$200 tuition but what else has changed in 50 years?

by Dorianne Sager
Student intern
Sing Tao School of Journalism

Sniffing paper fresh off the Gestetner copier is a delight most students now will never experience, so is $200 tuition fees, but was university life really so different in the decades gone by?

As part of the first class to graduate after the Second World War started, Jack Stevenson remembers the biggest worry was not whether you would find a job once you left school, it was whether you would go to war.

In 1940, fraternities and sororities were the big thing on campus -- which was slightly less crowded with a student population of little more than 2,500 people.

With no campus pub, the old Hotel Vancouver, which stood where Eaton's is now, was the popular hangout for university students. Tuition fees rested in the low hundreds.

A graduate of Engineering in the tumultuous '60s, John Ritchie's most vivid memory is not of the upheaval caused by the Vietnam War, but the punch cards that held all his computer programs.

"It was a real disaster when you were running down the hall and tripped, dumping your punch cards on the floor and losing the whole sequence of your program," he says.

During this time the campus was in the process of expanding with a student population of more than 20,000. Buildings such as Totem Park and the Student Union Building began to spring up.

But Peter Ladner, who earned his BA in 1970, says although there have been a lot of changes in the decades after graduation there are many similarities between his generation and the students today who take up extreme idealistic causes -- something he spent much of his time doing.

Ladner also recalls the emotional tumult of his first few days at UBC.

"When I first arrived at university it was quite difficult," he says. "I was a little cog in a huge machine. All this gray concrete, shuffling from class to class, wondering what I was doing here."

Well, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.