Student Army Training Corps
Commanding officer Captain Ben Alexander and his staff of five quickly transformed the Hobart Campus into a military training facility. Coxe Hall auditorium became the mess hall and Dean Durfee’s office was converted into a kitchen. The men were housed in Medbery, Geneva, and Kent House. The lower floor of Geneva Hall housed the Orderly, Quartermaster, Surgeon, and Medical Corps men.
During the month of October, 188 men enlisted in the S.A.T.C. They performed military drill two hours a day, five days a week. The Hobart faculty, with assistance from E. E. DeLancey and G. M. B. Hawley, taught courses on physics, chemistry, surveying and map making, camp hygiene, and military law. A lecture course called Issues of the War was required for all. A mandatory study hour occurred each night from 7–9 pm in Demarest Library, Trinity, and Coxe Hall.
In a letter to a friend, Biology Professor Frank Watson wrote, “If you were to return to Hobart now, you would hardly recognize the place. To begin with we have about two hundred students and with the institution of the S.A.T.C. the whole atmosphere has changed; in many ways for the better, in some respects not so pleasant. It certainly seems strange to see the men turning out for seven o’clock breakfasts and keeping such good hours at night.”
When the war ended a month later, the city of Geneva hired the S.A.T.C. to dig a ditch on Pulteney Street in order to install a storm sewer. The men were paid $600, which they used to fund a trip to Rochester. They competed with the University of Rochester S.A.T.C. in football and military drill. Hobart won the drill but, according to the Echo, "The less said about the football game, the better for Hobart."
That evening both groups went to the Temple Theater in Rochester and saw singer and actress Sophie Tucker perform.
In late November, the S.A.T.C. received the orders to demobilize.
The group photo above was taken in the early afteroon on December 5, 1918, just after eating their last official mess of roast beef and mince pie. The men then marched back into Coxe Hall for the official discharge ceremony.
The officers and a few men who were ill stayed behind a bit longer, but by mid-month, everyone was gone, and all of the equipment had been shipped to nearby military bases and arsenals.