‘Movie Mania,’ and Other 1921 Warnings for Incoming Michigan Freshmen
Of all the things I was warned about headed into college, "Movies" weren't even CLOSE to the top of the list. But in 1921, "Movie Mania" was apparently running so rampant at the University of Michigan, that current students were warning incoming freshmen about it.
It's all documented in an open letter called "Advice to Freshmen by Freshmen" from the U of M campus in 1921.
At just 109 pages, the "Advice to Freshmen by Freshmen" was a culmination of stories, and warnings from current students at Michigan, that incoming freshmen might need to know about. Then-University President Marion LeRoy Burton warned students in an open letter...
"You are no longer a high school boy or girl. You are a college man or woman. This University is a place of freedom... But do not forget, I beg of you, that independence and freedom do not mean anarchy and license. I should like to advise every Freshman to read this little book carefully."
Strong words, backed up by the little book of stories that warned incoming students of things they should avoid, and things not to forget to become the most productive student possible. And that includes which temptations to avoid.
One student wrote...
"You will probably hear about the 'student stills.' Please remember that it is not necessary to be 'stewed' to be a 'stude.' If you have heard, resist the temptation."
Keep in mind, this was the beginning of the Roaring 20s, and Prohibition was in full effect. So ANY alcohol in or around campus was illegal. But even now, we get that warning about too much alcohol in college settings.
It also covers the distractions of co-eds (boys/girls) from your studies, and - probably the best sign of the times in this book - "the idea that a young man has to 'sow his wild oats.'" All pretty standard stuff.
But then, you get this gem...
"... a very dangerous disease in a college town is the movie mania. The movies have been the ruination of many a good student."
MOVIES? They were worried about MOVIES!?!?! That seems more like an issue NOW than it would have been in the 1920s. To have movies take over your life in the 1920s, you would have to practically live at a movie theater. Movies cost money, and we all know college kids are broke as it is.
Another warning is spending all your time in a pool hall. The student who wrote this passage said, it's fine to play a game once in a while, "But don't make it a habit to go to a billiard parlor when there is nothing else to do."
Sorry Skippy, but in 1921, if I'm bored, I'm headed to the movies, or I guess... a pool hall, DESPITE what the Music Man taught me about the "Trouble" it brings.
Obviously, some of this stuff is outdated, but if you are thinking about going to college, or know someone headed there, the "Advice to Freshmen from Freshmen" is kind of an interesting insight into what was required of students more than 100 years ago, compared to now.
And I'd say we have it pretty good.