Baylor in the ’90s

Baylor in the '90s was a magical place. Lariat File Photo

By Emma Whitaker | Reporter

Imagine a campus of big hair, bow ties and Ray Bans.The ’90s at Baylor not only brought new styles, but also new ways of thinking, as a fresh collegiate identity was being formed. Controversial topics such as dancing on campus and technological advances like the first computer lab on campus arose within the decade.

Perhaps different from the settings of “Friends” and “Seinfeld”, Baylor in the ’90s was conservative and tradition saturated. Alumna and graduate of the class of 1995, Jonelle Tucker explains the mixture between traditional Baylor and national culture back in the ’90s.

“The culture was very Christian. People that didn’t go to church on Sundays would still put on dress clothes to go to the cafeteria. If you showed up wearing athletic clothes or a tank top, you were judged,” Tucker said.

Tucker explained how, besides All-University Sing, all dancing had to be off campus.

Orlando junior Kendall Wood said it is crazy to think how the Baptist culture did not allow dancing for 151 years.

“Culture is definitely different than it was back then. If dancing was seen as promiscuous, then it makes sense why Baylor, a Baptist university, would ban it. Baylor in some ways, wants to be known as a leading university, and anything conservative seems to be seen as backwards,” Wood said.

In 1996, however, Baylor held the first dance on campus. Alumna Kristi Mouse remembers that first dance.

“I was on the front page on the Lariat. The headline said ‘Dancing at Baylor’. I was so proud. That was my sophomore year. Helicopters flew over campus. It was a huge deal,” Mouse said.

Dances were not the only events Baylor was changing. Football events began to change as well.

“Fire Up, Dress Down campaign began to get people to dress down,” Tucker said. “People were dressing so formal to football games, that Baylor started to promote casual football gear, like jerseys. This was back when the stadium was on Valley Mills.”

Mouse said it wasn’t until the ’90s that people started to dress a little more casual.

“People dressed so fancy back then. But I think the 90’s was the threshold from dressy to casual. I started to see for the first time people wearing pajama pants to school,” Mouse said.

Sorority life on campus has changed throughout the years as well. Mouse explains how sororities and fraternities ate lunch together often, marking their territory in specific areas on campus.

“We were raising money for the Panhellenic building at that time. It was built right after I graduated,” Mouse said. “Sororities were very a part of campus life, and getting lunch in the cafeteria was definitely social hour. Chi Omega would sit next to Kappa Sigma and Zeta. Sororities and fraternities would sit together to create a further sense of community.”

Yet, some situations never change. Mouse said the Baylor Police were strict on where you could park, the Noze Brothers still wrote satire, students loved to country dance at Melody Ranch on Thursday nights and freshman still jumped into the campus fountains at night.

As time passes Baylor forms its own collegiate identity still. Then Baylor President Robert Sloan aimed to make Baylor more well known among all races, religions and nationalities. Now 24 years later, Baylor feels different. Wood said that Linda Livingstone does a wonderful job combining traditional and modern mindsets into her leadership.

“I really appreciate Linda Livingstone. I think her Give Light campaign, and the way she communicates, like adding prayer to the Bear Walk, it has been clear though the little things that she is committed to her faith. It’s not like certain things are spelled out in the Bible all the time, so I think as long as Baylor is staying true to scripture, then students are open to interpretation in the grey areas,” Wood said.

According to Wood, Livingstone seems to combine her own dreams and passions for the university, to that of Baylor’s president in the ’90s, Robert Sloan. While much has changed since Baylor was in the ’90s Tucker says it still feels like home. It still feels like old Baylor.