Baker House Necktie Rebellion of 1949

by Nancy DuVergne Smith on August 31, 2010

in Alumni Life, Campus Culture, Remember When...

Guest Blogger: Debbie Levey, CEE technical writer

When undergraduates moved into brand-new Baker House in 1949, Dick Holmgren ’50 remembers that changes were afoot.

Baker House residents rebel by drawing neckties on their shirts.

Baker House residents skirt the necktie requirements.

“It was much more elegant than the dorm we were used to,” Holmgren said. “In keeping with the much classier quarters, someone decided that we students should also clean up our act. So the edict went out that all student should wear coats and ties in the dining room. To us students, of course, this was an outrage. Our rights were being trampled on, to say nothing of our pocketbooks, with all the additional washing, drying, and pressing.”

In typical MIT fashion, Holmgren and his buddies decided to design their own ties “so we could claim that we WERE following the rule. Everyone got crayons or little bottles of paint, and created neckties for each other,” as shown in the photo he provided.

“As I recall, the whole episode ran out of steam soon. I think that the dining room managers gave up on the issue, and soon people looked almost as grubby as in the beginning, although maybe a little better than in the very beginning.”

Holmgren sits first on the left in the bottom row. He identifies Max Schubert ’50 and George Spencer ’51 second and third left. Joe McCluskey ’50 and Jake Bartas ’50, SM ’52 stand first and second left in the back row.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dan Swanson August 31, 2010 at 2:04 pm

In 1973 or so, somebody in the Baker student government, probably Jim Moody, decided that we should class up the dining hall. So every Friday, if you wore a jacked and a tie to dinner, you could sit at the classy table and drink complementary wine, provided by Baker. I wore an orange jacket my grandfather had worn in the 40s, a pink shirt, green tie and shorts… but I got to drink wine! I guess I was following in a venerable Baker House tradition!

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