and the highest ranking administrator on campus.
Dr. Lyman Hall, Tech's
second president, had been a member of the Tech faculty from its
founding day. He had been the head of the Mathematics Department.
Hall was elected on January
3, 1896, to the position of Chairman of the Faculty. This position
included the authority of the office of president, until July 1896, when
the board of trustees officially elected him to the office of president.
He received an annual salary of $3,000.
The old Lyman Hall Chemistry
Laboratories, now housing the Bursar's Office, was named for President
Dr. Hall was, at thirty-six,
the youngest president in Tech history. He had graduated from West Point
and rose in the military to the rank of Captain. He was a well-spoken
man with an iron will, well-known as a fierce disciplinarian.
During President Hall's
administration, the students followed rules that would seem draconian
Students were only allowed
to leave campus without permission to go to athletic fields or to walk
along North Avenue. Even then, they could only walk between Plum and
West Peachtree Streets during daylight hours.
Students could be expelled
from the dormitories, or Tech itself, for infractions such as being
caught with playing cards, liquor, or firearms. Oddly, the possession of
a firearm, which provisions required should be deposited with the
professor-in-charge, was punishable with expulsion from the dorms, while
lying about one's whereabouts off campus resulted in expulsion from
Hall's administration was
also renowned for massive efforts in construction and hiring of faculty
and officials. During his administration, the institute gained expanded
dormitories, additions to existing shop buildings, foundries, and
experimental electrical and chemical laboratories. Hall also established
the departments of Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and
President Hall's legacy to
Tech rests in the prodigious building of facilities and instructional
talent that brought Tech from a small southern trade school to the
beginnings of her proud reputation as a respected research institute.
But, in 1900-1901, he was famous, or infamous, for a more controversial
President Hall set the
return date for students to be back at Tech in 1901 for January 1.
The entire Senior Class met
together and decided that this date was unfairly early. Further, the
class decided that they would act in unison to protest and thwart this
schedule. The senior class would not return to campus until January 2,
The students, confident that
President Hall would not act against the class acting as a whole,
returned to campus triumphantly, only to be met by the president
directing them to return home.
Hall, who was so dedicated
that he worked on Christmas Day, indicated to the students and their
parents in a letter that the students were suspended from Tech and would
only be readmitted on three conditions. These conditions were that they
remain suspended until February 2, 1901, petition the president in
person on that date, and promise to obey all of Tech's rules of conduct.
Also, the students would have their diplomas held until November 2,
1901, giving them the time to complete their regular attendance
This resulted in a rancorous
fight that involved the administration, the students, their parents,
and even the State Legislature.
The feud culminated in a
faculty meeting on January 23, 1901, where four parents addressed the
faculty, hoping to have the punishment commuted to a more lenient one.
The faculty, seeking to preserve the integrity of the institute, sided
with the president. The punishment stood.
Seventeen of the eighteen
members of the Class of '01 returned to Tech and received their
diplomas at a ceremony held at the President's office on November 2.
In years to come, these men
would retain pride in their character as the "Rebellious Class of '01."
Indeed, there exists a photograph of the remaining class members posing
at their 25th reunion with their nickname chalked on the steps where
President Lyman Hall, who
will always be remembered as a powerful and constructive force in the
maturing of Tech into the finest research institute in the South, may
also be remembered as a prototype Shaft for all future faculty and
administrators. Meanwhile, the Insubordinate Class of '01 will also be
remembered for their unity and class spirit that shook the foundations
of an austere administration. Together, they remind us of the character
of the repartee that defines the relationship between students, faculty,
and administration at Georgia Tech.
Copyright © 1998 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor and by the Student
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