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Students' Army Training Corps


As America entered World War I the U.S. War Department inaugurated the Students’ Army Training Corps, a program designed to use existing colleges and universities as training facilities for new military personnel. Instructors were to be hired under a temporary contract, with the universities and colleges subsequently reimbursed by the government for the added expense of providing facilities and staff for the Corps. Witter Bynner was one of the first instructors hired by the Dept. of English at Cal. Though a poet is a odd choice for a military instructor, the War Department was very specific about its expectations concerning Berkeley’s S.A.T.C. cadets: “Instructors are urged to require that members of the S.A.T.C., when reciting in the class-room, shall stand at attention and shall speak with clearness and decision. Instructors should require that enunciation be distinct and the pronunciation of words correct. The possession of these qualities of speech is regarded as of military importance.”

Upon his arrival at Berkeley, Bynner was interviewed by the Daily Cal about the challenges of his new teaching position. “One of the few good things lacking in American people and especially those of the West,” he explained “is clear enunciation.” The student reporter felt compelled to mute this slur against lazy-tongued Californians by adding, “[Professor Bynner] offset this statement by acknowledging this campus to be beyond comparison with any campus in eastern universities.”

Read More About It

  • Records of the University of California Students Army Training Corps, 1918-19, The University Archives, University of California, Berkeley, CU-390

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