Saturday, 4 October 2014

The students of the early '30's, as Miss McCarthy remembers them, were more adventurous and rebellious than us. and had a deeply-ingrained suspicion of anything conventional.

From The Vassar Chronicle Oct 1949
Mary McCarthy '33, Author Of "The Oasis," Visits VC Begins Research For "Holiday" Article About Alma Mater
by Lorraine Adelman

For the past week. Miss Mary McCarthy, Vassar 'S3 and author of The Oasis, has been on campus collecting material for one of a scries of college profiles, written by outstanding alumni, which is being presented by Holiday magazine. To gather this material, Miss McCarthy has been visiting classes, talking with small groups of students, and reading up on the college publications. Halfway through the week she decided that she "could have written the article much better" if she had stayed at home. Miss McCarthy has found many difference! between the Vassar she knew and the college as she sees it today. For example, she thinks that student dress used to be much "stoppier." "The girls today wear jeans with a sense of design." she said. adding that the P.P. students she knew were really "disreputable." The only changes she has noted in the .physical setup arc that the seniors no longer live together in Main, and that the Warden has kmg since ceased to room girls together in groups of six. She was agreeably surprised to find the advisory system in such good health, since fifteen years ago it was all but "dead."
The students of the early '30's, as Miss McCarthy remembers them, were more adventurous and rebellious than us. and had a deeply-ingrained suspicion of anything conventional. Miss McCarthy remarked that no place like the Pub could have existed "as an official place for people to go for amusement," and that no one would have dreamed of entertaining her date "under the aegis of the Alumnae Secretary." Furthermore, she added, regardless of what she really thought, no student would have ever considered confessing to the Dean in her freshman autobiography that all she was looking forward to after graduation was marriage and a home. There are. however, some things about a college girl that never change. Bridge, alternating with Pounce, a vicious kind of double solitaire, was the favorite way to waste time, and it was considered "quite chic" to be able to p«S« exams without studying for them The Vassar girl fifteen years ago thought her Bryn Mawr contemporary was "studious in rather a dreary way." and considered Smith and Wcllesley "as sort of country clubs with very km academic stand ards"
Miss McCarthy believes that tlie Vassar student today is in general more "nicely serious" than she used to be, and that the overall scope of her interests has been broadened, if not raised. She feels that while the avcraKe girl is perhaps more alert to contemporary problems, the intensity of those wlio are really interested is less, and that there has also been a loss of awareness at the cultural level. She finds tliat "something has vanisl>ed" in the way of the student who used to "dedicate herself heroically" to an ideal, be it art, politics, or whatever. Most of the girls here today, she thinks, are better adjusted and more sheltered than the ones she knew, despite the tremendous increase in their personal freedom. The Vassar student, according to Mi«s McCarthy, cannot be fitted into one certain category or type. Although she may be considered by MM to be predominantly "intellectual" or "athletic." she is usually a combination of many qualities and many abilities.
Miss McCarthy believes that this Amalgamation is a conscious goal towards which Vassar strives, and for which it is peculiarly well suited. When asked what stereotype of the Vassar student she found among her friends, Miss McCarthy answered that her male acquaintances have a "very high" one. "They think of her," she said, "as sort of a glorified Shakespearean heroine, someone who is an ideal combination of beauty, wit, and intelligence." Although the copy for her article is due December 1, Miss McCarthy
said that it wiil probably not appear fur at least six mouths. "Sine 1 am writing tor ma s circulation," the commented, "the profile will have to be mainly atmospheric—l hope you all won't be disappointed by it." Her one regret, she said, was that she had not been able to. talk to more student* while she was here.
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