The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Class of 1967 reflects on college years

A page from the 1967 yearbook highlights the unrest of the decade. Photo credit: The Rotunda
A page from the 1967 yearbook highlights the unrest of the decade. Photo credit: The Rotunda

The 1960s are defined by marches, protests and war for many Americans. While the assassination of President Kennedy, the American Civil Rights movement and the looming Vietnam War impacted students at Southern Methodist University, alumni from those years say their daily concerns in college often centered around socials, classes and homework.

“You learned a lot, you met a lot of great friends, you felt very safe. It was just a wonderful time in everyone’s life,” said Suzy Groth Rhodes, a member of the class of 1967 and co-chair for the reunion.

Rhodes has lived in Dallas her whole life and looks forward to reconnecting with classmates and remembering the good times they shared.

The SMU Class of 1967 will celebrate its 50-year reunion May 19-20 in Dallas, giving old classmates the opportunity to reconnect and reminisce about years past. Alumni from all over the country are invited to celebrate their degrees and the memories they shared while earning them.

Former class president Yerger Hill said his experience as a student was made better by his close relationships with peers and professors. As a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, he studied at SMU before attending law school at the University of Texas at Austin.

“SMU provided a unique atmosphere for me to compete, be evaluated by fellow students and faculty, and feel good about my accomplishments, whether great or small,” Hill said in an email interview.

While many of the things alumni said they loved about SMU have remained the same, the school has changed over the last 50 years in many noticeable ways.

Changes have been made to increase diversity and reduce discrimination. Dorothy Botnick is a graduate of the class of 1967 and former SMU employee who worked in development. She said that as a woman in college in the ‘60s, she faced certain expectations and prejudices, especially concerning her career.

“When there were job fairs and companies came to interview, nobody bothered to interview me,” Botnick said of the preference employers showed to men at the time.

Rhodes, like Botnick, said her gender defined much of her college experience. At the time, women were expected to have a domestic life. Although Rhodes did not go to college simply to find a husband, her father wanted her to study to be a teacher as a backup plan in case something were to happen to her spouse.

“We weren’t expected to have a career,” Rhodes said. “We were expected to get married and have children and raise the kids, so then your husband works.”

A page from the 1967 yearbook highlights the unrest of the decade. Photo credit: The Rotunda

Like today, the ’60s were a time of political turbulence. However, some alumni said today’s environment is even more controversial. Hill said he has never seen such a clash between beliefs before.

“We were political at SMU, but not boisterous and obnoxious,” Hill said.

Caroline Brettell, a professor of anthropology at SMU, was a member of the Yale University class of 1967. She said that it was an exciting time to be a student because there was so much rapid change.

“It was a time of heightened and heated discourse. In the dining halls, people were always talking politics with peers and professors. We were all very active,” Brettell said of her college years.

Botnick said that in her time at SMU, nearly everyone was white, but she is proud to see the diversity the school has drawn.

“The student body is incredibly more diverse today. There may have been one black girl in my dorm,” Botnick said. “It’s so much more interesting now.”

The registrar’s office does not have any records of the diversity on campus from the ‘60s. However, the lack of diversity is evident when flipping through a copy of the Rotunda yearbook from 1967.

Botnick, a former resident of Mary Hay Commons, said she has seen several changes on campus as well. She said the campus has developed, from new building projects to the growth of the trees that line Bishop Boulevard. She has also seen a more relaxed culture on campus with the co-ed dorms and casual clothing worn to classes.

A page from the 1967 Rotunda yearbook emphasizes the amount of construction on campus, even in the 60s. Photo credit: The Rotunda

When the class of ‘67 was in school, students were required to live in the dorms for all four years and adhere to a curfew.

“Your date was really in trouble if he didn’t get you in by curfew,” Rhodes said.

Today, 11 Residential Commons on SMU’s campus provide co-ed accommodations. Students are required to live on campus for only two years. They can also opt to live in on-campus upperclassman or Greek housing during their time at SMU.

Rhodes said she enjoyed the friendships she found in the dorms after the dates ended.

“You would come in and everyone would talk about their dates and what they did,” Rhodes said. “You would kind of have another party after your date.”

The 50th reunion will be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the changes and reminisce on the past while reconnecting with old friends, alumni said.

“I guess whatever era you grow up in it’s fun, because it’s your time,” Rhodes said.

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