Student Life & Athletics
"Student life at each of our older colleges and universities has a certain character of its own. It is made up of a large body of forms and ceremonies consecrated by long observance, and rests upon a mass of traditions that have hardened through long years about the institution. The history of student life at the University of Kansas during the first quarter century of its existence must be, like the history of the University itself, a story of beginnings." So wrote Arthur Graves Canfield, professor of French language and literature, in his chapter on student life in the Quarter-centennial History of the University of Kansas.
From the outset, the University of Kansas admitted African American students, but the atmosphere was not always welcoming. While African American students highly valued the pursuit of a college degree, for the most part, students of color did not participate in the social activities of the University due to color barriers. Instead they established their own social activities, groups, and networks off campus.
Clifford Griffin in his history of the University waxes sentimental in his chapter on intercollegiate athletics noting that "once upon a time University athletics had been touchingly innocent and the school had neither football nor basketball teams." He was referring to the period between 1866 and 1890. Things began to change in December of 1899 when the Athletic Association was organized and the university's first dedicated venue for sport, McCook Field, opened in 1892.