If you are walking from Denny Chimes to the Ferguson Student Center, nestled to the left of Gorgas Library sits a small, round building.
Inconspicuous? Yes, but its presence on the University of Alabama campus is in some ways an intentional reminder of what this campus used to be.
After surviving the Civil War and becoming an infirmary in the late 1800s, the all-male honorary, The Jasons, made the Little Round House its home in 1933. “Jason’s Shrine,” as it is sometimes referred to today, was the home base for the society for over 40 years until the society was banned from campus in the late 1970s after violating Title IX laws.
“At the CW, we were all for Title IX,” said the CW’s 1976 sports editor and 1977 editor-in-chief, Mark Mayfield. “I am trying to think back to see if [there was] anybody on the Editorial Board who objected to what we tried to do, and I don’t remember that. We were supportive of it, and we were pretty loud about it for the period of time I was at The Crimson White.”
In the fall of 1977, the CW reported that The Jasons would be meeting with University officials to discuss the society’s lack of female members. This came at an intriguing time for the campus, as changing gender roles along with the second wave of feminism fought for gender equality.
“When I was editor, both as a copy editor and as an editor-in-chief, we had rapes on campus that we covered aggressively, and I don’t think that was done to the extent it was done in the mid- to late-70s and on into the 80s,” Mayfield said. “We demanded that the University do something about it.”
Mayfield continued by stating the coverage of The Jasons prohibited him from receiving a bid into the society. During that time, The Crimson White’s male editors-in-chief traditionally were tapped into the society, but that trend stopped with Mayfield. He said he “[wore] it like a badge of honor” when he was not chosen for the society.
Due to intense coverage of The Jasons and other Title IX issues, the University continued to make changes to campus in order to further integrate women into The University of Alabama. In the fall of 1979, the Student Government Association began voting on new dorms that would house both men and women.
As the 1980s approached, Mayfield noted that the shift in gender roles began to receive some resistance. However, the coverage brought gender issues to the forefront for students of the University.
“It’s strange, and I don’t have any science to back this up, but during that part of the 70s, it was more progressive,” Mayfield said. “I think it went backward some a decade later, weirdly enough. There was kind of a conservative backlash on certain things, and I’m not talking just politically.”
The coverage of The Jasons and Title IX laid the groundwork for future writers for The Crimson White. It placed an emphasis on treating this newspaper as an actual publication and not degrading it because it was produced by students.
James Benedetto is a graduate student studying journalism. He is also the Assistant Sports Editor for the Crimson White.