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Campus Life during Wartime

Campus was overwhelmed by the war effort. Nevertheless, life had to go on for most students. Scrapbooks from UW students during World War I show their dances, football games, clubs, and Greek-life events. President Suzzallo was away from campus for most of the war, attending to State Council of Defense activities from his offices in downtown Seattle and Olympia. In his place, the campus was run by John Condon, the dean of the law school, and Edmund Meany, a beloved professor of history. Meany continued organizing Campus Days, an annual event when all students were expected to come help with campus clean up and landscape.

The war had unexpected effects on campus life. One major example was the introduction of the quarter system, which is still used today. The system began during the war in response to a nationwide call for universities to adopt a system that allowed quick adaptation to changing curriculum needs in response to the war. The creation of the Student Army Training Corps also led to the development and support of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), which still exists today.

Not all students were on board with the war effort taking over campus. As early as 1915, when Suzzallo first came to the school and war was being fought only by European powers, students were mandated to perform military drill daily, which was highly contested in the pages of The Daily. As the U.S. came closer to entering the war, dissent was tempered and there was little student voice opposing the war or its place on campus.