IN 1876, Johns Hopkins University's first freshmen...


IN 1876, Johns Hopkins University's first freshmen had no electric lights; many burned oil, past midnight. In 1993, ceiling lights are on and screens are lit arounnd the weekday clock -- in Krieger Hall's computer lab. Fifty Macs, 35 or so PCs; no reserved machines, just sit down and log in.

Of course, many members of the new, largest-yet Class of '97 brought their own along: sound system here, word system there. What with modems and networks, maybe a few have gone back to the ways of 1876 -- messaging home, instead of phoning collect. How many fax machines beside the VDTs? No data.

The lights stay on all night in Gilman Hall reading room; at the main library, Q and M levels close now at 2 a.m. instead of midnight. The library's 5-cent copiers (photos and highlighting sure beat note-taking) are a bargain. Smoking: in dorm rooms only, and if agreed upon. Under age 21, no beer (state law).

For the fit, 13 male varsity sports, 12 female, two male/female. For those who like seeing their words or cartoons in print, three campus weeklies: the News-Letter (founded 1897; 18 pages), the Standard (founded 1993; 12 pages), the Gazette (12 pages; authority's voice). JHU has never taught journalism; its trial-and-error has produced such as Richard Harding Davis, J. Hamilton Owens, J. Murray Kempton, Philip Hamburger, Neil A. Grauer, Richard Ben Cramer, Charles H. Dorsey, Corbin Gwaltney -- and Masterpiece Theater's new master of ceremonies.

Homewood's bookstore and dining hall are, as on many campuses, outsider-operated. JHU wrinkles? He or she who treads upon its seal in large brass replica on Gilman's floor will, in the exam or test next ahead, fail. Homecoming Day is not in autumn (football) but spring (lacrosse). While home games are free-admission, at lacrosse you pay. And, the annual, student-run (Milton S.) Eisenhower Lectures. This year's topic: "Human Sexuality."

To the Class of '97: look not down on outsiders, sleep sometimes, laugh often, work.

And respect one another.

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