Back when Columbo was solving your weekly mystery, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were ruling the radio, hair spray was a weekly purchase and Mr. T was the coolest guy in town — Huden Dining Hall hosted keg parties. Back in the ’70s and ’80s when many of us were being born and others of us were playing with the latest Cabbage Patch doll, our parents and elders were kicking back beers in Huden and going to many school sponsored festivals.
“I had a couple of friends from New York City who were DJ’s, they use to come with equipment and break dancers,” said Chrispin White, director of community service and internships who is also a Castleton Alumni from the class of 1986. White said faculty and staff use to come together for games and events on a weekly basis.
“Everyone had fun together,” said White.
And keg-laden festivals were all the hype back in the 1970s, memorialized in nearly every yearbook of the decade. The drinking age was 18 at the time and professors and students recall that the kegs were popular and helped draw a crowd.
“Fall Foliage Festival in October was deemed a success. It began unofficially on Wednesday with an eight keg party in the basement of Adams,” a blurb from the 1975 Castleton year book reads.
“It’s a whole different ball game when you can drink at 18,” said Victoria Angis assistant dean for campus life, when asked about the fewer number of students who turn out for events on campus today.
“Not every student had an I-Pod or a DVD player with a TV in their room,” she said Angis, offering further evidence on how things have changed on campus in 30 years.
But Professor Paul Albro, who has taught at the college since 1977, said factors other than no keg parties have led to decreasing attendance at campus events.
“Students didn’t work as much as they do now,” he said “Maybe it was because tuition was cheaper.”
Albro also offered some insight into a Castleton State College world that current students can’t possibly understand, a world of parties on campus, semi-formals, winter weekends with 30 kegs, and Greek life that was active on campus.
“I can’t talk about that,” said White, smiling and laughing as he reminisced about the parties Albro spoke of.
The drinking age changed in the mid ’80s and the school had no choice but to end the keg-based events on campus. But what about the students? Were they so different from you and I?
A 1975 yearbook article said, “one of the students’ major complaints was the Dining Hall. Not only the food, but also the employees. Some things never change!”
“People complained about food and parking then, the same things they complain about now,” Angis said.
According to old Spartan newspapers, students had a 10% discount card that they could use at The College Diner, now known as Birds Eye, or at the Blue Cat, a long-gone bar that was in the back of the village store.
But Lyn Adams, a financial aid counselor who has worked at the school for nearly two decades, said she does notice differences between students of two decades ago and those on campus today – positive difference.
“More people are here to learn and get their degrees than in the ’70s,” Adams said. “But President Wolk’s description of the small college with a big heart is true – and it’s always been that way.