Hendrix Traditions: Shirttails (Post 2 of 3, see Post 1 here)
Shirttails Serenade & Long Shirt Short Shorts (1950-1999)
In 1956, Shirttails changed dramatically when a new men’s dorm was built on campus, Couch Hall. With the addition of a new men’s dorm, Shirttails quickly became a competitive event and the competition became even fiercer when Hardin Hall was built in 1964. In 1966, the Conway police threatened Couch men with indecent exposure and there have been several instances of the police threatening to drag Hendrix men if the noise level on campus was not controlled.
The idea that women should equally participate in Shirttails did not surface until the late 1970s. In 1981, Long Shirt Short Shorts, the women’s version of Shirttails, debuted and was an immediate success. It wasn’t long, however, before faculty and students alike started voicing concerns about the new tradition. In 1986, The Profile noted that, “the event has degenerated into a competition to see which dorm can perform the sleaziest and most sexually suggestive routine.” The discussion about the nature of shirttails and the pressure that freshmen faced to participate in it has become a perpetual hot topic on campus, even today.
In an attempt to address the concerns of sexual harassment and excessive competition, in 1997, Student Senate released an entirely new policy on Shirttails that eliminated the competition and tightened restrictions on wardrobe. Students were outraged. After a heated few years of discussion, the competition aspect of Shirttails was re-instated, but the other new policies regarding dance moves and wardrobe stayed in place. Over the years, the regulations have become even tighter, but the spirit of the competition and the bonding that freshmen feel during it is the reason the tradition has prevailed for so long despite the controversy.
In next Tuesday’s post, we’ll be posting a collection of photos that didn’t quite make the cut for these two posts, plus a couple more fun facts about Shirttails!
Item 00769: Female freshmen practice a shirttails performance
Item 00770: Female freshmen in Shirttails dress practice
Item 00764: Male freshmen in Shirttails dress preparing for a Shirttails Serenade
Item 00765: Male freshmen during a Shirttails Serenade to one of the women’s dorms
“Tradition Scarred.” The Profile (Hendrix College). 2 October 1987.
Moore, Amanda. “A Short History of Shirttail Serenade.” Hendrix College Archives. 5 March 2008.