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A common graphic theme of these freshmen broadsides was the depiction of inexperienced freshmen as babies or children. Illustrations of crying babies in diapers holding a bottle and references to babes, sucklings, and children told first-year students how sophomores viewed them. Rules commonly included prohibitions against crying, rolling hoops, and using bottles and pacifiers in classes.

The large Dartmouth poster features a less common technique. The initial words of the rules themselves form a sentence: "Listen to the words of wisdom or hasten to the terrible trough." (The trough referred to an old horse-watering tub adjacent to an old horse-tethering post on the campus green.) By 1912, the date of this poster, the tethering post had become the Senior Fence (only seniors were permitted to sit on it) and the trough was employed for dunking disobedient freshmen more often than for watering horses.