Weighing in on the “weigh-in”

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Above is an undated photo of a Pomona College “weigh-in,” a practice distasteful to our contemporary selves but, I suspect, fairly common in a less-enlightened era: Freshmen women were compelled to allow the football team to take their height, weight and measurements.

From the college’s new history timeline: “The fall of 1972 saw the end of a dubious tradition, as a campaign by a number of the College’s women forced the football team to give up its annual practice of weighing and measuring all first-year women, often against their will. The weigh-in, as it was called, was described by some of the participants as ‘all in fun,’ but many of the women reported finding it frightening and demeaning. Negotiations between the sponsors and football team in 1972 ended in agreement that the tradition should not continue. When some members of the team tried to revive it a year later, they gave up after confrontations with other students and with Dean of Students Jean Walton.”

Good for other students and Dean of Students Jean Walton.

What I find poignant in the photo above is the woman’s expression. Seems to be a posed photo, perhaps for a yearbook or student newspaper, and thus the men look as if they’re taking only a wholesome, scientific interest in the proceedings. Yet the woman certainly appears authentically mortified, undercutting the “just for fun” nature of the photo.

When I wrote above that the practice may have been relatively common, that’s because I recall having read that my own alma mater, the University of Illinois, did something similar — not involving the football team, which is creepy, but rather employees — and keeping the index cards on file, until, like Pomona, wiser heads prevailed. I think they were called “health cards” or something like that.

Anyone recall participating in this practice, wherever you went to school?

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  • James Rodriguez

    Looks like a bunch of TSA screeners.

  • Andy

    Men should do that to their wives before they get married.

  • JohnTee

    This is the football team? Wow. I wonder what they would have done had she refused. Maybe wept . . .

    [Unpublicized perk of being on the football squad back then: You could feel up every freshman girl. -- DA]