A dip into The Duke archives: Sept. 8, 1977

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections

By Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor


Since 1925, The Duquesne Duke has been serving the Duquesne community by reporting on the issues that matter. Thanks to the Gumberg Library Digital Collections, our 90-plus year history is always just a few clicks away. With that in mind, here is the first of many dips back into The Duke’s archives.


It’s Sept. 8, 1977 — 39 years ago — and Duquesne students are mad.

They’re angry at a decision made by the Duquesne University Statute Committee to reduce the student body’s seat on the Academic Council from voting status to observer status. As evidenced by the lengthy news story, a comic and two editorials printed in that Thursday’s edition, this was a divisive issue.

The administration thought voting was “not consequential.” Then-Student Government Association President John Rago had a different view in his guest column, saying the change had “dangerously disrupted our community of scholars by removing the student vote from the council.” The Duke’s staff backed up Rago’s assertions in an editorial, making their view clear that “an immediate change [was] absolutely necessary.”

As the disgruntled students would soon realize, their demands weren’t going to be met. The Academic Council, still going strong today, never saw the return of a voting seat for the student body.

***

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections. In 1977, students were struggling to find parking on campus, a familiar difficulty for students today.

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections. In 1977, students were struggling to find parking on campus, a familiar difficulty for students today.

Flip to the third page to find a problem all too familiar for current Duquesne students — parking. Yes, the conundrum of cramming cars on the Bluff isn’t a new one, and nearly 40 years ago, it was unquestionably a hot button issue.

Back then the complaints came from students whose cars had been towed during a permitless parking week. The university police claimed that cars would only be towed if they were impeding traffic flow. Students claimed that their cars had been towed despite having done no such thing.

The situation was to be solved by the sale of permits for those wanting to park. The most expensive option was $75 (about $300 today). Must’ve been nice, huh?

***

This year’s incoming class of 2020 is potentially the largest in Duquesne’s history. That’s a trend familiar to campus over the past few years, and in the fall of ’77, freshman enrollment was up as well. Unfortunately, that was only part of the story.

After a rise in tuition costs, the total amount of students enrolled for the first day of classes was down a few hundred in headcount. It was a blow to the university at the time, with an approximate $280,000 loss in revenue for Duquesne as a result, but things seem to have bounced back during the ensuing four decades.

***

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections. Sorry, the number doesn’t work anymore.

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections. Sorry, the number doesn’t work anymore.

These days, internships are a rite of passage for any dedicated college student, but back in 1977, there wasn’t as much thought given to the experience-building opportunities. In fact, as evidenced by a letter to the editor by a former graduate, the business school had no internship program at all. My oh my, how things have changed.

***

Living-Learning is a term familiar to every current Duquesne students, but in the fall of 1977, the concept was merely in its experimental stages. Thirty nine years ago, St. Ann Hall’s third floor west wing was the first-ever Duquesne Living-Learning community.

The all-female group took an intro to sociology class together, with the hope that dorm life would serve as its very own social microcosm to study. The group was able to attend class right where they were living, since the course was taught in the wing’s lounge.

While it was only in its first weeks of operation at the time of the Sept. 8 issue, it’s probably safe to assume the experiment went well, seeing as Living-Learning Communities continue to this day.

***

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections. University trivia: the Duquesne football team used to be known as the Grid Iron Dukes.

Courtesy Gumberg Library Digital Collections. University trivia: the Duquesne football team used to be known as the Grid Iron Dukes.

Duquesne student apathy toward campus sports must be a long-running trend. The Duke’s editorial staff felt the need to explain to students that, with the move of the Grid Iron Dukes (trivia: our football team’s former name) to a stadium in South Side, there was no excuse not to attend.

Last March, The Duke’s staff ran an editorial in much the same vein, albeit under different circumstances. Maybe a lack of sports enthusiasm is just a facet of being on the Bluff.

***

“We Deliver To Duquesne,” an advertisement by Oakland Beer Distributing Co. proudly exclaims. Look left and find that Freefall Inc. only charges $45, or about $180 in today’s dollars, for a skydiving lesson. Joe Madia Barber Shop, still a staple for Duquesne students needing some freshening up, tries to drum up some business on page 15.

Ads for bars find themselves a few columns from ads for churches. Texas Instruments has a full-page spread advertising their TI-57 calculator. It doesn’t look too different from what they sell today, and it sure isn’t any cheaper, either. Some things just never change.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!