Life at WVU During the “Roaring Twenties”
The “roaring twenties” brought many changes to WVU. Women who wore galoshes that they left unbuckled so that they flapped when they walked were known as “flappers.” These women also wore scandalously short dresses (to their knees) and had short hair.Men returning from World War I smoked more often, and, for the first time, “proper well-bred” women began to smoke in public. By March 1922, so many students smoked that custodians had to clear the cigarette butts away from the entrance to Woodburn Hall six times per day. The next year, the state fire marshal declared that smoking in buildings was a fire hazard and banned smoking in all WVU buildings. President John Roscoe Turner (pictured at left), a smoker, ignored the ban, and ashtrays reappeared in offices across campus.
No students could drink legally, as the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandated prohibition, but students could drive or ride the train to Point Marion, Pennsylvania, to visit the “speakeasies.”
The first Dean of Men, Harry Stone, began to talk about “social hygiene for men” in his freshman orientation classes in 1924 and distributed hundreds of copies of a booklet entitled Social Hygiene, which the Bureau of Venereal Diseases of the State Department of Health published with the U.S. Public Health Service.
The administration eliminated freshman hazing, but student “vigilance committees” still enforced very strict rules for first-year students. Besides suffering a paddling for not wearing a beanie, freshmen men were required to run around Mountaineer Field as a group before every football game. All freshmen were required to attend the football games. In 1922, this could have been considered quite an honor, instead of a requirement, since the Mountaineers had an undefeated football season and won a bowl game in San Diego on Christmas Day.
Elizabeth Moore Hall was dedicated in 1928 as a lounge and gymnasium for women, with sleeping rooms for women graduate students on the third floor. Stansbury Hall opened about the same time as the Field House—the men’s gymnasium.
Perley Isaac Reed (for whom the School of Journalism is named) taught WVU’s first journalism classes in 1920-21. Earl Core (for whom the Core Arboretum is named) began to teach biology during the 1920s and took part in the biology department’s first summer botanical expedition in 1926.
The 1922 undefeated football team earned WVU’s first bowl trip—the East-West Bowl in San Diego, California. (source, PDF, p. 4)