Sweeping Change, On Campus and Across the Country

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1964-2013

At Colby in 1965 women students were required to sign out with the head resident of their dormitory prior to visits “to their own homes, to the home of another Colby woman student, to a woman’s college, or to the infirmary.” Special permission was also required if the woman student expected to return to campus after the midnight curfew.

Five years later, students were demonstrating against the war in Vietnam, boycotting classes, and occupying Lorimer Chapel. On Mayflower Hill and on other college campuses across the nation, the Sixties came in like a lamb and went out like a rebellious lion.

Perhaps at no other time in the College’s history did such a tidal wave of social change sweep over the country and the campus. In the space of a year or two, parietal hours were replaced by coed dorms. Students demanded–and won–a voice in deciding college policies on curriculum and minority recruiting. Members of the old guard defended their world order as the new world order swirled about them.

Wrote Colby professor, dean, and historian Ernest C. Marriner, Class of 1913, in the tumultuous spring of 1969: “For some time I have foreseen an ultimate showdown, because of the extreme, non-conciliatory views of a student minority, who were even out of tune with the more moderate, but sometimes equally vociferous Student Government.”

For some it may have seemed that Colby was under siege and could not possibly survive. But that decade merely launched the College on yet another upward trajectory. Over the next 40 years, Colby’s reputation as a top liberal arts college would spread nationally and globally. Careful financial management saw the College’s endowment increase steadily. Campus facilities expanded, as did the vision of Colby students, who embraced the opportunities afforded by their education.

In the end, the core mission of the College remained: to teach students to communicate effectively, think critically, and use their imaginations. “These basic capacities,” said President William D. Adams in 2010, “are among the most enduring and fundamental goals of a liberal arts education.”

Then and now. You’ve walked in their footsteps. Now read their words.