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.
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, senior 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.