In its first 75+ years, UNC Greensboro students developed numerous traditions that carried over from year to year. Many of these traditions were tied to a student’s graduating class, with students typically arriving with a particular group of students and then graduating with them four years later. Each class elected class officers and an official class color (class colors rotated between green, red, blue, and lavender). A class motto and class flower were chosen. In the 1920s, class jackets were introduced, with students receiving a class jacket in their official class color during a special ceremony in their sophomore year.
In the late-1960s, as the student body diversified and students became less focused on the “class” as their primary identifying grouping on campus, many of these traditions fell by the wayside. In 1970, the annual tradition of electing class officers disappeared, and with it, many of the remaining traditions tied to class identity.
In 1985, however, a small group of students began an effort to revive the class identities and many of the traditions associated with it. For the first time in fifteen years, students elected class officers. Andy Snider of Kennett Square, PA was elected as the president of the Senior Class.
Additionally, specific responsibilities for each class were established. Freshmen helped recruit new students and planned Family Weekend activities. Sophomores focused on Family Weekend and sponsored a commencement activity for their “sister” class, the seniors (another revived tradition from the earlier days of the university). Juniors helped the freshmen organize and acclimate to campus. And the seniors led the new tradition revival effort as a whole. Together, the leaders of the individual classes formed the Class Council, a planning group for the renewal of old traditions and the creation of new ones.
The UNCG Alumni Association was also heavily involved in this work with the Class Council. The Class Council members used records held by the Class Council to gather information on traditions which they later presented to the student body at large. The Alumni Association also coordinated conversations about traditions between current student leaders and alumni.
The Class of 1986 took the lead in re-establishing traditions by selecting a class motto, a class song, and a class flower. On April 1, 1985, the Class of 1986 began selling class sweaters, a throwback to the class jacket tradition. The white acrylic sweaters featured the University seal along with a patch indicating the student’s class year. Class sweaters could be purchased through the Dean of Students office in the EUC for $32.
After looking back through the Alumni Association records and examining the color rotation schedule, the class also established “green” as their official class color. During Senior Day, the Alumni Association celebrated the Class of 1986 with a party featuring caps, buttons, and balloons a vibrant green. Hilda Wallerstein, Class of 1926, served popcorn to the students and talked about the past traditions. A display of past issues of the Pine Needles yearbook also allowed students to learn more about campus history.
The revival of class-based traditions, however, was short lived. On January 25, 1990, the Carolinian student newspaper published two articles about the Class Council. One titled “Controversy Surrounds Class Council” argued that the group had stalled due to “the administration’s demand for proper operating procedures, some internal conflicts over which direction the group should take, and alleged indifference on the part of some of the elected members.” A poll of students showed that only 10% of seniors could name their Class Council president; no sophomores or juniors polled could do the same.
In that article, Student Government Association president Adrienne Cregar (who had been the Sophomore class president the previous year) stated that “in the current situation, it might be more advantageous to dissolve” the Class Council. The following September, a student delegate to the SGA formally proposed the dissolution of the Class Council, which had received $500 in SGA funding each year since 1986. It appears that that dissolution did indeed happen, with no class officer elections held in Spring 1991. The Class Council’s final listing as an organization in the student handbook came in the 1990-1991 academic year.
While we have many class jackets and other class items from the earlier years of the University in our University Archives, we do not have any examples from this brief period of tradition revival. Do you have a Class of 1986 class sweater or other item with class branding from the mid- to late-1980s? If so, let us know! Please reach out to us at SCUA@uncg.edu.