Revisiting Vietnam's legacy at Case Western Reserve
Issue date: 3/5/10 Section: Opinion
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When I entered CWRU as a freshman at age 17 in 1968, the university had been merged in name, but not in culture. Men were assigned to Adelbert College - Clarke Tower; Pierce, Storrs, Cutler, and Hitchcock houses. We ate in Leutner Commons.
Women were assigned to Mather College - Taft, Tyler, Sherman, Raymond, Smith, and Norton houses. "Mather girls" ate at Wade Commons.
Students at the Case Institute of Technology lived in the Case Quad (now called the "South Residential Village"). There were very few women among them. Commuting students lived at home with their parents, and they were enrolled in Cleveland College.
We Adelbert freshmen thought this organizational plan insane. Did CWRU think there were four sexes? CWRU had been created only the year before, 1967, from two venerable Ohio institutions, Western Reserve University and the Case Institute of Technology, located adjacent to each other for the prior 87 years.
During our freshman year, within 10 days of our 18th birthdays, we were directed to report to Adelbert Main (now called Adelbert Hall) to receive our draft cards.
Computers were rare in 1968. Wars weren't fought on the scale they are today. The "latest" military invention was the M-16 rifle. The U.S. government's official plan for men our age involved us going to Vietnam to personally kill North Vietnamese men.
Debates took place long into the night at Adelbert College. What was worse - dying before living adult life or killing Vietnamese men on bicycles who posed no direct threat to our country at all?
Can an entire college have a depression? It seemed like ours did. Adelbert College was designed to prepare us to serve the nation as lawyers and doctors. The vast majority of us were pre-law or pre-med. Mather College had its own depression. In 1968, most women didn't go to college with the expectation of graduate or professional schooling. Like it or not, a "Mather girl" was said to be studying for her "Mrs. Degree."