How were Trinity student controversies over alcohol, fraternities, and race from the 1960s similar or different to those of today, and how did they impact Trinity Policy?
Social mobility advances on the basis of higher educational pursuit. Those who are privileged enough to receive such an accredited education are therefore the targeted audience to social and academic policies. Private liberal arts colleges, such as Trinity College, have the opportunities and extensive networking outreach to assemble an intimate setting in which students are valued and given the prospect of greater futures. Trinity migrated from a local all men’s collegiate establishment in 1823 to a regional coeducational institution broadened by global access by means of study abroad. This transformation exemplifies the multitude of periodical changes that have been made over the course of Trinity’s historical background. It is the weighted impact and pressure of these previous social movements that have determined our current generation’s collegiate environment. There are a variety of factors that produced each effectual change in Trinity policy and the most outstanding contributor has been the student involvement and influence of social change, particularly within the controversies over alcohol, fraternities, and race since the 1960s.
Undergraduate students have been agents of social change since the beginning of the 20th century. Trinity students in the 1960s became politically substantial activists whereby the strive for influence and promotion of choice was established by their lack of control in the turmoil of the world’s hardships. “The 1960s were a time of extremes in the country, and energized by intellectual vitality and moral fervor, college students nationwide sought to counter the pervasive forces of gloom and devastation that were present on the national and international front, and whose manifestations were being reported daily in the press as well as on radio and television. Trinity students looked beyond the campus to engage in a host of local activities” [Knapp 331]. By experiencing the world in crisis, students began to formulate a community democracy and the intimate nature of Trinity’s small enrollment allowed this to occur. The Trinity College chapter of the Student for a Democratic Society (SDS) alliance was founded in 1966, which advocated for “the establishment of social democracy in the United States, and a humanist view of the rest of the world” [Knapp 335]. With a solidified outlet for social movement, students were entitled to release their frustrations, objections, and beliefs while gaining the ability to challenge the authority in which they resided under. However the 1969 separation of the national SDS diminished the allure of such an organization to Trinity students by means of deterring the interest of urgent matters to much broader concerns students knew could not be confronted. The SDS chapter was eliminated in 1970. Student immersion and involvement in national and global controversies provoked campus discourse and opposition to authority. Occurrences such as the Bay of Pigs, the bombing of North Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the death of Malcolm X, became prominent societal turbulence particularly affecting those graduating into the reality of adulthood. Demonstrations and protests across the board consistently became increasingly violent and the efforts of students failed to provide any sufficient outcomes. Thus student expression peaked around 1970 and significantly decreased thereafter.
Among the multitude of various incidents worldwide, Trinity’s community experienced their share of policy debates. Topics such as alcohol restrictions, fraternity reign, and attacks of racism were notorious and continue to subsist amid the student population. Racial inequality in particular drove students to perform an unprecedented act of social change. The Civil Rights Movement that occurred in the early 1960s “heightened undergraduate awareness of race relations and the status of blacks in America, and promoted many Trinity students to ask why more blacks were not being admitted to the College” [Knapp 337]. This immense battle for racial equality aggravated the Trinity community and led to the infamous “lock-in” in 1968 in which “168 students occupied the Downes and Williams administration buildings in an effort to force the trustees to consider the Senate’s proposal concerning scholarships for black students” [Knapp 351].
Moreover, the subject of racism has yet to be resolved. In April 2011, racist remarks and acts of vandalism were reported across the campus and a “No Tolerance” or “Zero Tolerance” policy was implemented by means of student activism and because of “a response they felt was appropriate given what they perceived to be a trend of racism and homophobia on campus. Conversely, others argued that the incident was an isolated event, and not symptomatic of a larger intolerant campus climate” [College Archives 2011]. Ultimately, it has become the obligation of the student community to inhibit the actions of one another whereby Trinity Policy will largely be impressed upon if student protest continues. It is additionally the duty of the college to permit and tolerate student expression and this notion was establish by President Lockwood in his 1968 inauguration speech, “If the independent college is to serve society effectively, it must retain its privilege…to examine society, and freely to question its assumptions and practices…[In addition,] a college must play an active role in helping to resolve, not simply to identify, issues off campus” [Knapp 330]. The outcomes associated with student social movement over time have been acknowledged, but it is the enforcement that remains to be noticed.
Knapp, Peter J., and Anne H. Knapp. Trinity College in the Twentieth Century. Hartford: n.p., 2000. Print.
“Protesting Hate at Trinity College, April 2011.” College Archives, 2011. http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/trinarchives/2.