By Ashley Shuler
If you thought campus was crazy now, get this: in the spring of 1966, approximately 100 male Franklin College students executed a panty raid on Elsey Hall, an all girl’s dorm at the time.
The boys—who had a goal of stealing panties and causing commotion—broke in a side door and entered some of the girls’ bedrooms.
They were reportedly running around the building for 15 minutes—some wearing stocking masks—before the dean at the time, Dwight Klinck, and Franklin Police showed. The president, who was away at a convention, didn’t respond.
Five students, two seniors and three freshmen, were suspended for the rest of the year for taking part in the raid and for being in a girls’ dorm past curfew.
Students responded in a big way.
Shortly after the suspension was announced, a small group of students burned a stuffed look-a-like dummy of the dean from the flagpole in the center of campus.
They deemed the suspension unfair, as only five of the nearly 100 students involved were in trouble.
The night after the burning, about 250 students—almost two-thirds of the student body—marched to the downtown courthouse in a torchlight parade. The senior student council president led the march.
A sophomore student acted as a spokesperson for the body, standing on the top of a car downtown and criticizing the dean for his decision.
According to an April 1966 article in The Franklin, the students banded together at the march and prepared a list of grievances for the dean. He didn’t budge.
In the following days, frustrated male students tried to orchestrate panty raids. A writer for The Franklin called the raids “another failure,” although the men were successful in grabbing a few unmentionables before dorm staff quickly put down the uprising.
A second letter, written by a student committee, was delivered to the college’s president at the time, Wesley N. Haines, after his early return from the convention later that week.
The letter resulted in successfully reinstating four of the five the students.
One student violated his disciplinary probation and was not reinstated.
The reinstated students remained on disciplinary probation for the rest of the year. The three freshman students were to remain on probation for the next year, too.
But the news doesn’t stop there.
At a meeting the same day as the reinstatement, Dean Klinck suffered from a stroke.
In the April 9, 1966 edition of The Franklin Star, a local newspaper, it is reported “Klinck remained in critical condition at Methodist Hospital after suffering an apparently massive stroke. … The stroke is said to have been caused by the tremendous amount of stress the dean had been under during the President’s leave.”
The panty raid trend hit Franklin a little later than the rest of the nation. The trend dates back to 1949, when pranksters at Augustana College in Illinois made headlines in the Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine and the New York Times.
The papers describe a situation were about 125 men entered a women’s dormitory. The first round snuck in through heating tunnels below the building. The men cut the phone lines and lights and locked the dorm’s “housemother” in her apartment. None of the pranksters were charged.
According to an article published by Time Magazine in 1952, panty raids spread to 52 campuses across the nation. The magazine called them the “newest and noisiest” college craze.