UA History and Traditions

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Old Main c. 1890-1899


On Oct. 1, 1891, The University of Arizona opened its doors. When the school bell rang that first day of class, Tucson celebrated.

Thirty-two students enrolled for the first semester but only six were admitted to the freshman class. The rest went to a specially established prep school. The problem was there were no high schools in the territory. It took seventeen years for university students to outnumber those in the prep classes. The University maintained the preparatory classes for twenty-three years.

How about student life during those years? The students rode their cow ponies to school and tied them to hitching posts near Old Main. Discipline was strict. Running on the balcony of Old Main cost the offending student 10 demerits. In 1892, the dean of students asked the Board of Regents to prohibit the use of firearms on campus. And if a student's class work wasn't going well the problem was immediately taken up by the entire faculty and his parents were called in for a conference.