Index Throwback : Early 20th Century Stress and StuOrgs

Katie Schmitz, News Editor   

The Glee Club, 1910

The Gaynor Club for Women, 1907

It seems as though a favorite past time of Kalamazoo College students is to compare schedules to see who is managing to balance the most extracurricular activities. Our school is known for the high amounts of stress that many students feel.  This could be a product of many things, such as pressure to be involved in as many student organizations as possible, as well as highly demanding academic expectations.

This is not a new development, however. It seems as though K has always been this way. In a book written about K’s history, Marlene Cardell Francis points to a November 1905 issue of the Index, where a student said this about the College:

“There is a growing feeling among the students that Kalamazoo College is organization sick. All the student organizations of a large university are maintained, yet the number of students is so limited that practically the same students have the work to do in all. Of course, ours is a “high pressure” college and we are proud of it, but it is an important matter to know just how much work can be profitably undertaken. There is danger of spreading oneself out so thin as not to count in any place.”

Later, in the same issue, a student who was a member of the “Christian Organization,” said:

“We are busy. We have three classes (or possibly four) each day. We go to a prayer meeting Monday night, a volunteer meeting Tuesday, Y. M. or Y. W. C. A. meeting Wednesday, and literary society Friday. There are Prohibition Club meetings occasionally, Sunday afternoon meetings, committee meetings, at all hours. We practice football until we are physically and mentally unfit for study. We rush, rush, rush all day long and scarcely take time to eat and sleep.”

Around the early 20th century, there were a lot of college organizations that no longer exist on campus today. These included musical organizations, such as the Gaynor Club for Women and the Glee Club for men, many more religious organizations, such as divisions of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and Literary Societies, such as the Sherwood Society and the Eurodelphian Society. Trying to balance all of these activities proved to be very stressful for many students.

More information regarding stress at K can be found in the 8th week’s issue of the Index.