McGaffigan’s DSP pledge class | Col­legian

“Gossip Girl”: a show that reached countless viewers, grossed mil­lions of dollars, earned endless praise. Too bad the drama of Gossip Girl couldn’t hold a candle to the HOT tea spilled in the Col­legian, circa 1938.

I’m talking about “Campus Capers”: a column so juicy, so scur­rilous, that even 80 years later the reader can still feel the burn of the author’s scathing tone.

“What East Hall brunette found out to her wide-eyed dismay, that the fire escape was locked one dark night (after 10 o’clock)?” the Campus Capers asked in Sep­tember of 1936 in a random, mid-column interlude. That East Hall brunette knows exactly who she was. Finding her identity for the rest of us may be more important to me than fin­ishing this article right now.  

You want names? Don’t you worry. Campus Capers pro­vides first, middle and last. Some­times even Con­fir­mation names graced the page of this hal­lowed gossip column. Running from Sep­tember 1936 to Feb­ruary 1939, the anony­mously authored Campus Capers seemed to know the details of every party, every date, and even the lunchroom chatter.

“Cas­sanova McGaffigan is on the loose again. He was seen at the Little Theatre with a fair young thing and later at the tavern with M.G. Stone,” the Caper reported in December of 1936. Classic McGaffigan, thinking he could get away with cheating on Stone. Little did he know the Campus Capers was recording his every move.

Even faculty were not safe from the Campus Caper’s unstop­pable scathe. In Feb­ruary 1937, the author wrote, “Prof. Davidson was given a box of cigars. Thursday night he decided to get rid of them at the Delta Sig house. When he left the boys were found lying in the hall.” That’s no way to get tenure, Mr. Davidson.

But accu­sa­tions don’t stop there. “Bobby Simpson again crashed through with an almost arrest. How many times is it, Bobby,” the Caper com­mented in March of ’38. The scandal, the smear, the slander. All from a bitter Hills­dalean sitting at his type­writer wearing a three-piece suit.

And Campus Capers didn’t just spread gossip. This talk of the town was also a poet. In March of 1938, the Caper com­posed this trea­sured piece: “Roses are red,/violets are blue,/sugar is sweet,/and that’s why I like salt on my potatoes.” This was poetry book­ended by one-liners that ruined rep­u­ta­tions. Even Robert Frost wasn’t capable of this lit­erary dom­i­nation.

And just when you thought Campus Capers couldn’t get any better, the news­paper pulled the plug on it. The column ended in a breath-taking fashion.The last four lines of the Feb­ruary 1939 issue read: “Now I sit me down to cram/to study for this darn exam,/And if I cannot learn this junk,/I pray the Lord I still won’t flunk.”


  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    There have been other inde­pendent papers more recently as well but the admin­is­tration threatened to expel the stu­dents for this free speech.