AU makes deal with military and defuses bombs


This week in 1942, AU signed a contract with the War Department that allowed the government office to use office space in Hurst Hall for its Division for the Selection and Procurement of Instructional Materials. The office space had previously been used as the school's bookstore, but was vacant since the store relocated.

The original Eagle article reporting the move stated "the addition of these offices to AU is another step in the University's conversion to the war (WWII) effort. AU now is contributing not only its educational facilities toward better preparing its students for the victory but is also giving its office space that the full prosecution of the war for total victory may be attained as soon as possible."

By February of 1943, AU was home to seven governmental offices including the Naval Bomb Disposal School and a local Draft Board headquarters. The Feb. 24 Eagle featured a half-page spread that oozed propaganda. Under the headline "University Grows During War Years" the article explained what specific offices were housed on campus and said that 50 percent of men enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences were also enrolled in the reserve program of the armed forces. There was no comment from students who had signed up, only a sentence stating that the "boys" were eager to get back to school following their term of duty.

The closing paragraph's seeming purpose was to validate the government's presence on campus, explaining that the Naval Bomb Disposal School had one of the most important jobs on campus, though not detailing why. The article was a far cry from AU in the 1960s and early '70s when the FBI put agents on campus to monitor the activities of student publications and anti-war student groups.

ALSO THIS WEEK ...Freshmen in Years Past

You are a freshman. The plus points are not working, neighbors never sleep, voicemail is eating the messages and where exactly is Asbury Hall? Additional problems would not be welcome. But in an era before instant messages and co-ed dorms, incoming freshmen in the Class of 1941 were required to wear small green hats, ribbons and ID tags during AU's annual Freshmen Week. Additionally, a Freshmen Rules Committee decided that new female students would not be permitted to wear cosmetics during that week.

Don't feel like going to the gym? It could be part of your class schedule. In 1942, AU upped the now nonexistant physical education requirement for men from 6 to 8 credit hours on top of the 120 credit hours required to graduate.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle