How to avoid those embarrassing social errors… Wiscetiquette

September 1, 2015

By Rachel Milani

As the new school year begins and old students begin to return to campus and new students embark on that ever-so thrilling rollercoaster known as freshman year, let’s pause and take a moment to take some advice from a piece of campus history on how to start the year off on the right foot.

Part of the UW-Madison collection, UW-Madison Student Guidebooks and Handbooks collection hosts a variety of different publications created by a various campus or Madison-based organizations.  These guides provide detailed information about student daily life, extra-curricular activities, general University rules and regulations, and other key subjects intended to educate incoming students.  But don’t let the informational nature of these guidebooks fool you!  These publications include a variety of humorous writings and anecdotes related to social norms and other aspects of campus life:

  • “Some of you will go out for track, some for swimming, some for studying, and others will go out for that extra-curricular activity known as apple polishing or mitt-wringing. But whatever you call it, don’t fool yourself that it isn’t recognized both by your victim and by other students with the same fell motive.”
  • If at any point you lose interest in a lecture, “please don’t turn to your neighbor for a social half hour. Maybe, with his debased sense of values, he is getting something out of it. … Or maybe he is asleep and you shouldn’t disturb him.”
  • “Should your date turn out to be a first class baby scarer, don’t show that you are afraid of it.  Goons often have good connections and quite possibly know the right people…”
  • “Incidentally, the penalty for overdue books is enormous; starting at $.50 the first hour overdue (as of 1947 that is); it gets worse every minute.”