Forbidden Love
Early Trinity students find a way for romance
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The graduating class of 1899 posing on rocks in Tehuacana

The graduating class of 1899 poses on the very rocks in Tehuacana where they used to hide love notes for each other.

In the 1890s, a series of regulations came out specifying how students should dress and behave in response to concerns expressed by the Board of Trustees. These rules prevented students from leaving campus without prior approval and required them to attend chapel service each week. However, the most unpopular restriction was Rule Nine: male and female students were not allowed to communicate with each other.

“Students of the opposite sex are strictly forbidden all communication with each other of every kind; and they are considered under this rule from time of their arrival at the University until they leave.” -Rule Nine

To students, Rule Nine represented the ultimate challenge of their undergraduate career, and their efforts to circumvent the regulation became cherished contributions to Trinity’s student folklore.

Segregated seating arrangements made contact difficult, but not impossible. Students passed notes in church and the classroom across the aisle. One venturesome senior, who was teaching a class for an indisposed professor, borrowed a book from a female student and returned it several days later with a love note tucked inside.

Other opportunities for meetings occurred on Sundays after morning services when students entertained themselves by taking long walks, often ending at the local cemetery, which offered a panoramic view of the countryside. Young men and women left their boarding houses separately but managed to end up "accidentally" at the cemetery away from the prying eyes of adults. The rocky Tehuacana campus also gave students a variety of places for a strategically placed love note.

If the note was intercepted, students risked receiving a demerit, or even expulsion. For many, this was a risk they were willing to take.

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