Campus culture and traditions divides students

Cadets Levertte, Thomas Shope and Hunt in front of the cannon at North Georgia College in 1932. (Photo courtesy of the University of North Georgia Libraries.)

(From left to right) Cadets Levertte, Thomas Shope and Hunt stand in front of the cannon at North Georgia College in 1932. (Photo from the Nighthawks Open Institutional Repository.)

The Board of Regents consolidated Gainesville State College and North Georgia College and State University in 2013, but is the consolidation of two separate histories and cultures possible?

Recently students have expressed concern that students who come to Dahlonega from other campuses are not aware of the traditions. Nathaniel Cutler, a Dahlonega student government association representative and cadet in the Corps, brought the concern before SGA at the Sept. 14 meeting.

For some cadets, knowing the traditions is just a matter of asking.

“If anyone ever has any specific questions about why we do what we do, we really don’t mind people asking us,” sophomore business major Emily Lockridge, a cadet in the Corps said. “Anyone in the Corps can pretty much answer any basic questions, because we take classes on tradition. We like to answer them, because it shows that the civilian students care enough to be curious about it.”

Dahlonega campus has undergone many changes since North Georgia Agricultural College was founded in 1873, but it always had military training. According to Herbert Eugene Randall’s dissertation analyzing senior military colleges, the college was required to offer military training because of the Morrill Act which donated land to form colleges.

The book “Georgia’s Best Kept Secret,” published by alumni of North Georgia College, explains how the Corps became a part of the Reserve Officers Training Program in 1916, but in 1920, the college was not rated as a military college, according to Randall’s dissertation.

“In 1922, under a new president, North Georgia assumed a civilian character. By May 1923, the college had lost its Military College classification and did not regain it until 1926,” Randall said in his dissertation. “By 1930…a fully military environment was evident.”

In 2007, the college changed its residence policy for male students, according to an article in the Gainesville Times. Until then, the university required that male students who lived on campus participated in the Corps of Cadets.

The traditions at the Dahlonega campus have stayed the same. The UNG student handbook, available on the university website, lists the traditions, most of which relate to the Corps.

The reveille at 7:00 a.m. marks when the U.S. flag is raised, and the retreat at 5:00 p.m. marks when the flag is lowered. Taps is played at midnight to signal to the cadets that they should be in the barracks and students are not to use the drill field as a shortcut. Students are also not allowed to walk on the retreat triangle, where the cannon stands.

The Memorial Wall by Memorial Hall is only to be entered by students paying respect to the alumni who have lost their lives in war and is not to be used as a shortcut. The Col. Ben Purcell Formation Plaza, is encouraged to be used for military formations, but cadets are not to stand on the brass plaque where Purcell’s name is engraved. Purcell was an alumni from the North Georgia College class of 1950, the highest ranking prisoner of war in the Vietnam War, and a former commandant of the Corps of Cadets.

“The most important ones to [the Corps] are reveille, retreat, and the memorial wall,” Lockridge said. “As for the little things like not walking on the grass…is more of a general courtesy to other students and the university as a whole. Honestly, most of the Corps traditions are based in respect and courtesy.”

The tradition of not walking on the drill field originated when the school was an agricultural college, according to a Facebook post by Dahlonega SGA. Crops were grown on what is now the drill field, and walking there would destroy the crops. The tradition was later adopted by the Corps.

Gainesville campus is newer compared to the Dahlonega campus and was founded in 1964 as a junior college, according to the university website. Gainesville Junior College became Gainesville College in 1987, and the Oconee campus was added in 2003. In 2005, the college became Gainesville State College, according to the university website.

Gov. Carl Sanders, Lanier Tech Director John Lloyd, State Board of Education Chairman James Peter, Board of Regents Chairman James A. Dunlap, and College President Dr. Hugh Mills prepare to break ground at the site of Gainesville Junior College. (Photo courtesy of the Nighthawks Open Institutional Repository.)

(From left to right) Gov. Carl Sanders, Lanier Tech Director John Lloyd, State Board of Education Chairman James Peter, Board of Regents Chairman James A. Dunlap, and College President Dr. Hugh Mills prepare to break ground at the site of Gainesville Junior College. (Photo from the Nighthawks Open Institutional Repository.)

Unlike Dahlonega, Gainesville has no traditions, alumni Nathan Hall said.

“Traditions? No,” Hall said. “Other than going there for two years and transferring to a better school.”

For some students, the lack of traditions is not the only thing keeping the university from becoming more unified.

“We never do anything with those students and we don’t even know each other,” Morgan Sosebee,┬ásenior nursing major at the Dahlonega campus said. “We have clubs on our campus that they don’t. They are a commuter school so even the environment of college life is different. It’s more like high school.”

Quinn Kelley, a junior psychology major who has attended classes on the Oconee, Gainesville, and Dahlonega campuses agreed.

“The only one that actually feels like a university is Dahlonega,” Kelley said. “The Oconee campus is so small it feels like a glorified high school, and Gainesville is like the middle child – forgotten about and looked over.”

Unifying the campuses starts with offering the same courses on all the campuses, Kelley said.

“You can’t even get your bachelor’s at the Oconee campus.”

Students can read more on the differences between campuses here.

8 Comments on Campus culture and traditions divides students

  1. And this is a surprise? The culture of the Dahlonega campus is diminished by the consolidation. For me, it will always be NGC

  2. NGC, NGCSU, and UNG Dahlonega will always carry a special place in its students hearts. The Corps and tight knit community of the general student body is what makes UNG Dahlonega such a special place. The traditions of the Corps of Cadets and NG as a whole are what keeps and shapes the identity of the Dahlonega campus. Without tradition, UNG Dahlonega would be robbed of its identity and be forced into the roll of “Degree Mill” (which seems to be the sentiment of the other campuses). Keep the Corps strong, keep up the motivation, elevate tradition. Truth and Wisdom.

  3. Johnny Hart 72-73 // October 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm // Reply

    My diploma says North Georgia College, my class ring says North Georgia College and I attended 4.5 tough years at North Georgia College. It still should be North Georgia College. The Regents got it wrong. Would VMI change its name, the Citadel, not Way! The article listed pretty much covers the topic, the other campus has no traditions and we do. Don’t mess them up.

  4. You don't get my name // October 7, 2015 at 9:31 am // Reply

    If everyone didn’t act like people from Gainesville had the plauge or looked at them like they were retarded. It might be nice going to UNG but seriously everyone I meet is probably the biggest jerk to me just because I went to Gainesville. If only people didn’t have such a close minded view on other people going to class wouldn’t be so hostile. They really just need to put on the website “if you don’t just go to dahlonega, just leave we don’t want you here.”

  5. This is such a rude and entitled and snotty attitude to take towards the students in Gainesville and our other campuses. We are consolidated people! Get over it. That is so precious that you think they are like a high school. Guess what, with comments like that YOU make DAHLONEGA look small and petty and immature, kinda like high school. I have gone to UNG since 2008 and this attitude towards the Gainesville campus in particular embarrasses me and YOU the DAHLONEGA student body should be ASHAMED. You are not better than anyone else! No wonder they don’t like us. Looks like also you should have interviewed some other students from our other campuses. But no, that might have required some effort. LAZY JOURNALISM. LAZY and INCOMPETENT.

    • The two campus cultures are incompatible .
      The merger destroys the once great NGC campus.

      • What’s your point exactly? It’s done. Over with. Millions spent to change to the new unified school. How exactly does the merger destroy anything? We are not incompatible, we are different and that is a huge difference. Whining because you don’t like something that’s been that way for 3 years is an exercise in futility.

  6. Concerned Student // February 15, 2016 at 11:53 pm // Reply

    At least at our “High School” we are inclusive, and know which words in a title need to be capitalized. Ms. Purcell, you should keep your prejudices to yourself instead of further dividing the campuses. For no one I have met has a problem with your “traditions.”

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