Students have moved onto campus, signed the honor code pledge, climbed Murchison Tower, and partied at NSO: Now, it’s 7:45 a.m the next morning and their alarms are blaring.
It’s time for the first day of classes.
Some students are probably starting their routines off with a nice shave. Unless they’re Mark Nowak in 1986, who ran into electrical difficulties the morning before his first class:
“I recently discovered that it is impossible to shave in my bathroom without turning on the light,” Nowak said in a Trinitonian column. “Without the light on, the only socket in the bathroom will not work. I can tell you, I had a very hard time figuring this one out the first morning I got up to shave. (I did not shave until the first day of classes to steal the thunder of a certain gentleman who currently appears on a TV show as a vice cop.)”
Next, students will probably swing through Mabee Dining Hall or Coates Student Center for a bite of breakfast. Unless they’re Jeanna Goodrich ’08:
“On the first day of class, on the treacherous tile in front of Coates, I oh-so-gracefully fell on my bum in front of all the first-years and will now forever be known as ‘that girl who fell on my bum in front of the first-years.’”
In Coates, students can then swing by the bookstore to pick up their textbooks. Unless they’re on campus in 1997, when an accounting error cost nearly 300 students their textbooks on the first day of class.
“Professors encountered such hassles as photocopying books for students, revamping class schedules, and even canceling classes as a result of the book ordering confusion,” recounts a January 1997 edition of the Trinitonian.
Finally, students arrive in their first classes. Here it’s a life-or-death scramble to get the perfect seat, as Leif Olson describes in a 1997 Trinitonian column:
“You will probably choose a seat in a classroom during the first class session of the semester. You may or may not have intended this seat to be yours for the duration of the semester, but, for the nonce, it belongs to you. It is clearly understood, though, by you and the other students in the class, that this first session is simply a trial run. People jockey for seats in class all the time. Whether you want to look attentive by sitting in the front or avoid a professor's spittle by sitting on the sidelines, seating is an important issue and should not be taken lightly. That is why seat placement becomes fixed after the second full week of class.”
And that’s assuming students even have seats to sit in. On the first-ever first day of classes in 1869, carpenters hadn’t yet finished renovations on the Tehuacana campus.
“With little fanfare and much anticipation, Trinity University commenced classes in Tehuacana on 23 September 1869, later than the scheduled opening on the first Monday in September because carpenters still were renovating the former Boyd residence to use for classrooms. Even so, seven students presented themselves to the five-member Trinity faculty at the opening session. By the end of the first term, nearly a hundred had enrolled.”
Despite these headaches, Trinity students still hold fond memories of their opening days on campus. While the student body has grown from a few hundred to more than 2,400, the campus remains a tight-knit community that starts forging friendships on day one:
"I love how small it is here,” says Katie Hampton ’08 told the Mirage, “and how on the first day of classes, or even just walking around campus, you know you will see someone you have met before."