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This article explores college hazing as a part of student culture in the 1870s using historical documents from Cornell University and the University of Michigan. These sources illustrate the conflict between students and the institutional administration over student autonomy and the role of faculty in student life, and characterize hazing as an event to test new students’ loyalties to their peers over the faculty. However, as the student body grew larger, and diversified in terms of gender and ethnicity, hazing shifted to smaller exclusive organizations, rather than a demonstration of class solidarity and rebellion against faculty. This article explores the administrative responses at Cornell and Michigan in the late 19th century by documenting reaction to a student hazing death at Cornell in 1873, and detailing an 1874 hazing incident at Michigan, after which 87 men were suspended from the institution following a confrontation involving the freshman and sophomore classes. Connections are drawn to administrative responses to hazing in the early 21st century.