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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Packing it in

Graphic+by+Kelly+Smith+19.
Graphic by Kelly Smith ’19.

What students brought for college 30 years ago


College life continues to change year by year. Although first year students have been moving into Saint Joseph’s University’s LaFarge Student Residence and Sourin Residence Center for more than 30 years, the items they bring with them have drastically changed since then.

Today, students’ packing lists include modern necessities like televisions and mini fridges, as well as trends like tapestries and Christmas lights. Dorm décor and the latest technology are top priorities today, but what were students bringing to college 30 years ago?

Bill Healy ’82, director of major gifts in the Office of University Advancement, described his campus life experience as being simple and unregulated.

“I think I literally showed up with two to three large trash bags of clothes,” Healy said. “Kids now have more stuff in their backpacks [today] than I had in my dorm.”

Even after mentioning how little he  packed, Healy said that, as an athlete on the basketball team, he had much more than most students, meaning extra sneakers and gym clothes. 

“It was pretty bare bones,” Healy said. “We all just brought basic stuff like T-shirts and jeans.”

urprised to hear about the list of restricted items students must follow today, as he did not remember any regulations about what students could and could not pack during his time at St. Joe’s. Today, many prohibited items on the first-year packing list created by the Office of Residence Life regard fire hazards, such as electrical cooking appliances.

“We had grills out on the porch at Jordan [Hall] and working fireplaces,” Healy said. “I also had a popcorn maker that you pour oil into. I would make popcorn almost every night.”

Oil popcorn poppers are now specifically named on the list of restricted items, along with grills and toasters.

“It was a different era,” Healy said. “They really were simpler times.”

After speaking with a group of freshmen about college life 30 years ago, many of them could not imagine college as Healy had described it.

“A requirement for the business school is to have a laptop,” Francis Creagh ’21, said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have one.”

Unlike today, Healy said that there were no laptops as technology was not a top priority.

The first-year students said that their modern day essentials included interesting dorm decorations, Apple brand devices and name-brand clothing and accessories, such as Ray-Ban sunglasses. They listed these items as ones that are considered “cool” on campus.

Owning certain brands was not as vital as it is now, according to Healy.

“Everyone still wanted to be cool,” Healy said. “But not about technology, really. If you had a really nice stereo and a lot of albums, that was cool.”

While current students were shocked by the differences between now and the 1980s, they liked the idea of having little restrictions. Many of them wished they could have appliances that were allowed while Healy attended St. Joe’s.

Both eras may have their pros and cons, but it’s still intriguing to think that St. Joe’s students had a completely different picture of campus life just a few decades ago.

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