TAMS has always been an academically rigorous and interesting school, but life for early TAMSters looked a lot different than it does today. It’s really crazy to imagine what being a student in the 1980’s must have been like, much less one living in McConnell Hall. Luckily for us, the yearbooks and handbooks for each class of TAMS students have been preserved, and we can look to them for insight into what TAMS must have been like in its early years. The very first TAMS class graduated in the spring of 1990, and the first TAMS handbook was released in 1988. Reading through it is an interesting experience—the documentation and appeal processes (i.e. J-Board, hall director, etc…) were the same as they are now. Some of the rules that were different for the first inaugural class included:
- No students, not even seniors, were allowed to have cars on campus, unless they used it to go home for closed weekends, in which case, they had to give their keys to the staff for the rest of the semester.
- TAMS students could only date other TAMS students and required signed parental permission to spend unsupervised time with a non-TAMS member of the opposite sex.
- All students had to rent a PO box in the Union—it was a requirement of the program.
- Quiet hours start at 8pm because there used to be a mandatory study period each night from 8pm-10pm, where students had to sign in and out.
- Curfew was at 10:30pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends. No matter what your privilege level was, you had to stay in your room after curfew. If you got to the fourth privilege level though, weekday curfew was extended to 11pm.
- Although not technically a rule, McConnell used to house both TAMS and UNT students, and the Ion room on the third floor was the front office for TAMS.
- There were residence life seminars every Friday at 1pm.
- Wing meetings were at 7pm on Mondays.
- You had to sign-in or out anytime you left McConnell so that the staff knew where you were at all times.
- There was no visitation.
- Instead of clubs, there was a staff-organized co-curricular program.
- You were required to register in at least 8 elective hours over the course of the program.
The earliest TAMS yearbook was published in 1993, but I was still shocked to see how many traditions have carried over the decades. Do you remember frog night? That particular tradition started out sometime before 1992 and was originally called frog hunt. Students stopped by the front desk regularly to chat with the desk clerks, and Russ Stukel was even a fixture of student life, although he was a hall director at the time. There was the mixer, although it was called “The Dating Game,” and there was after-prom. The volleyball pit was actually a volleyball pit. Ambassadors, MHA, Dull Roar, J-Board, StuCo, and Sports Club were all already clubs. Wing representatives and housing interns helped spread news about MHA and StuCo and plan student events. The forerunners of HOPE and Naturally (Key Club and ONE Environmental Club, respectively) were active as well.
TAMS was transparently a very different place in its early years, but the spirit of TAMS was the same. Looking through the yearbooks has shown me that regardless of the particular policies affecting a class, students were always engaged and curious. The efforts of early TAMS students to create a community that fosters not only academic but also social growth still affects us today, and it is a legacy TAMS students will appreciate for decades to come.