Student life at Baylor University thrives within the institution’s current culture, reflected in the breadth and depth of student involvement and student services types. However, during the early twentieth century when many of Baylor’s student life initiatives began, a variety of obstacles slowed the establishment and permeation of these programs within the university. Student government, though slow to take shape, allowed students’ voices to be heard and fostered student autonomy while utilizing faculty support. On the other hand, because of faculty support was inconsistent, students used athletics to increase involvement and invest in the Baylor community. Literary societies also offered an avenue for holistic development through extracurricular student activities (academic and social) and served as an opportunity for students to build up “Baylor Spirit.” This sense of belonging and community that made the University so cherished to alumni was also evident outside of the student body: alumni and the Waco community rallied together during the introduction of the homecoming celebration.
During the early formative years of student government, athletic programs, literary societies, and homecoming traditions, student torchbearer’s seized on the opportunities of the times to found organizations that served student needs for decades. Baylor campus life, outside of the traditional and rigid academic curriculum, was driven by the students and for the students. Amidst the struggles of these organizations, faculty and staff proved to be motivators for students as they pursued their passions and pioneered the movement of Baylor’s student life. Hearing the students’ dedication to their organizations and struggle to find their places outside of the classroom during the early twentieth century charts the emergence of holistic student development focus that is still present at Baylor today.
Follow links below for Students at Baylor papers:
Moving Toward Greater Autonomy : Baylor’s Students’ Self-Government Movement (by Joshua McPhatter)
Literary Societies: The Spirit of Baylor University (by Sean Rollolazo)