Confusion Corner: An ‘Echo’ that lasts forever

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November 13, 2010

10:45 AM

Every fall semester at the College of William and Mary, each student is given the opportunity to have his or her yearbook photograph taken. I am sure I am not the only student at the College to have received an onslaught of e-mails reminding me to sign up for my photo slot. Upon conducting some low-key research for this article, I re-read some of these e-mails, urging me to “say cheese” for posterity. As Senior Class President Michael Tsidulko so eloquently put it, a yearbook photo will “immortalize you forever within the pagesof the Echo.” While you have already missed your chance this semester, photos will be taken in the spring.

For those of you unfamiliar with the College’s yearbook, let me fill you in. The Colonial Echo was first published in 1899 and has been printed every year since, except for in 1900 and 1904.

As a student who had never even heard of the Colonial Echo until halfway through my collegiate career, the last way I would ever think of immortalizing my time at the College would be through a yearbook photograph. However, I was intrigued. Researching this article also became slightly more appealing when I realized exactly how much schoolwork I have to complete between now and the holidays. I decided it was absolutely necessary to peruse the online archives of an absolutely obscene number of Colonial Echoes. (As a side note: I highly recommend this activity. Past students at the College seem to be just as quirky and unphotogenic as many of us are.) For those diligent students out there who need the SparkNotes version of the 95 Colonial Echoes on archive, let me give you some of the highlights.

In 1905, after the yearbook staff got its act together, there was a full-page cartoon illustrating a professor aggressively opening a student’s mouth so that another professor could pour in a bottle labeled “Triple Ex of Latin, Greek and Arithmetic.” I am fairly certain such an image of binge drinking (even if it is a drink of knowledge) would be strongly discouraged in today’s sanitized yearbooks. The 1905 yearbook also dedicates a page to the Yankee Club, whose members “have become great admirers of the Southern women and consequently refuse to allow their names to be printed in connection with this club.” I assume this is to ensure they can remain sly and suave in their pursuits of said women.

Now fast forward to a Colonial Echo from 1967: It appears that every male student on campus was a clone of a member of the Beatles — who also enjoyed having oh-so-photogenic pillow fights. Perhaps my favorite image from the 1967 yearbook documents the scuba class, which was photographed underwater in a makeshift classroom complete with desks and chairs.

I will stop here and spare you the plethora of gems I discovered during my absolutely necessary research. What I have concluded is that we, as a College, need to make our Echo as loud and clear as those Echoes of the past. We must ensure that some columnist, 50 or 60 years down the road, will be as amused as I was by the pages of our yearbook. If that means biting the bullet and getting your photo taken, starting a club with a completely bizarre mission statement, or even just ensuring that your day-to-day life is filled with as many Kodac moments as possible, just do it.

__Emily Walker is a Confusion Corner columnist. She has been practicing her smile for weeks.__

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