Image of a white nurse's cap from the 1940s.

Membership Card, 1940

Ink on paper.
Gift of Caroline Dial McKissick
2014.19.88

Membership Card, 1941

Ink on paper.
Gift of Caroline Dial McKissick
2014.19.89

Today’s Gamecock Club prides itself on “bridging the gap between philanthropy and fandom.” Its purpose is to provide financial support to all student athletes. The original Gamecock Club was founded in 1939 as the “Buck-A-Month” Club, but its goals were slightly different. B.A.M. members swore to advocate for the University to state legislators, as well as work to recruit incoming students. As athletics took an increasingly prominent role in the last 20th century, the Gamecock Club was formed to support the athletic department.

Extracurricular Activities

 

Through the 1980s, women regularly participated in beauty pageants on campus, most notably the annual May Queen competition. However, not everyone supported pageantry. A female student group calling themselves the Grimké Sisters Union protested a 1970 pageant held at the basketball coliseum for “exploitation of the human body.” To quiet the group, security guards threatened arrest for loitering and being a public nuisance.

Women were also instrumental in publishing journals. From 1977 – 1978, Auntie Bellum: A New South Carolina Journal for Women, a feminist magazine, featured art, poetry, and investigative reporting. In 2015, the magazine was revived as Unsweetened: Voices from a Feminist South.

Through Greek life, many women have grown personally and professionally, developed leadership skills, built strong friendships, and served the community. At UofSC, the Multicultural Greek Council oversees six culturally based sororities and fraternities; the National Pan-Hellenic Council oversees eight historically African-American sororities and fraternities, and the College Panhellenic Association oversees thirteen historically white sororities. Today’s twenty sororities are home to thousands of members.

Homecoming

Homecoming is an annual event that dates back to the 19th century. Colleges and universities participate in this ritual of welcoming back alumni to celebrate the school for which they hold fond memories. Current students participate in a variety of activities including dances, banquets, choral and band performances, and a parade. Week long activities culminate in a football game where a homecoming queen and king are crowned.

 

Student organizations nominate a slate of contestants for queen and king whom they feel have made substantial contributions to the school through academics, leadership, and service. The student body casts secret ballots to determine the winner. The day before the football game, a parade is held in which members of student organizations built floats based on a specific theme. Classes are cancelled so that all can attend the parade, which is essentially a mobile pep rally. The football team often plays a weaker opponent to ensure a win. Tailgating prior to the game is a popular activity where alumni can congregate, reconnect, and celebrate.

May Day and the May Queen

 

May Day celebrations date back to antiquity as a way to honor Maia, the goddess of fertility. The purpose was to recognize the midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

Women’s colleges in the United States were the first to celebrate May Day, beginning in the 19th century. Co-educational institutions adopted the unofficial holiday as well.

Beginning in the 20th century at UofSC, Kappa Kappa Sigma, an honorary service fraternity, held a beauty pageant to select a May Queen. Contestants participated in a pageant held in March, where finalists were chosen. The student body voted during spring elections in April, and the queen was crowned in early May. The student with the most votes became the queen, and the runner-up was the maid on honor. The daylong event included an awards program, a luncheon or banquet, the crowing of the queen by the University President, followed by a dance. With changes to the academic calendar, and the semester ending the last week in April, May Day celebrations were replaced with end-of-year ceremonies, including graduation.

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One Family, Two Queens

Ann Gray Loadholt and her daughter, Elizabeth Ann Loadholt, are multi-generational homecoming queens at the University of South Carolina. Ann was the 1964 homecoming queen, and Elizabeth Ann was crowned in 1990. Growing up, Elizabeth Ann kept a framed picture of her mother in the 1964 homecoming parade by her bedside. Being voted homecoming queen was a dream come true for her.

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Sorority Life

UofSC is home to 20 social sororities or Greek letter organizations. Each varies in purpose, but all have a philanthropic service mission to uphold and high academic standards to which they must comply. Other commonalities include secrecy of traditions, same sex membership, and membership selection based on a rigorous vetting system, ownership of a house or occupancy in a dorm where members can congregate and live, and an adherence to a code of conduct. Through lifetime membership, sisters can build a network to serve them in their careers after graduation.

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