The Archivist’s Nook: Dinks, Paddles, and Sophs! Oh My!

Freshmen dink and Sigma Pi Delta Fraternity jacket and paddle (Courtesy of Paul Rybcvzyk, BA 1972, MA 1977)
Freshmen dink and Sigma Pi Delta Fraternity jacket and paddle (Courtesy of Paul Rybcvzyk, BA 1972, MA 1977)

As the summer days wane and a fresh academic year begins, new and old faces alike are appearing across campus. Other than the confused look on some faces trying to locate O’Boyle Hall, both new and returning students alike will soon be an indistinguishable part of the campus community. However, in the past, telling the newcomers apart from the old timers was much easier, thanks to a small cap.

As the institutional memory of the University, the Archives prides itself on recording the life and times of the campus community. Though, frankly, it is often easier to secure official records than snapshots of the daily lives of students. However, with that said, many alumni have generously donated documents and artifacts from their student days. These collections include everything from nursing student capes to Greek life paddles. Yet, there is one object that many of these alumni donations share; one object that students across the decades often have in their possession. This shared artifact is the freshman dink.

A longstanding CUA tradition spanning much of the twentieth century, a cap called a dink or beanie was given to freshmen. As a form of induction into the campus community, upperclassmen required new students to don a special cap and badge marking them out as a newbie. Sometimes an official induction ceremony known as “The Capping” was also performed. These beanies were not the only requirement. Policed by the sophomore class, the freshmen were assigned a series of mandates to obey.

Freshmen during Registration, 1950s – Notice the small caps and name badges.
Freshmen during Registration, 1950s – Notice the small caps and name badges.

Much like a fraternal hazing – sans the paddle above – many of these rules look rather silly when written down and involved some social hierarchy. But they did attempt to encourage a sense of community and foster familiarity with the campus and its history. (As a historian, I can appreciate the latter.) According to the 1954 “Facts for Freshmen,” the rules were:

  1. Freshmen will wear dinks (a dink is a small red and black cap) and badges at all times!
  2. Freshmen will speak and tip their dinks to everyone they see on campus.
  3. Freshmen will always be in possession of change and matches.
  4. Freshmen will never step on a blade of grass.
  5. Freshmen will salaam before entering and after leaving the front entrance to McMahon Hall.
  6. Freshmen will sign in at Shahan at the request of the Sophomores and will give their seats and places in line to Sophomores.
  7. On the day of September 27, the Freshmen boys will wear unmatched shoes and socks and pants rolled up to their knees; on this day, the girls will not wear make-up, will wear pigtails and will carry open umbrellas.
  8. 1925 Cardinal Yearbook Depiction of a Sophomore. I personally blame that newfangled Jazz music.
    1925 Cardinal Yearbook Depiction of a Sophomore. I personally blame that newfangled Jazz music.

    Freshmen will know the names and positions of members of the Administration and will be able to recite a brief history of C.U. at the request of the Sophomores.

  9. Freshmen girls and boys will always look neat. Boys will wear a shirt and tie at all times; girls will wear ribbons of cardinal and black, the school colors.
  10. Freshmen will sing the Alma Mater and say the cheers at the request of any Sophomore.

The rules listed above must be observed at all times, except on Sunday, within the dorm, or at social functions.

On Sept. 30, the Sophs will conduct a tribunal and affix due judgement and penalties to all violators of the regulations. BEWARE!

While you may no longer have to sing on demand to become a part of the CUA community, you can still connect to its past. Whether you are new to the campus or an experienced, card-playing veteran, you can peruse the Yearbooks, the events and debates of the past via the Tower, or explore the faded terrain of the campus.

No matter what, just be glad you don’t have to wear mismatched shoes or pigtails on September 27…unless you really want to, I guess.

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