Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 09:09:57 -0400
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: Rat=Freshman; Football Terms
Perhaps VMI didn't start this. This is from Scholastic Magazine, Oct.
26-31, 1942, pg. 32, col. 2:
If Richmond beats William and Mary, freshmen may abandon their "rat
caps" for the rest of the year.
Then again, perhaps it did:
1863 in Stanard Letters 9: I felt quite lonesome, there being
only a few Rats left as a guard.
[in reference to VMI]
And in what appears to the the 'freshman' sense, OED2 has an example
from 1850 in Louisiana.
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com