World War I in Lawrence: KU students begin compulsory exercises

In early October, the Journal-World interviewed several University of Kansas faculty members and found many in favor of compulsory military drill for students. The policy was officially adopted a few days later at a meeting of the University Senate: “Compulsory physical exercise for every able-bodied student in the University was adopted yesterday afternoon…. This will mean that even women will be required to take some form of exercise and that a great majority of the students will be included in the term able-bodied.” (It was noted that students could receive an excused absence from an examining physician.) “Military drill will be the form of exercise to be given many of the students, it is believed. The resolutions […] were introduced by Dean Olin Templin, of the college. They approved heartily of the position taken by the federal government, as expressed by Secretary Baker, of the War Department, urgently favoring physical education at all Universities of the country for every student. Intercollegiate athletic contests will be continued but the physical development will be kept in mind at all times.”

Two weeks later, a special committee of the University Senate ruled that, in order to make time for the compulsory exercises, no classes would be held between 4 and 6 p.m., and the start of morning classes would be shifted earlier, to 8 a.m. On Oct. 29, the first day of the new schedule, “the whistle blew for all of the classes on the new schedule without a hitch,” but many students were reportedly late for their morning classes. “Just what effect this arrangement will have on the grades of the students is still a doubtful question,” the Journal-World reported.