“Is it better to have ‘skived’ and been caught, than never to have ‘skived’ at all?” [Scholastic, 09/15/1888, page 68]
If students in the 1880s-1930s maintained a Domer Dictionary, “skive,” “skiving,” and “skiver” would be among the common terms in Notre Dame vernacular. While “skiving” could refer simply to cutting class, it generally had a heavier connotation of a French leave from campus with dangers of getting caught. Since curfew was in place during these years, “skivers” at Notre Dame would sneak out of the dorms at night and headed into town without permission.
A student “skiving” out of a Corby Hall dormitory window, 1914-1915
Once in town, students would frequent popular hangouts such as Hullie and Mike’s Cigar Store or Jimmie and Goat’s restaurant or take in a vaudeville show at the Orpheum Theatre. The typical punishment for skiving seems to be demerits, which students could work off with manual labor such as shoveling snow.
Skiving was so common-place it was often the subject of short stories, poems, Scholastic news items, and tall-tales of the alumni. The following sonnet was published in the 1913 Easter issue of Scholastic (page 382):
Sonnet on the Skiver
WHAT is a skiver? He is one that knows
Each alley, lane, and back street in town;
To him the campus scenes are dingy brown,
And all routine of class is driest prose.
His is the poet’s spirit that arose
Triumphant o’er the prefect’s sternest frown,—
That hies him off, to view a game, a gown.
To eat at Mike’s, or see the nickel shows.
‘Tis true a haunting fear lurks in his eyes.
And drives him oft within the handy door.
‘Tis true he’s never known to win the prize
Of scholarship—or e’en acquire its lore.
What will he do when life’s great tasks arrive?
Prophetic voices answer, “He will skive!”
Dome yearbook 1920: Floor plan of Sorin Hall with the best routes for skiving