Fun Facts about East Carolina University:
1. Since its formation in 1907 as a teachers school in Eastern North Carolina, East Carolina University has undergone massive changes and seen many historical moments in its time in Greenville. The founder of East Carolina Teachers Training School was former Governor Thomas Jordan Jarvis; he once said, “This school comes nearer to being the people’s school than any other in the state ... it provides the greatest service to the greatest number of people … We can never begin to calculate the value it will be to North Carolina.”
2. As the world deals to the COVID-19 pandemic, many were reminded of another massive pandemic that occurred 100 years before 2020- the Spanish Flu. At the time, ECU was known as East Carolinas Teachers College. In Greenville, the Spanish Flu peaked in the fall of 1918, according to ECU’s heritage hall website. Churches no longer met, tobacco warehouses postponed sales and court judges postponed judicial cases. Perhaps the most notable moment of the Spanish Flu pandemic was when Pitt County Courthouse was used as an emergency hospital due to the advice of Dr. Charles O’Hagan Laughinghouse, ECTC’s first campus doctor.
3. In 1923, the first campus newspaper emerged, called the East Carolina Teachers College News. Soon students joined in the production of the campus newspaper, renaming it the Teco Echo. Formed by virtually all female students, President Robert H. Wright of ECTC approved the paper,the first editor-in-chief was Deanie Boone Haskett, with the business manager being Frances Smith.
4. In the 1960s, protests and civil rights movements were taking off. ECU wasn’t far behind in terms of desegregation. The student newspaper, The Fountainhead, published this in early 1961: “There is no longer any real question concerning school integration. Any questions … have already been answered by federal court orders and by successfully integrated schools. Those die-hard southerners who insist on participating in contemporary ‘Greek tragedy’ will be the ones who suffer most from this point on… we pledge the support of The East Carolinian (and hope the student body will follow) to meet and accept in a rational, civilized manner the wave which is sure to come.”
5. Robert Olewine is the Assistant Director for Campus Visits at ECU. One of his favorite facts about ECU relates to a tradition at football games that began in 1967.
“At the start of every football game, a cannon is fired to symbolize the beginning of a battle. This began in 1967, and in 1984 the staff decided to fire a cannon every time a player scored to boost crowd morale. This has become a large tradition at ECU, making the teams entrance and all quarters of the game very interesting and unique,” Olewine said.
6. In 1970, ECU students began protesting the Vietnam War after the deadly attack at Kent State. Over 1000 students marched on the campus mall, walking towards the campus flagpole and demanding it be lowered to half mast. President of the University, Leo Jenkins, walked with the students after they protested outside of his office. He contacted the governor for approval to lower the flag, but ultimately lowered it to half mast himself. The Fountainhead (ECU’s student newspaper at the time) published a cartoon of Jenkins, calling it ‘a newfound sense of unity’. The student newspaper later changed its name to The East Carolinian.
7. In 1975, a ‘riot’ broke out in downtown Greenville, near popular clubs “The Elbow Room” and “The Attic.” A crowd congregated late at night and blocked traffic. When Greenville police gave them time to disperse and the crowd did not comply, riot gear was brought out and pepper gas and tear gas canisters were thrown into the crowd. Voted as the news story of the year by the ECU student newspaper, this incident is widely accepted to have sparked ECU’s “party school” reputation.