Third Burton Insurrection
The Third Burton Insurrection, also known at the time as the Third Burton Controversy and Third Burton Experiment, was an event during Fall Term 1969 that was Carleton's first experience with co-educational dormitories. Ten women students, in violation of the college's "open house" regulations, moved into a lounge on the third floor of Burton Hall. Though they left the hall eleven days later, the event gave momentum to the co-educational living movement, and several residence halls were made officially co-educational the very next term.
Until 1970, none of Carleton's residence halls were co-educational. Men lived mostly in dorms on the west side of campus, namely Musser Hall, Davis Hall, Burton Hall, Severance Hall and (the lone east-side exception) Goodhue Hall. Women lived in dorms on the east side, namely Evans Hall, Nourse Hall, Myers Hall and Watson Hall (and, before it was demolished, Gridley Hall). Men were allowed into women's dorms only during specified visiting hours, and women were not allowed into men's dorms at all until the 1960s. Though Carleton was hardly unique in this segregation, other colleges had, by the 1960s, begun to offer co-educational housing. For example, Macalaster College offered several variations on co-educational dorms during the 1968-1969 school year, including co-educational by floor, by wing, or even having male and female students on the same floor.
During room draw in the spring of 1969, members of a group known as the Educational Commune, which had aims to create integrated community living, attempted to draw rooms on the same floor, namely, Third Burton. Several (male, of course) members of the commune did succeed in this endeavor.
Throughout the fall of 1969, a Social Policy Committee held bi-weekly meetings on the topic of co-educational housing. In late October, they made the recommendation (pursuant to agreement by the board of trustees in their January meeting) that the college experiment with swapping several floors. These recommendations, however were not made public until the following month.
During fall term of 1969, there were reportedly several "intermittent violation[s] of open house rules on Third Burton" (The Carletonian, November 6, 1969). On October 25-26, twenty-five students (including five from Third Burton) attended a retreat sponsored by the Student Committee for Religions Affairs, discussing social change projects. Among the topics of discussion were proposals for co-educational dorms and founding communes on campus.
On Thursday, October 30, Third Burton held a floor meeting during which the possiblity of the floor going co-ed was discussed. The floor unanimously agreed with the proposal, and eight women moved in to the lounge that very night.
The next day, Dean VanEyck and Dean Smith met with Third Burton residents to discuss the matter and remind students of the college's open house regulations. After the deans left, Third Burton residents reaffirmed their support of co-educational living. By this time, approximately nine female students were living on the floor.
On Saturday, November 1, Dean VanEyck requested that Burton's Proctor, Randy Wilkening, provide a list of persons on Third Burton who were violating open house regulations. Wilkening decided to allow the women to decide whether to report themselves by posting a sheet that anyone could sign to be turned in to Van Eyck. Some students attempted to canvas the entire student body with the intention of having so many names on the list that it would be impossible for the college to discipline them. These attempts were largely unsuccessful.
On Sunday, November 2, Third Burton requested a second meeting with the deans, wherein the students and the deans recognized that they had been engaged in an unconstructive adversarial relationship. The deans reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with their in loco parentis roles to the student body. The residents of Third Burton and the deans agreed to work together, involving the rest of the campus, to find a constructive way to settle the dispute. Students agreed to stop canvassing the college for signatures, and the deans promised to drop threats of disciplinary action.
The insurrection continued for another week, with a final total of ten women living on Third Burton. Then, on Monday, November 10, the deans broke their moratorium and again threatened disciplinary action against the women. Following a floor meeting that evening, the women moved out of Burton and back to their assigned housing. By this time, the Social Policy Committee's recommendation of a co-educational housing experiment had been made public, and those involved in the insurrection were apparently satisfied to wait for the meeting of the trustees in January wherein the college's social regulations would be revised.
At least two other floors unilaterally imposed 24-hour open houses during and following the Third Burton Insurrection, and there were rumors that the college "would soon experience a major social blow-up." (The Carletonian, January 15, 1970) However, the January trustees meeting approved the decisions of the Social Policy Committee, and co-educational housing became a reality the next month, when eight floors—including Third Burton—became officially co-educational as part of a limited experiment. Those involved apparently felt the experiment to be a success, and Carleton has had co-educational housing ever since.
- "Much Talk, Little Action As SCRA Retreats Again." The Carletonian, October 30, 1969, page 3.
- "Third Burton Chronology of Events." The Carletonian, November 6, 1969, page 1.
- Gretchen and Mierdita: "Coed Dorms: No Big Thing." The Carletonian, November 6, 1969, page 4.
- Stilger, Bob: "Improving Social Health." The Carletonian, November 6, 1969, page 5.
- "3B Returns to Celibacy." The Carletonian, November 17, 1969, page 13.
- Bates, Robin: "Mid-winter Shift to Co-ed Dorms Leaves Some Cold, Others Warm." The Carletonian, January 15, 1970, page 1.
- Caldwell, Betsy: "The Great Co-ed Housing Peregrination." The Carletonian, February 19, 1970, page 1.