By AMY BARTHOLOMEW
Individuals who attended BYU 40 years ago remember facts about the university that would surprise most BYU students today. From social clubs to homecoming dances to traffic courts, attending BYU 40 years ago was a social experience many people never wish to forget.
Perhaps the most significant difference between BYU 40 years ago and today is the BYU enrollment. Lydia Peterson, a BYU alumnna who graduated in 1958 remembers attending school with 5,000 other students.
“That makes a big difference. Some of your classes were large but a lot of them were not and you got to know people pretty well,” Peterson said.
Charlene Winters, director for Alumni Marketing and Communications, said that an affinity existed between the students because of the small enrollment. Winters said BYU was full of social clubs and she even wondered how BYU co-eds meet each other today.
BYU students are separated into several wards today, but several years ago students were assigned to large branches.
“They did not have wards when I was there. We had branches, huge branches,” Peterson said.
Dances at BYU were popular and the social dynamics were also different than they are today. Peterson remembered going to the Homecoming Dances each year. “You wouldn’t miss the Homecoming Dance. They were a lot of fun, but no girl ever asked a boy. You did not do that then,” she said.
Doing well academically was a concern at BYU. But like today, students still found time to be with friends and attend athletic events.
“I really liked the social life and I was really active in attending all the basketball games and football games. I really learned to balance everything,” Peterson said.
Social clubs were very common at BYU .
Chye Teh, a BYU alumnus who attended BYU from 1967 to 1971 remembered joining a photography club. Teh remembered taking a lot of pictures and then developing them.
“I spent a lot of time in the dark room developing pictures. I took a lot of slides of people and scenery,” he said.
Teh enjoyed the photography club but wishes he had taken a more active roll in other social events.
“Looking back on it, I feel like I missed out on a lot of the social life,” Teh said.
Social clubs were often separated into clubs for men and clubs for women. Peterson remembers a club for women called the White Key Club. The White Key Club was an honorary service unit that produced the White Key directory of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all the students at the university. In addition to taking part in a number of service projects, the White Key club presented a trophy to the social club with the highest grade point average each quarter, Peterson said.
The Val Hyric Club was a club for men on campus that participated in leadership and social activities, Peterson said. The club drew its name from Norse mythology. As a part of its social activities, the Val Hyric Club participated in a campus contest known as the snow carnival sculptery. Different groups on campus would carve images out of the snow and the most creative snow creation won. In 1958, The Val Hyric Club won second place in the contest. The Club also voted in a Miss Val Hyric Sweetheart every year.
Many clubs were open to any students, as long as they were interested in joining them. Ruth Teh, a BYU alumna who received her bachelor’s degree in 1965 and her master’s degree in 1970, remembers joining the Samoan Club. Members of this club would make themselves available to wards who were interested in entertainment, Ruth said.
“We would go up and dance and sing in our costumes,” she said.
The Samoan Club usually performed in the cultural hall on Friday or Saturday nights. Ruth explained that anyone could join the club. Many Caucasians would come and try to learn the dances, she said.
Clubs on campus even included a club that allowed students to issue complaints about traffic tickets they had received on campus. Known as the Traffic Court, this group consisted of three men who were available to make rulings. This court helped alleviate negative feelings which existed between students and the university security office.