For this year’s Homecoming, students are expected to have a like, super groovy Homecoming. So get out your most far out threads because on Oct. 8 it’s going to be time to boogie. But this year’s homecoming Seventies theme leads to the question: “What was Olivet College actually like during the 1970s?” Were bell bottoms and Vietnam protests flooding the streets? Could you walk 10 feet without seeing a peace sign magnet? While the 1970s were a completely different time in most aspects, at Olivet, things really weren’t that different from 2016.
During the 1970s, a lot of faculty we know and love were actually students or beginning their careers at Olivet. Current professors including Ross Bohms (’71), Mike Fales (’75) and Mike Oyster (’77) were graduating from Olivet. Recently retired professors many students know were also present: Clair Stevens (’80) began his time at Olivet as a student in the late 1970s. Fellow recently retired professors Don Rowe and Don Walker were professors during the 1970s. And Professor John Homer began his tenure as a professor at Olivet in 1979.
Aside from familiar faces, there were similar events for Comets of the past. Homecoming itself was nearly the same as in recent years, including events like Midnight Breakfast and the pre-Homecoming bonfire. In addition, the football team as 2015 MIAA co-Champions, share a similar type of success with the 1971-72 MIAA Championship men’s basketball team and the 1974 MIAA Championship football team. Similarly, the Marching Band, which started back up in 2015, was a first for Olivet in 1972. Archive materials including Oaks yearbooks and student newspapers assure that 1970s Olivetians shared many of the same concerns as Olivet College students today, such as where their tuition money was going and how specific sports teams were going to fare in their respective years.
Alas, 1970s Olivet and 2016 Olivet are definitely not identical. For example, the group we know as the Black Student Union went through two names according to 1970s yearbooks: the Afro American Student Organization and the United Black Organization. In regards to Homecoming, there used to be a Faculty vs. Dole football game and an elaborate parade during the week of the big game. For fun, Olivetians of the 1970s also attended dances with live bands, which is nearly unheard of today.
There are also several developments that Comets have their 1970s counterparts to thank for. In 1974, the building we know as the Conservatory was completed, the Inter-Society Council was revived in 1974, in 1975, soccer was brought in as a varsity sport, and in the spring of 1975, WOCR officially went on the air. From 1973 through 1974 saw students coming together in demonstrations to save the Phi Alpha Pi house when the school planned on tearing it down to make room for the Conservatory.
So yes, groovy threads and funky tunes used to rule Olivet in the 1970s, but the Olivet atmosphere wasn’t all that different. Don’t be an airhead or jive turkey next weekend, come on out for Homecoming, it’s going to be outta sight!