The Way We Were: A look back at Lawrence in the ’60s

The Lawrentian Volume 85 – Number 22 Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin Saturday, April 9, 1966Monday Night’s Student Senate meeting was a ninety-minute marathon that was remarkable for the intensity of the discussion following president Craig Harris’ reading of a memorandum from Dean Venderbush concerning the proposed change in dining hall regulations.

The committee established to consider the proposal that men be permitted to wear bluew jeans at all meals except Sunday dinner had been 6-4 in favor of the change, the student members 4-1 in favor. The committee meeting ended when the dean declared his jurisdiction over the issue and stated that he was not convinced that the change should be made.

Venderbush questioned whether or nor the Senate was the body to consider changes in dining hall regulations. He said the Senate discussion of the matter in its initial appearance was only ten minutes long and showed almost no consideration of the position favoring present regulations.

The dean went on to say that he did not feel the Senate was the body was responsible for legislating the dress regulations of the dining halls but suggested that if such a body was needed it might be established through representation of those eating in the halls in a new committe or organization.

After reading the dean’s memorandum Harris began rebuttal of the charges contained in the note, calling it an attack upon representative student government at Lawrence, an attack on the Student Senate and a demonstration of the exercise of autocratic power without consideration.

The President recommended to the Senate that it by-pass the dean and take the matter before the committee on Administration. He then threw the question open to discussion.

The discussion began and was soon somewhat diverted by a motion than an all-university referendum on the subject be held. Arguments on the entire issue tended to drift and vary, and the whole debate sometimes seemed hardly to lurch onto a new topic before it staggered on to another or stumbled back to an old idea.

Among the basic points presented in the course of the debate were that the dean was attacking the Senate; if the dean can excercise arbitrary authority on such a trivial issue in spite of student opinion expressed through the Senate, can he be expected to show any regard for the students’ voice in larger matters directly concerning them; the case for blue jeans shoudl be extended to the entire question of students’ rights to dress as they please; the issue is not regarded seriously enough; the case is one which teh Senate should and must take a strong stand on; and the case is one in which the Senate has no jurisdiction and on which it cannot take a stand.

The motion for a referendum was complicated by the suggestion that the vote not include those persons who do not eat at the dining halls. After a great amount of discussion, on everything involved in all the questions at hand and some which were not, a vote was taken establishing the referendum, and a second vote included the non-dining hall students in the balloting.

It was made clear that the intent of the officers and sponsors of the referendum is to take recommendatinos of the previous Senate meeting and the results of the referendum to the Committee on Administration.

The dean noted that the Senate should perhaps consider what its course of action would be if the committee on administration declared the matter our of its jurisdiction. Harris dismissed the subject.

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