Catholicism, The Quadrangle and a Feud Over a “69”

by Sophia SakellariouProduction Editor

Representing one’s graduating year is a symbol of the pride and sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a college degree. The numbers emblazoned on a shirt or sweatshirt mark the time when all of the hard work students put in day in and day out will finally pay off. However, this was not the case for the freshman class of 1969, when sweatshirts with the phrase “Manhattan 69” were banned by Brothers of the college and mayhem ensued.

Members of the freshman class made the sweatshirts for their graduating year, but faced great backlash when Brother Barnabas Edward discovered that “69” is a slang expression for a common sexual practice. This would just not stand at a prestigious Catholic institution such as Manhattan so Brother Edward asked Brother Calixtus Eugene, the freshman class moderator at the time, to put an end to the sweatshirt sales. A meeting was organized in Smith Auditorium to carry out the task.

The meeting quickly went South when Brother Eugene ordered Quadrangle staffers, the Editor-in-Chief and two reporters, to leave. The freshman Quadrangle staffers were able to stay. During the course of the meeting, a Quadrangle photographer entered the auditorium and tried to take a photo of Brother Eugene.

“I wouldn’t take that picture, sonny. Your buddies were in here before. If you were here on time, you would have been thrown out with the others. Beat it, buster,” said Brother Eugene to the photographer.

The adamant dismissal of Quadrangle staff enraged those who were barred from the meeting and prompted op-eds of outrage from the dismissed staffers. John McFarland, a Quadrangle reporter wrote a piece entitled “The Time Has Come,” that outlined five missteps of the administration surrounding the sweatshirt ban.

“[The regulation] was the most minor of the mistakes of the administration. It merely showed arrant stupidity. Just what is so horrid about a little double entendre, and isn’t the resulting notoriety a lot more embarrassing than the existence of the sweatshirts?” wrote McFarland.

He then ridiculed Brother Eugene’s “psych job” of a meeting that was a “tour de force of intimidation,” leaving freshman officers in a state of terror. In regards to the dismissal of the Quad staff, McFarland argued that Brother Eugene was merely interested in “keeping the Quadrangle from airing the college’s dirty laundry,” and was more interested in avoiding embarrassing publicity than correcting moral wrongs.

Brother Eugene made references throughout the meeting that his position as freshman moderator was akin to that of a father of a family. As such, he did not think “there [was] any father who would see his son wearing one of these sweatshirts and not slap him down.”

The meeting resulted in a detailed policy on how to address the problem. Brother Barnabas Edward came to the conclusion that students must abide by the following alternatives:

“Manhattan College” may only appear on sweatshirts marked “1969”

Shirts may have “69” with an apostrophe before the “6,” but “Manhattan College” may not appear on them

Shirts with only “69” on them may not be worn on campus

Brother Eugene concluded the meeting with the statement, “You won’t be a complete man until you feel the grinding foot of discipline.”

Joe Liggio contributed reporting.