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Old Gold: Following the code
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(Editor's note: The OLD GOLD series provides a look at University of Iowa history and tradition through images housed in University Archives, Department of Special Collections.)
New student orientation at the University of Iowa is a time-honored tradition, one with customs and events that have changed over the years. What hasn’t changed is the goal to better acquaint incoming students with our campus and its offerings.
For over 30 years, from 1937 to 1968, the Code for Coeds did just that. The handy guide was distributed to incoming women students and covered just about anything a newly enrolled coed would need to know: a map of the campus, information about residence halls, academics, appropriate attire for the right occasion, campus activities, and cultural and religious opportunities.
Its premiere issue was typewritten and stapled together, with artwork colored by hand. “It has long been the desire of the University Women’s Association to offer to the new girls on the campus a few helpful suggestions together with the unwritten laws of our university. We have selected several letters written by Alice to her young friend Peggy who plans to enter college the following fall, with the feeling that Peggy’s problems may be your own,” the first issue announced.
UWA, later the Associated Women Students, prepared the Code every fall. Over time, rules, fashions, and information considered relevant changed for Code users. The 1965 issue, for example, featured “The Clothesline,” an at-a-glance chart (see image below) indicating “what Iowa coeds wear, and when.” It was reassuring to know that it was not necessary to wear heels, gloves, and purse to the football game. While fashions change, the Code consistently recommended 30 to 35 hours of studying per week for a 14- to 16-credit hour schedule.
By 1968, interest in producing the Code had run its course, perhaps a victim of changing times and attitudes. The advice offered in one of its final editions remains timeless, however: “The objectives and decisions made during your University years will influence much more of your life than the immediate present. The competence and dedication needed for personal satisfaction are gained by faithful concentration and genuine respect for others.”
Clothesline chart from 1965. Image from Student Guides and Handbooks Collection (RG 02.12), University Archives, Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.