This Week In Amherst History

Tension between the classes of 1942 and 1943, freshmen and sophomores at the time, exploded sixty-one years ago this week in a dorm war, The Student reported in an article titled “Ignominious Root Marks Vain Effort To Discipline Frosh Via Dormitory Raid.” The sophomores planned the invasion carefully, but they evidently underestimated the freshmen, who “were not abed as all good little freshmen should be.” Undaunted, the invading sophomores prepared for a series of attacks, including blackouts and alarms, from the exposed area between “Fort Morrow and Castle Pratt.”

The sophomores began their charge but were quickly halted by a volley from the ever-resilient frosh. But the “great siege of Fort Morrow of 1939” will be forever known as “the last glorious stand in defense of the inalienable right of all sophomores to oppress all freshmen.”


Forty-four years ago this week, The Student profiled Professor of Biology Dr. George Wallace Kidder. Kidder, a leading scientist in the new discipline of biochemistry who was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Science by President Victor Butterfield of Wesleyan University.

Kidder’s national fame began with an incredible finding in the spring of 1949, which the International News Service called “one of the most important and promising approaches in humanity’s struggle to conquer the dreaded killer, cancer.” The Student reported that Kidder and his associates had discovered that azaguanine, a metabolic analog, would inhibit the growth of certain forms of cancer and leukemia in mice without injuring the normal cells of the host.

Kidder also hoped to recruit more Amherst students to participate in research. The Student called Kidder the embodiment of “the highest tradition of the Amherst educator.”


Seventeen years ago this week, The Student reported on the results of a survey conducted by The Student over fall break. According to the results, Amherst was ranked the wimpiest liberal arts college by 43.9 percent of the respondents.

The survey was conducted among physical education instructors at colleges nationwide and dealt with schools’ brawn-to-brain ratio, student bodies and overall wimpiness. An overwhelming 100 percent of the 867 respondents ranked liberal arts schools as the wimpiest colleges in the nation, naming Amherst the wimpiest undergraduate school. Respondents cited factors such as smallness, lack of football stadiums, lack of kegs at football games, a large choral society and even “bookwormishness and a scarcity of chest hair.” Some were also believers in the rumor that Amherst dropped the physical education requirement for fear that no one would graduate. Swarthmore and Williams Colleges followed Amherst on the wimpy scale.

The Amherst Public Affairs office dismissed the results as “blown out of proportion.”