College clashes
    Protests shook Northwestern at the suggestion of a merger with the University of Chicago. Photo courtesy of the Northwestern Archives.

    Giving the ‘Bibs’ a bath

    Of all the educational institutions in and around Chicago, Northwestern has probably interacted most with its Bible-brained Methodist cousin, Evanston’s Garrett Biblical Institute. The schools have always striven for amicable, collaborative relations, but sometimes prank-loving students get in the way. On May 31, 1912, the Chicago Tribune reported 50 Northwestern students had seized six biblical students from Heck Hall, a Garrett dorm, and hurried them down to the lake.

    “Then,” the paper reported, “the luckless ones were thrown in and thoroughly ‘ducked’ before they were allowed to wade from the water.” Giving the ‘Bibs’ a bath, as the act was known, usually took place in autumn when “the collegians think it a good time for eluding the police [and] capturing a few theological students.” For better or for worse, the forced baptisms of the 1910s have fallen by the wayside as a Northwestern tradition.

    What’s in a name?

    This private college was founded by a religious group in the mid-19th century and is located in mid-sized city in Chicago’s suburbs. That’s right – Go North Western College Cardinals! From 1864 to 1926, North Western College in Naperville shared its compass-inspired name with our university.

    The confusion apparently didn’t reach a tipping point until 1925, when a May 12 editorial in North Western College’s newspaper decried: “There have probably been hundreds of incorrectly written news articles, giving the university credit for victories or defeats of our athletic teams, our glee clubs and other organizations.” It also mentioned an instance during which North Western College received a $17,000 check intended for our school. This “endless confusion” prompted the paper to suggest the name North Central College, which the school adopted a year later and still bears today. No word on when Northeastern will decide to follow suit.

    The super-university that never was

    The Great Depression made for tough times, but was also cause for great innovation. Out of the era sprang the game Monopoly, the car radio, and the idea to merge Northwestern and the University of Chicago into a super-university spanning the Chicago shoreline. In June 1933, U of C President Robert Hutchins hatched the plan to Northwestern’s then-president Walter Dill Scott, who liked the idea. The proposed union would have created the “Universities of Chicago,” a three-headed behemoth of higher education with undergraduate studies portioned to Evanston, graduate work to Hyde Park, and professional education to Northwestern’s downtown campus.

    Referred to as the “Special Committee on an Important Problem,” the planned merger was kept a secret until December 1933. When finally made public, the news outraged Evanstonians and Northwestern students, who responded by burning effigies of Presidents Scott and Hutchins. While the plan was abandoned in February 1934, President Scott remained convinced that “the merger will become a reality at some future date.” For the sake of Willie the Wildcat, please, no.

    See also: A brief history of Deering


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