50th Anniversary

1967 vs. 2017: How Things Have (and Haven’t) Changed

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50 years is a long time. We all know that a whole lot can change, but what’s surprising is just how much stays the same.

Meet Pam and Mike Collins, our college kids of 1967. Pam studied Radiological Technology at Good Samaritan Hospital, and Mike studied Economics at Xavier University. They’ve been married for almost 46 years, and now their granddaughter (me), is a full-time student at UC Blue Ash College.

Mike Collins in 1967

Paul Michael Collins in 1967

Pam Collins in 1967

Pamela Hamberg Collins in 1967

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of our college, I sat down with them to see what being a college student in Cincinnati was really like 50 years ago.

Technology

“Notebooks and pens, just notebooks and pens,” is the first thing Pam recalls from college. “And the library was a big deal, there was no technology so you had to go to the library for all your research.” Mike remembers relying on the Wall Street Journal and the Economist to use as references during his finance classes.

As a college student in 2017, my laptop is glued to me like a fifth limb. I’m always working on homework, checking e-mails, referring to my notes. Academia in the 21st century is so technology driven, I’m not sure any of us could get through a semester with the library alone.

Pam and Mike Collins keep up with technology and take a selfie in 2017.

Pam and Mike Collins keep up with technology and take a selfie in 2017.

Without the internet or cable TV, my grandparents relied on newspapers and the nightly news to stay up-to-date on the world, “I would say almost 100% of households got a daily newspaper and you watched the news at 6:00 and 11:00. You trusted the news and you related to people on a personal level.”

Mike and Pam agree that life was more personal back then. “You didn’t communicate by phone, you communicated in person, did things in person…when you made plans you’d say ‘I’ll meet you at 6 p.m. at this bar’ and if they didn’t show up you just made other arrangements.”

But other than the technology aspect, the process of going to class sounds pretty familiar. Mike recalls, “my day was similar to what the classes are today: Monday, Wednesday, Friday you have the same classes, and Tuesday and Thursday you had different ones that were a little bit longer. Attendance was taken at the beginning and if ya missed a pop quiz…woe be the day! You took extensive notes, and after class in the student lounge you’d get together and say ‘what was this all about?’, then you’d go home and read and underline your text and try to make sense of it all.” Sounds about right, am I right?

Add for Duff's Steakhouse, where Mike was manager, in the UC News Record, October 1967.

Ad for Duff’s Steakhouse, where Mike was manager, in the UC News Record, October 1967.

Balancing Work and School

Pam notes that one of the biggest differences she sees between attending college then versus now is the presence and necessity of financial aid. “We didn’t get college loans, we thought if you can’t earn the money yourself, you don’t ask for stuff. But that was just our mentality because of our parents growing up in the Depression and then during World War II.” Pam chose to study X-ray Technology, because she received a stipend of $12.50/week at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Mike worked his way through college as a bartender and bar manager at “Duff’s Steakhouse”, located on Calhoun in the middle of the UC Uptown campus (right next to where Uncle Woody’s is now), making $1.40/hour.

World Affairs

One of the defining aspects of the 1960’s was the Vietnam War. Many American students opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam for a wide range of reasons: they argued that the draft targeted lower and middle-class citizens, some claimed that the U.S. was only involved for imperialistic purposes, and photographic evidence of mass civilian casualties in Vietnam provoked public outcry.

Mike remembers working at Duff’s Steakhouse during the draft. Someone brought a TV in and set it up on the bar, “the place was jam-packed with males, not a woman in the bar, waiting to see what their draft number was.” Today the only draft college boys pack into bars for involves fantasy football. Not quite the same.

Pam recalls the protests on campus, “That’s when protesting the government had just started. It was like, ‘wait a minute, what are we doing [in Vietnam]?'”.

Growing up, my generation learned about these protests in our history classes and saw them as just that: history. I’m not sure that any of us expected to grow up to be part of a generation that is facing social and political turmoil that very much mirrors the issues from 50 years ago. Protesting the government may have been a new phenomenon in the 1960’s, but it is a practice that is more alive than ever, right now in 2017.

Students protest the Vietnam War in the late 1960's

Students protest the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s

Students at the 2017 Women's March.

Students at the 2017 Women’s March.

The world keeps on changing and expanding, we have easier access to communication, news, information: with the rise of technology we have the world at our fingertips. Education is less affordable, yet more accessible. I couldn’t tell you the last time I held a physical copy of a newspaper in my hands. But it seems to me that the values and the spirit of the college student have stood the test of time. We study, we go to class, we work in restaurants. We are invested in the social and political issues in the world around us. We make meaningful friendships with classmates. We hang out in grubby Clifton bars on the weekend and then we start over on Monday.

Pam sums it up neatly, “In general our lives were similar to yours: you go to school, you work, and on the weekends you party.”

Mike adds, “And after you’d had a night out there were only two places to go: Skyline and White Castle.” (I guess some things never change…)

The world is much different than it was 50 years ago, but for college students, a lot seems to be just the same.

About Olive Wright

Olive Wright is the Communications Intern with the Communications Department at UC Blue Ash College for the 2017-18 academic year. Look forward to seeing Olive's contributions to UCBANOW and www.ucblueash.edu all year long.