Sewanee is a tiny Tennessee town (native population about 500) that is home to The University of the South, an equally small Episcopalian liberal arts college (attendance about 1500 students). The town is often confused with the Suwannee River that runs through Georgia and Florida. The town is located in the foothills of the southern Cumberland Plateau, midway between Nashville (to the North) and Chattanooga (to the Southeast).
Some interesting facts about Sewanee:
- The informal name of The University of the South is "Sewanee".
- The University once held the top spot in Playboy's list of the best party schools in America for five years running. It was finally removed with the following note: "Sorry, Sewanee, but professional drinkers are not included in this list."
- In 1994, the Vice Chancellor of the University banned kegs from on-campus parties.
- The Bishop of Tennessee is the Chancellor of the University.
- The first Chancellor considered naming the college the University of the Universe.
- During the Civil War (1865), the entire college was razed by the Union Army. All that was left was the cornerstone of the original chapel.
- The University's theatre program was the beneficiary of much of the estate of Tennessee Williams and recently completed construction of a new theater complex.
- There is a student run college radio station that broadcasts at 50 watts, WUTS.
- The University owns approximately 10,000 acres of land in and around the town proper. This is called the Domain. There are two entrances to the Domain from Highway 24. Both are guarded by 15 foot stone pillars referred to as the Gates. Upon passing through the Gates, one is supposed to tap the roof of the vehicle. If leaving the Domain, this is a request to one of the Sewanee Angels to accompany you on your journey. If returning to the Domain, the tap is a thank you to the Angel and lets it know that it can return to heaven.
The University's student population is fairly diverse. Many students come from the Southern States; however, a few come from around the United States and other countries. It is most well known for its English department, which boasts many great names in the upper echelon of the literary world. The department publishes the Sewanee Review, a highly respected and well known literary journal.
With little in the way of the metropolitan (e.g. shopping, movies, museums, etc.), drinking, sex, and smoking marijuana make up the majority of the entertainment. There are many fraternities and sororities on campus, though the sororities are local only. "Greek Life" plays a major role in social interchange on campus. Participation in the Greek system is far from mandatory; most fraternities are more than willing to accept non-members just as they host sororities (the sororities do not have their own houses).
Some other interesting, if tangential, facts about Sewanee and Tennessee:
- Jack Daniels whiskey is made in a dry county.
- The favorite beer on the Sewanee campus was Falstaff until around 1994. This unpasteurized beer was outlawed in the state of Tennessee - for sale or consumption. A case of 24 16 Oz. bottles cost $6. The brewery paid for returned bottles, so 6 full cases returned to the place of purchase equalled a new case of beer.
- It is illegal to carry a firearm into any place of business that sells alcohol.