Courtesy University Archives Georgetown’s physical campus only included a handful of buildings in 1903, including Healy Hall, Old North and Dahlgren Chapel.

The year is 1903. The president of the United States is Theodore Roosevelt, who just five years earlier helped lead U.S. troops to victory in the Spanish-American war. The Wright brothers will make the first successful test flight of their new “heavier-than-air machine” in December, but most people still travel by horseback – Henry Ford is five years away from introducing the popular Model T car.

And in Washington, D.C., the little 78-acre university on the Hilltop is 114 years old. In the 1903-04 school year, there are 92 students in Georgetown’s undergraduate school and seven in the graduate school, all of whom are majoring in psychology.

There is also a small law school and school of medicine, but no School of Foreign Service or business school (the nursing school will be established this year). All graduates of the college receive the same degree: a bachelor’s of arts.

If we were to follow a typical Georgetown junior of those days, chances are he would be from Washington, D.C., New York or assachusetts, as more than half of Georgetown students were. Of the 45 states in the union, Georgetown has at least one representative from 21 of them.

The typical Georgetown student will also be a white male, since African-Americans were not admitted to the College until 1950, and women were not allowed in until 1969 (though they were admitted to the other schools earlier). As a junior, however, he is somewhat of a minority, since there are only 15 students in the junior class – compared with 32 seniors, 23 sophomores and 22 freshmen.

On a typical day, our student wakes up in a dormitory in the North Building (now called Old North). The College uses seven main buildings, not including the observatory: the North Building, Gervase Hall, Mulledy Hall, Maguire Hall, Dahlgren Chapel, Healy Hall and Ryder Hall (the latter is used mostly to house hospital employees and for hospital laundry). Ryan Hall (now known as the Ryan Building) will be built in 1904 and will house a gymnasium and cafeteria.

For now, our junior dresses in attire “not slovenly or disrespectful,” according to the rules issued by Georgetown’s Prefect of Discipline, and heads out to eat breakfast on the first floor of the Mulledy Building, today’s recently-vacated Jesuit Residence. The students’ meals are usually eaten more or less in silence, but today, he sees one of his classmates reciting lines of Latin and Greek as a disciplinary punishment.

Still laughing to himself, he returns for his first class of the day: philosophy. All juniors and seniors take an hour of philosophy at this time, six days a week. Classes are given every day except Sunday, with Saturday and Wednesday afternoons off.

Then, depending what day of the week it is, he heads off for an hour of either Latin or Greek. In one week, he will have taken six classes of philosophy, two of Greek, two of Latin, three of English, two of history and five in physics. He will also have had a half hour each of catechism and elocution.

His curriculum is not markedly different from the one he had as a sophomore and freshman, except instead of philosophy, he started out each day with an hour of Latin. He also had more classes in English and Greek, while studying “Modern Languages” his first year and chemistry, his second. If he misses taking math as a junior, he can always look forward to more physics classes his senior year, in addition to two classes each week in the history of philosophy, political economy and physiological psychology.

But for now, our student is relishing his hour between noon and 1 p.m. for lunch. It’s a beautiful day, and since he has a free period next, he feels like a good game of catch on Old Hilltop Field (now Copley Lawn and White Gravenor), where the football and baseball teams play their games. Just in time, however, he remembers rule #9 from the Prefect of Discipline:

“During class hours, when students are not in class, they must be in their rooms; they are not allowed to loiter or play about the grounds.”

Regretfully, he returns to his room and reads the daily paper. He has to get in as much time as possible to catch up on current events, since he is not allowed to read newspapers during regular study hours. In fact, he and his fellow students are not permitted to read anything not relating to their classes until all of their work for school is completed.

But his classes are finished at 3 p.m. every day, so after an intense period of study before dinner, he decides to get his new suit adjusted at the tailor’s shop in the basement of the Gervase Building.

He wants to look his best tonight for the debate of the Philodemic Society, one of Georgetown’s nine main student clubs. One of the more memorable debates occurred last December, when the club discussed the resolution: “The character of Shylock as portrayed by Shakespeare is base and criminal, and his condemnation was just.”

It was a particularly interesting debate for those students who were also involved in the Georgetown Dramatic Association, devoted to the study of theater and to performing plays. Several members might also have been a part of the Philonomosian Society, whose mission was the “cultivation of eloquence and promotion of historical knowledge,” according to the 1903-1904 Georgetown University Catalogue.

In addition to a number of religious organizations, other notable groups are the Georgetown College Journal, a monthly student newspaper that reports news and serves as an organ for the Society of Alumni, and the student government of the time, the Yard, which oversees all the athletic groups: baseball, football, track, rowing, lawn tennis, billiards and glee associations.

Our student is eagerly looking forward to sitting on the long stone wall lining the football field and yelling out “Hoya Saxa!” to compliment Georgetown’s strong defensive line. But then he remembers a recent letter from his father, telling him to stop wasting time and start studying harder because college is so expensive these days.

He takes out the letter and sees his father has been so kind as to explicitly list the exact cost of his son’s education:

“Tuition, board, lodging, washing and mending of linen for the scholastic year – $400.”

“Medical aid and medicine – $10.”

“Library fee – $2.”

His father continues angrily that this $412 does not even include the $10 he spent last year for chemicals, and next year, he will have to pay $10 for the use of philosophical and astronomical instruments, as well as a $10 graduation fee. His father has thoughtfully added, “If you graduate, considering your grades from last term.”

Our intrepid student realizes at this point that it is time for ass – and since all boarders are required to be present at public religious ceremonies, he grabs his newly-tailored suit and heads out the door.

He is looking forward to later in the evening, since he obtained permission from the Prefect of Discipline to stay out until midnight that night (since it’s a Saturday). When he returns from a night off-campus with his friends, he will hand his permission ticket to the night watchman, report to the prefect’s office and head upstairs to his dormitory, where he will begin another day at Georgetown the next morning.

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