I’m trawling through the Ubyssey archives right now, and I’ve came across this lovely article from Pierre Berton in (what seems to be?) his first year as an editor at the paper. A part of his Behind The News column on January 21, 1941, it takes a tone that you can still hear in Ubyssey editorials today. Here it is, original emphasis retained:
Sometime during every college session, The Ubyssey prints a story about the student passes and how much they are worth to the average undergraduate.
For example, the Ubyssey and the student council will tell upperclassmen that their pass will admit them to their class party which would otherwise cost three dollars.
The pass costs three dollars. Therefore the pass is worth the class party alone. That’s how the drift of the ‘thing runs.
But there’s something behind this item of news which The Ubyssey omits to mention, which the student council omits to mention and which the class executive Itself omits to mention :
It is this: THE GREATER MAJORITY OF UPPERCLASSMEN ARE BANNED FROM THEIR OWN CLASS PARTIES BECAUSE OF A CUSTOM WHICH DEMANDS THAT THEY ATTEND IN FORMAL ATTIRE.
Where now is the value of your pass? If the party were to be worth three dollars or fifteen dollars, you still couldn’t attend unless you could afford to buy or rent a tux. If you haven’t got a tux you just don’t go.
Class executives sometimes try to soothe their corporate conscience by telling students they can go informal if they want to. Try it sometime. Try dancing in a ballroom wearing a blue suit while the throngs around you are encased in starched shirts. You won’t try it a second time.
It is a strange paradox that class parties which are theoretically free to all members of the class, are free only to the privileged minority who can afford the luxury of a tuxedo. They are the ones who could pay their way in any event. The students whom the pass really benefits are banned from attendance by a vicious tradition.
The money for the Junior Prom and the Senior Class party comes in part from the pass system fund. Thus, THE STUDENTS WHO CAN LEAST AFFORD TO DO SO, ARE PAYING THE ADMISSION FEE OF THE STUDENTS WHO CAN AFFORD TO ATTEND THE BALL IN STYLE.
There’s something wrong somewhere.