Panty Raids!

Panty Pirates Headline

How do you plan to spend your summer session?

On vacation?


Hitting the books?


On May 21, 1952, twenty-one male students decided to start their summers with a panty raid on sorority houses and women’s dormitories. A week later,  Dean of Men Geary Eppley stated in The Diamondback that he found several men admiring their nylon and silk “trophies” in Calvert Hall. Eppley claimed that one woman in the Margaret Brent dormitory “had her evening gown torn to pieces… At the Kappa Kappa Gamma house one coed lost $56 worth of underclothing, and other lost $122 in underwear.”

As punishment for stealing the ladies’ lingerie, three men were suspended for one year, and one could not return until June 1953. The rest of the raiders were suspended for one semester and permitted to return the following February.

These raids were not unique. In response to the wave of panty raids overtaking college campuses that summer, The Baltimore Sun  reported on May 28, 1952, that the U.S. Senate received demands that “panty raiders,” including those at the University of Maryland, lose their draft deferment and be sent “to do some raiding in Korea!”

The students did not learn their lesson. On May 8, 1956, male students carried out yet another panty raid.

Tumultuous mobs of underwear seekers thronged to the women’s dorms, crawled through windows and emerged later wearing step-ins, slips and other items of personal apparel. – The Diamondback, May 17, 1956

One student who had already broken into the women’s dorm egged on his fellow students, shouting “You’re chicken if you don’t come in!” The women responded by pouring water and throwing housecoats and blankets on their assailants. One woman reported, “You couldn’t stop them! I pulled his ears off — you just couldn’t stop them!” The raiders progressed through Caroline, Queen Anne’s, Anne Arundel, and St. Mary’s Halls before speeding along to the sorority houses. Dean Eppley speculated that the raid was spontaneous and started after students on the upper floors of men’s dorms started bombarding a Spring Week sound truck with water bags.

They’ve taken everything from one of the girls except her socks. – coed quoted in The Diamondback, May 17, 1956

We hope you enjoy this  brief editorial in which the Diamondback staff lamented the unfavorable publicity caused by the 1956 panty raid!

Page 3
One student’s response to the 1956 Panty Raid.

You can find more information about the 1950s panty raids in the correspondence of UMD President Harry “Curley” Clifton Byrd.

The Diamondback provides a crucial student perspective on student activities on campus, including these two infamous panty raids. As the university’s primary student newspaper, Diamondback reporting is essential to the history of the University of Maryland. The University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper, which is now currently available on microfilm.Thanks to generous donors and our successful Launch UMD campaign, The Diamondback will be online and searchable in 2016.

This post is the eighth in a series by graduate student assistant Jen Wachtel, who is collecting data for the Diamondback Digitization Project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on the blog for previous posts, and look for her posts every other Monday.



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