Any person.
Any study.
Any Cornelliana.

An alumni
blog about Ezra's
University. (more)


Suggestions? Tips?




[+] Cornell News

[+] Higher Ed News

[+] Campus Pubs

[+] Alumni Interest

[+] Diversions

[+] Blogs

[+] Sports

[+] Other Places


[+] By Month

[+] By Author

Philosophical Gigolos: Cornell During the Great Depression

Morris Bishop's A History of Cornell informs that the campus experiences eighty years ago were not unlike the tough decisions facing Day Hall today.

Interestingly, the contract colleges appeared to be a little bit more stable than the endowed colleges during the Depression. Not so today:

Hard times forced painful economics everywhere . Budgets were sharply cut; promotions and raises were rare. "We are both undermanned and severely handicapped for the lack of new equipment," wrote the President in 1933. In that year came the inevitable salary cut. A 10 per cent reduction for all personnel in the endowed colleges was imposed. The state colleges took a 6 per cent cut on all salaries over $1,000, and a 20 per cent reduction in departmental allotments for instructors and assistants.

On the whole the faculty was philosophical about it. We had heard of diminutions of 40 per cent in other institutions of higher learning. The cost of living had somewhat receded, while we had enjoyed a lag of nearly four years since the coming of the depression. And at least, unlike many of our previously opulent classmates in business, we had jobs. (466)

And a story about students tenting it may not be so novel. I remember a similar story of a student living in a tarp near Fall Creek (although perhaps not due to economic necessity) when I arrived on East Hill in the fall of 2001. But reports of a male gigolo are altogether amusing:

The depression, officially inaugurated by Black Friday on the stock market, 29 October 1929, was not immediately felt in our seclusion. Bus as businesses contracted and failed, as parents found themselves jobless, as remittances dwindled, hardship came to campus. Within a year our loan funds were severely taxed. Graduating seniors had great trouble finding employers, the architects and Bachelors of Arts being worst put to it. In October 1932 it was reported that student jobs providing room and board were all taken by juniors and seniors, and that five hundred working students could find no work to do. One student was a professional dancer, nay rather a gigolo. Others worked as meatcutters, plumbers, painters, decorators. One was a tailor, one did embroidery, one gave religious talks. Four Russians formed a vocal quartet. Two boys lived in a tent by Six Mile Creek.< (491)

And the athletics program took a hit as well:

Then came the crisis. The Athletics Council, appalled by deficits, decided on January 1933 to discontinue all varsity games except basketball and some wrestling matches and to cut the salaries of staff and coached. (505)

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on January 25, 2009 (#)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)