The "New" History of R-MWC
*** April Fools!***
by Meredith Minter, Class of 1984, writing as Catnip Sprig, the Past Mistress
In the past few years, apathy toward R-M's past has steadily grown. Students, weary of Founder's Day, finding Odd Day obnoxious and stomps passe, have migrated more and more to W&L. Indeed, at the recent traditions sessions in Garland, the speakers outnumbered their audience.
And The Sinfile knows why! For far too long, the student body has accepted the tame, official History of Randolph-Macon so carefully concocted by Reverta D. Camellia. In recent years, lest the deception should grow thin, her propaganda has been strongly reinforced by the machinations of "Back Page" Winter, known to one and all as the disseminator of disinformation supporting R-M's vested interests.
Brace yourself for the truth: there are more scandals hidden behind the Red Brick Wall than there are beneath the Capitol Dome. And now, with the persistence of Woodward and Bernstein, the fearlessness of William AlIen White and the unflinching honesty of Janet Cooke [reporter who won the Pulitzer in 1981 for articles that later proved to have been fabricated], The Sinfile has wrung the Archives dry. The work has been hard, for the essential falsity of R-M's records goes back to the days of its founding.
At first, according to a reliable source held at gunpoint, R-M was intended as a men's school, similar to its Ashland counterpart. Indeed, founding President Stiff went so far as to publish a prospectus with that in mind. However, loud, indignant protests from W&L and, it is rumored, repeated death threats from VMI, caused him to change his plans. Thus, and no otherwise, R-MWC was born.
Soon Dr. Stiff became reconciled to the idea of a woman's college. "We are good friends," he wrote in an oft-quoted poem, "my girls and I." Just how good those friendships were can easily be seen by the next verse, "We know each other well, my girls and I." Those recalling the Biblical sense of the word "know"—and all sources agree that Dr. Stiff was quite religious—will quickly be convinced that the Founder fathered our College in more ways than one.
Not only may scandalous immorality be found in the College's past, a certain mercenary spirit, commonly expressing itself in tuition increases, has abounded. For instance, it is not generally known that the statue known as "The General" is really a replica of Hugh Hefner, brought at half price by President Quack in the thirties. Considering its nature it is surely understandable that the statue has murdered several virgins over the years, drawing its sword and running them through. Several professors, among them Spike Norris, are reportedly assisting Dr. Spiffy in making certain no such tragedy happens again.
But the biggest mass murder the College has ever faced—in 1975—it hushed up so well that no one really noticed. Certainly, the school's enrollment dropped by 50 percent, but all colleges face declining numbers of students... it happened like this.
There was a Skeller sing, held at the first of the year. Gathered together on the porch, the Evens made the welkin—or at least Conway—ring with their song. Some say they shouted louder than they ever had before. Whatever the reason, as they reached the last line of "Watch Out, Odds!," the Devil acted on the suggestion. A suffocating stench of brimstone, unbearable heat—The Evens covered their faces and when they could see again, they saw only a thick layer of soot where the Odds had been.
Dazed by the shock, several seniors and sophomores reverted to childhood, becoming convinced that they were freshmen. From this nucleus, and from a number of brave volunteers, the Odd classes we rebuilt. A recruiting campaign vividly described out of context in the Faculty Show, was started at W&L. Within two years, things were back to normal, except for a faint sulphuric tang in the Skeller's ice cream.
R-M's professors haven't always been paragons, either, contrary to popular belief.
Just a few years ago, Dr. Trumpett was found giving his students free cups of Kool-Aid [a reference to the Jonestown Massacre of 1978]. When questioned by Dr. Spiffy, he explained that he wanted to teach them the Socratic method. And then there is Dr. Flayer, professor of Mystery—recent research has shown that one of the corner-stones of his introductory courses is in error. For the information of those benighted students exposed to his teaching, towns miraculously appeared in Europe on May 2, 1000, at 12:01 a.m. [Dr. "Flayer" was fond of telling his introductory history students that "All at once, towns sprang up all over Europe, on May the first, A.D. 1000, at eight o'clock in the morning."]. So gross an error simply cannot be explained away.
Having learned these things, how can we as students remain apathetic? History is no longer boring. We have been deluded into acquiescence long enough. Students of R-M, unite! We have nothing to lose but our brains!
Originally published in The Sundial on April 1, 1982 (Vol. 66, no. 22, p. 4)
This article is taken from "The Past Master," a column written by Meredith Minter Dixon, class of 1984, for the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College student newspaper, The Sundial. It is published here with her permission.
Mrs. Dixon has written an invaluable multi-volume set, Maconiana: A Social History of Randolph-Macon Woman's College. For additional information, please visit her author's page on Amazon.
Please contact Mrs. Dixon (dixonm at pobox dot com) if you have comments or questions about her articles.