Gettysburg College, located near the site of the storied Civil War battle, is rich in history. The school was founded in 1832 by Samuel Simon Schmucker, and was then known as Pennsylvania College. During the Civil War, many buildings on campus would provide shelter for both Union and Confederate soldiers. One building in particular, known today as Pennsylvania Hall, served as a crucial hospital during the war.
Women were first admitted to the school in 1883, and in 1921 the institution changed its name to Gettysburg College. After serving as president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower served on Gettysburg College’s Board of Trustees and wrote his memoirs in the College’s Office of Admissions.
Gettysburg’s campus stands on 200 acres of land neighboring the Gettysburg National Military Park. The institution is home to more than 60 buildings, including Musselman Library, the Sunderman Conservatory, the Infant and Child Study Center, a greenhouse, and a planetarium, with some dating back to the Civil War era. Students have plenty of places to hang out on campus.
On weekends the fraternities are where a lot of people hang out. Not only do they dominate the nightlife at Gettysburg, but during the spring they even hold events during the day. For instance, during Spring Fest, held every April, all the fraternities set up fences around their houses and host activities ranging from volleyball to horseshoes.
The Campus Union Building (also known as the CUB) is probably the most popular spot for everyday activities. It houses the school store, a small dining facility called Bullet, student mailboxes, and the coffee shop. There is a seating area adjacent to the coffee shop where a television and computers are available; people often sit here to hang out or do work while grabbing a little caffeine. Connected to the CUB is another popular hangout known as the Junction. This spot has several wide-screen televisions and a bunch of couches for lounging around. There are also booths, so folks can bring their lunch or dinner and have a comfortable place to sit. The Junction can get very crowded, especially during weekend nights when there’s a concert going on or a movie being shown.
Most freshmen and sophomores spend a good portion of their time in the dorms. The majority of dorms have a common room where people go to socialize and watch TV. Most of the time, though, people just hang out with each other in their rooms. There are almost always ten to fifteen doors open on any given hall - people just walk in and hang out. The residents of each hall tend to become very close, so much so that it no longer really matters who one’s roommate is because everyone hangs out together.
During the spring the best hangout spot is Stine Lake, a large grassy area in the middle of campus. In the spring people play Frisbee, suntan, sit on the Adirondack chairs and do homework. When Stine Lake fills up with people it’s a sure sign that spring has arrived.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is primarily known for its prominence during the American Civil War. The town was the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and of course where the Battle of Gettysburg took place. All around town are reminders of and tributes to the Civil War, making it a popular tourist destination. Gettysburg is 36 miles from Harrisburg, 55 miles from Baltimore, and 80 miles from Washington, D.C.
Despite the town’s celebrated past, there are leisure options around Gettysburg that do not involve internecine bloodshed.
The Ragged Edge, a small coffee shop that usually hosts local musicians, is a popular off-campus hangout. Lots of students sit in the Ragged Edge and enjoy the music while sipping on coffee and eating pastries.
Lincoln Diner is probably the most frequented off-campus hangout. It is a short walk from campus and open 24 hours, so you’ll often find students meeting up with friends there late at night. They serve your average diner food at reasonable prices, and Gettysburg College students are their main customers.
The Gateway movie theater is a ten-minute drive from campus and a popular place for students to travel to on weekends. This large theater shows a number of films and has an entire complex attached containing other attractions.
The Majestic Theater is another popular hangout. Owned and operated by the college, this 850-seat facility offers a diverse program of Broadway shows, classical and popular music, dance, comedy, children’s theater, and film classics. It also contains two cinemas, an art gallery, and Mamie’s Café. The theater is 83 years old and was just reopened after undergoing a $16 million renovation.
Gettysburg students take part in traditions that remind them of the institution’s heritage.
New students participate in the First-Year Walk, in which all first-years trek to the graveyard where Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Once there, they listen to speakers such as deans, the college president, and visiting dignitaries. It is an unofficial tradition for upperclass students to line the street and cheer as the first-years pass.
The Gettysburg campus contains two seals that students traditionally refrain from walking on. The first is in front of Phi Sig, one of the fraternities, and the other is in the front of Clark Field, where soccer and lacrosse are played.
On Bid Day, all of the members of a fraternity will file into accepted pledges’ rooms at an ungodly hour (i.e. 9 a.m.). Fraternity members pick pledges up and rearrange their rooms, screaming all the while. It can get very loud, with all 11 fraternities running around campus on the same day.
Bruce S. Gordon (1968), served as president of the NAACP from 2005 to 2007.
Carson Kressley (1991) is a fashion consultant and television personality on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Ron Paul (1957) is a Republican US Representative from Texas, 1988 Libertarian Party presidential nominee, 2008 candidate for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
Jerry Spinelli (1963) is the Newbery Medal-winning author of Maniac Magee.
While Gettysburg College isn’t known for having a big-ticket sports scene, the school does offer 24 athletic programs in the NCAA’s Division III Centennial Conference.
Football and basketball games are probably the most well-attended by students. Men’s sports are generally more popular as spectator sports, but the women’s volleyball and swimming teams are probably Gettysburg’s strongest squads.
The school also offers a variety of club and intramural sports that students can participate in.
Stine Lake is not actually a lake, but rather a quad outside the library where students hang out.
A Civil War-era flag flies above Pennsylvania Hall. This building was used by both Union and Confederate soldiers at various points during the Battle of Gettysburg.
The college was forced to close its Philadelphia medical school in 1861 when Southern students withdrew, leaving it without adequate revenue.
Numerous television documentary programs have filmed on Gettysburg’s campus in an attempt to investigate supposed Civil War ghosts. One of the most famous Gettysburg ghost stories is that of "Blue Boy," the alleged ghost of a young boy who froze to death on a window ledge of a dormitory on campus.
Herman Haupt, who served on the faculty from 1840-1847, was a Civil War general who ran the Union military railroad system.
The majority of Gettysburg students live on campus, and the college has a number of dormitories and apartment buildings for students to choose from. With each dorm the students learn to take the good with the not-so-good.
There are six major freshman dorms on campus, each with its own pros and cons. Three of the six, Stine, Rice, and Paul, are the oldest dorms on campus and are exactly what you’d think an old dorm would look like. The rooms are the smallest on campus, with the majority lacking air conditioning, and the two bathrooms on each hall are not in stellar condition. Yet these three dorms are located in the best areas on campus. They are within a half-minute walk from the major dining hall and are just a minute away from every major academic building.
The other three freshman dorms are much newer and it shows. The bathrooms are redone, the rooms are significantly bigger, and many are equipped with air conditioning. Yet these dorms are located the farthest from the dining hall and academic buildings, so the best way to describe the difference between the two sets of freshman dorms is “convenience versus comfort.
The main sophomore dorm, Mussleman, is where the majority of sophomores live. The rooms are fairly spacious and the common rooms allow students on each floor to watch TV or relax together. Unlike in Paul, Rice, or Stine, there is a communal kitchen on the first floor, which allows people to cook their own meals. Many sophomores boast about this living option because it is very social, allowing them to meet new people with whom they were not acquainted during freshman year.
The other two major living options on campus are usually reserved for juniors and seniors. ‘Apple’ and ‘Quarry’ offer suite-style living. There are four-, five-, and six-person suites, most containing some singles and some doubles. Each suite is equipped with a bathroom and a common room. Suites in Apple contain a full kitchen, which allows students to opt out of a meal plan if they so choose. Since Quarry’s suites only have partial kitchens, some type of meal plan is required.
There are other living options on campus, including Ice House, College Apartments, and Eagle Apartments. Juniors and seniors also fill most of these spaces. Sophomores, juniors and seniors can also choose to live in a theme house. While is rare for all of the applicants to any given house to make the cut, many sophomores try for this option.