If the invading hordes of Nassau look a trific weary today there may be more behind the halting step and the glassy eye than the effects of gazing upon Yankee Boston or the defeat at the hands of Penn last week. For the grand old Tiger tradition of the "dink" wars and the "cane spree" had a bloody post-war renaissance last week and the Princeton Freshmen and Sophomores are still counting their bruises.
The sophomores, it appears, came out on top of the struggle this year. Their victory in the "cane spree" finals earned them the right to sit on the Princeton side of the field during a football contest with a certain Connecticut college next Saturday. But the Freshmen can doff the dinks by beating their New Haven counterparts, the Daily Princetonian informs us.
An Old Nassau Custom
It all started way back around 1875 when groups of Princeton undergraduates held "joyous free for alls" to build up class spirit. Somehow the idea evolved of a cane that was to be the prize of the Sophomore-Freshman struggles and by 1877 the University was sanctioning the affairs.
Little by little, due to what the Princetonian quaintly calls "innumerable broken bones," the sprees acquired regulations. Today they are little more than minor Olympic matches with the Sophomores and Freshmen fielding teams in touch football, softball, track, and topping it off with wrestling bouts for the possession of the grand old cane.
Along the line, the little black dinks found their way to Princeton, and the glorious battle between non-bedinked Freshmen and the sophisticated Sophomores replaced the rough and tumble of the old cane sprees.
Just when this came about is unclear, but it works out very simply. Freshmen are required to wear the beanies and it is the sacred duty of the Sophomores to enforce, the ruling. So they blockade the Commons and permit only "bedinked" Freshmen to enter--a starve 'em out campaign.
During the war both practices disappeared from the Tiger campus and up to about two weeks ago it looked as if dinks at Princeton were doomed to extinction. But a mass meeting of the Class of 1950 on October 23 considered the question "to dink or not to dink," and the next morning the Princetonian headline proclaimed "Class Of 1950 Upholds Tradition; Freshmen Without Dinks To Starve."
"The action taken by the Sophomore class ... was well-advised and the enthusiasm displayed encouraging," an editorial commented the following day, "but it remains to be seen if physical action will follow on parliamentary action ... Violence...should be kept to a minimum."
Two nights later "the old-time Princeton class spirit was back with all its pre-war force" as 500 defiant, dinkless Freshmen vainly battered a solid Sophomore phalanx in front of Alexander Hall. The Freshmen fought like "demons," the daily tells us. "Fists flew promiscuously, water and even water buckets dropped from above..."
The next night several starving Freshmen put brains above brawn and infiltrated Sophomore ranks through the windows. Some "donned dinks and passed through unmolested." Dean of the College F. B. R. Godolphin hailed the revival. Both classes have "established their integrity" by demonstrating "the beginnings of a spirit of class unity which hasn't been seen on the campus since before the war," the Dean said.
But the Princetonian of October 29 had more to worry about than reports from the battlefronts. More than three fourths of the editorial page is reluctantly relinquished to letters from students who don't like the whole idea.
Two of the letters blame the Princetonian for inciting the struggle which they insist should have been enforced in September, not late October. One Freshman points out the food wastage and another decries the "splitting into factions" of the undergraduate spirit "needed sorely for the football games coming this and the following weekends."
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