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(Caption title) Circular
David L. Swain, President
[Chapel Hill?, N.C.]
Call number VCp378 UC (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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SIR: The retired situation of the University, though eminently favorable to good morals and habits of industry, in most respects, has connected with it some evils. We feel the want of a society immediately around us whose opinions might exert a controlling influence over those of the Students. We need those checks and restraints of public sentiment, which are felt and acknowledged even by men of mature age. The Institution has several times since its establishment, been thrown, by the most trivial causes into a ferment, which it has been found difficult to allay, because reason for a time lost its control over the minds of the young men.--On such occasions, the most absurd and extravagant opinions on principles of justice, morality and good breeding, are advanced and advocated, with the ardour of thorough conviction, and the confidence usually reposed in the judgment and kind feelings of the Faculty, if not entirely destroyed, is greatly impaired.
When a Student has been engaged in the advocacy of absurd and pernicious principles, he is too apt to conform his practice to his opinions, and if he is not dismissed from College in consequence, his moral, and social character sustains permanent injury. In the mean time, a serious inroad is made upon the improvement of the great body of the Students. The sentiment becomes current, that the breaking of a Tutor's window, or the commission of an indictable trespass upon a recitation room, is not a disreputable action. Such events become the principal topics of conversation, and literature and science cease to be pursued with the zeal and diligence necessary to success. Every Parent, therefore, who has a son at the University, has a deep interest in seeing such practices put down. They are not likely to occur more than once or twice in the course of a year, but their effects are sometimes lasting.
These evils ordinarily grow out of a Senior or a Freshman treat, the organization of an Ugly Club, or some similar association. If the Faculty adopt the necessary measures to prevent or punish the commission of such offences, their proceedings are denounced as acts of high-handed tyranny; the enemies of good order and diligent study, more forward and vociferous than their more worthy associates, carry with them too many of those whose virtuous principles are not well established. If the rule laid down in relation to these offences, is faithfully enforced, and punishment inflicted for each violation, public opinion, from which College censures derive all their force and weight--uninformed in regard to the magnitude of the evil--and unmindful of the wide difference between a convivial meeting of men of mature minds and an assemblage of fifty or a hundred persons, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, is too apt to decide against the Faculty as unnecessarily rigorous and severe.
This Institution has just been visited by one of these paroxysms of unnatural excitement. Certain members of the higher Classes deceived the Freshmen into the belief, that it had been customary from the foundation of the Institution, for that Class, at an early period of the first session of the Collegiate year, to give a treat to the other Classes. A subscription of $2 each was thus obtained from about thirty-five members of the Class. Wine and ardent spirits were procured from Hillsborough, and on Saturday night, (the 29th ult.) the interval between dark and nine o'clock, when they were not required by the laws of the College to be in their rooms was appropriated to a celebration of this Festival in the woods.
Not more than a third of the individuals who subscribed, are believed to have attended the treat. Much the larger proportion of those who were present, were members of the older Classes. Of the participants, some drank freely, and a small number to intoxication. The result was a series of disorders which were continued through the greater part of the night. The doors of three of the Recitation Rooms were forced in and much battered, and gross indignities were offered to the Faculty when they interfered for the restoration of order. It is due, however, to the great body of the Students to state, that not more than ten or twelve individuals are believed to have been engaged in these disgraceful proceedings.
In the peculiar circumstances incident to their local position, the Faculty have determined to invoke to their aid, the solicitude and affection of the parental bosom. They entertain the confident hope, that you will concur with them in the opinion, that the suppression of all assemblages of this character, is of vital importance to the Institution, and that you will co-operate heartily with them in their efforts to effect it. This can be accomplished, only by visiting every case of private and public intoxication with the severest penalties, and the adoption of such measures as shall put an end to all attempts at College Treats.
Since the action of the Trustees on this subject, in every instance where a Student has been found publicly intoxicated, or having ardent spirits in his worn, he has been removed from the Institution.
The last Senior Class was distinguished, not less for general propriety of deportment than for talents and scholarship. The individuals constituting it were earnestly intreated to abstain from the irregularities too frequently consequent, upon the annunciation of the Senior Report, and were distinctly notified, that no one who should attend a Senior treat would be recommended for a degree. The desired effect was produced, and the Faculty are determined to act upon this principle in all cases hereafter.
Not less decisive measures will be adopted to prevent the excesses sometimes committed at the commencement of the Collegiate year, by the Ugly Club.
If the determination of the Faculty on these subjects, should meet, as we trust it will, with your concurrence, we hope you will say so to your son, in decided terms.
By order of the Faculty,
DAVID L. SWAIN,
At a meeting of Trustees of the University of North-Carolina, convened at Hillsborough, on Monday, 14th September: Present Hon. John L. Bailey, William A. Graham, Esq. Hon. Willie P. Mangum, James Mebane, Esq. Hon. Frederic Nash, Hon. James S. Smith, Hugh Waddell, Esq. and Doct. James Webb--The Hon. Frederic Nash in the Chair,
The foregoing communication from the Faculty of the University, to the Parents and Guardians of Students in that Institution having been read and considered, it was, on motion of William A. Graham, Esquire,
Resolved, unanimously, That the views expressed therein with respect to College Treats, the Ugly Club, and similar associations, and the determination of the Faculty to suppress such evils in future, are fully approved and sanctioned by this meeting, and that the Faculty be advised and instructed to carry them into full and vigorous execution,
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SEPTEMBER 30th, 1840.
Since the 17th day of July, a period of ten weeks, your son [blank space] has been absent from prayers [blank space] from recitation [blank space] times, and from attendance on Divine worship [blank space] times.
The number of Students at present in the University is 171. Of these, [blank space] have not been once absent from prayers; [blank space] have not been once absent from recitation.
His relative gradation of scholarship in his class is considered [blank space] .