40th Anniversary of the Approval of the Student Bill of Rights

The Student Bill of Rights was printed in the April 14, 1970 edition of the Emmanuel Focus. Click to zoom in and read the Bill of Rights.

The Student Bill of Rights was printed in the April 14, 1970 edition of the Emmanuel Focus. Click to zoom in and read the Bill of Rights.

The passage of the Student Bill of Rights occurred at a time when there was an increased demand for greater academic and social freedoms on campus. This demand manifested itself in several ways. In the winter of 1969 commuter students, in an attempt to deal with the cold weather, wanted to wear slacks that were not allowed under student regulations. Meanwhile, resident students through their inter-dormitory council conducted a referendum on student determined curfews. Ninety-one percent (91%) of voting students answered “yes” to the question: “Should students determine their own curfew system by vote?” Faced with these challenges to its authority the Emmanuel College Administration relaxed its regulations and by March 1969 commuters were allowed to wear slacks and resident students were given permission to set their own curfews by vote in the spring by the incoming sophomore, junior and senior classes for the next academic year.

Once this was accomplished students had an increasing desire to play a greater role in College governance, however when Sr. Marie Barry was appointed president without student consultation they protested by wearing arm-bands. Inspired by and participation in the anti-war and feminist movements the students found another way to register their objection over centralized authority at Emmanuel—a candle light vigil and a non-coercive strike of classes (announced on April 14, 1970). Then on April 18, 1970 the Board of Trustees was presented with a “Student Bill of Rights” and agreed, in theory, in the implementation of such a document. However, it requested that a committee of students, faculty and administrators study the document before it approved its implementation; on December 9, 1972, after the committee finished its review of the document, the Board of Trustees formally approved the implementation of the Student Bill of Rights.

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