Alumni Reflect on 50 Years of Changes on Campus

Beryl and Mark Brubaker, two EMU alumni, returned to campus on Saturday for the opening of the art show, The Return.

Beryl and Mark Brubaker, two EMU alumni, returned to campus on Saturday for the opening of the art show, The Return.

EMU has changed quite a bit since Beryl and Mark Brubaker were undergraduates here. Mark came in 1958 and graduated in 1961, majoring in Biology and Chemistry. Beryl came for only two years, from 1960 to 1962. During her time at EMU she decided to pursue nursing, a program EMU shared with Riverside in Newport News, Virginia.

The couple was able to explain much of what is different about EMU now from when they were here as undergraduates. One difference that was mentioned was the nature of sports on campus.

First of all, EMU had only intramural sports in the early sixties, no intercollegiate teams. Women’s basketball, as Beryl could attest to since she played it, was especially different from how it is now. Not only were women not allowed to play in pants, but they could only play on half of the court. Guards would play on the opposing team’s side only, and forwards would play only on their side. Only in men’s basketball could players use the whole court.

Aside from sports, other aspects of student life were very different as well. Chapel was required five times a week, and everyone sat in assigned seats.

There was assigned seating in the cafeteria as well. Once or twice a week, students would receive a slip of paper that told them what number table they were assigned to for the next few days. Six sat at a table, and those would be the people you ate with until assigned a new table.

While this may seem overly structured, for a college with only 500 undergraduates, this allowed everyone to get to know everyone else. You then avoided having to sit by yourself when you did not know many people in the cafeteria, and the people you knew were already sitting with friends.

The food in the cafeteria was served to each individual by student staff rather than placed out buffet style. This allowed for little choice in what to eat meal by meal, since students were all given the same thing and they either ate that or nothing.

There was nothing to self-serve, no places to self-cook, and no tubs of ice cream to tempt students at every meal of the day.

Northlawn, which houses the cafeteria, was one of a handful of buildings around at the time Beryl and Mark attended EMU. Lehman Auditorium and Park Cabin were here too, but the Science Center, Hartzler Library, and Roselawn are a few of the buildings that were not then built.

Male students lived in what is now the Campus Center, and a smaller library was located there as well.

EMU was once a place where women were required to wear dresses and to be at their dorms by 10 p.m., and students had to be chaperoned to off-campus events. “It was more formal,” Beryl explained, and the couple agreed that it was very different, but neither better or worse than it is now, just different.

One interesting tradition the Brubakers shared was throwing newly engaged couples into the fountain.

-Bethannie Parks, Style Editor; photo credit, Ellen Roth

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