As you may have heard, Mizzou is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. It made me think about all the different aspects of being a student and what daily life might have been like for those first students so long ago. What did they do outside of attending class? In which social events did they participate? Were they as busy as the undergraduates of today who work and participate in extracurricular activities?
One thing that we, the students of the twenty-first century, have in common with our nineteenth-century forebears is being a member of a club or team. Student involvement is common among Mizzou students of all levels, from first year undergrads to PhD students. According to the Organization Resource Group (ORG), the campus office that assists student organizations with their administrative needs, there are over 750 recognized student organizations at MU.
Our latest exhibition in the Traditions Lounge, Student Organizations: Life Outside the Classroom, highlights the long history of student organizations on our campus. From the Athenaeans, a literary society formed in 1841, to the Mizzou Quidditch team members, who play a sport developed from the Harry Potter novels, Mizzou students participate in an eclectic array of organizations that engage their talents, help them develop new interests, and add a little fun to college life. Below are just a few of those organizations that inhabited the halls of Mizzou.
Clubs at MU have ranged from serious to silly. The early 1900s, for example, saw the founding of such clubs as the Pirate Crew and the Zoo Club, that latter of which nick-named their members after wild animals and claimed Rudyard Kipling as an honorary member.
Founded in 1912, The Pirate Crew, a social club, lived by the purpose “To capture the priceless treasures—good fellowship, fidelity and fraternal unity” (Savitar 1918).
Music-making occupies the time of many Mizzou students, whether for fun or as an academic pursuit. Many MU musicians have become recognized for their extraordinary talents which were fostered during their college years in musical ensembles like the Men’s Glee Club and the Singsations.
The Savitar of 1896 features the University Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin Club, lauding it “unique and variegated.” In the 1900s, the club split into a more traditional Glee Club and a separate Mandolin Club (Savitar 1896).
Some students with the same major gather together, creating clubs that celebrate and support their as their academic program.
The Forestry Society, founded in 1912, limited its membership to only those students enrolled in the Department of Forestry. The above photo features four students embarking on their first Forestry class (Savitar 1912).
Sports bring together many MU students in pursuit of physical fitness and friendship.
Students also mobilize to cheer on our MU Tigers sports teams, creating a spirit of unity and support for our student athletes.
The exhibition also includes student clubs that arise around a common cause or social group. Social justice clubs like the Legion of Black Collegians, the Femme Forum, HALO, and the Triangle Coalition allow African-American, female, Latino, and LGBTQ students, respectively, an avenue for advocating for diversity on campus. Clubs for international students offer fellowship for those students living outside of their home cultures. Other clubs form to provide programming for university students, such as the Student Union Programming Board and the Tiger Claws.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at just a few of the groups in which Mizzou students have participated in the last 175 years! Visit the Traditions Lounge on the second floor of the MU Student Center to see all the clubs highlighted in the exhibition. Please feel free to share your own memories of participating in organizations and clubs during your time at MU in the comments section below!
Blog authored by Sarah S. Jones, PhD Student, Art History and Archaeology