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55 Years Ago

The more things change, the more they stay the same, as this letter to the editor of The Echo ably demonstrates. Questions about the current “lights out” and dorm closing policies seem to have slipped to the back burner lately, and while the “powers that be” may wish that I hadn’t reminded the student body that this has been an issue, your editor is really trying to gauge whether students are reading this column, anyway. Perhaps we’ll find out later this week…

from The Echo, vol. III, no. 1, p. 2; October 22, 1962.

Dear Echo:

Should there be unlimited lights at Northfield? Such a question raises pros and cons in the minds of almost everyone, for both sides of the issue have been discussed. Since this issue will be brought before Council in the near future, we should try to form intelligent opinions about it.

The reason for a definite lights out and rising bell is that commonly accepted rules of health show that the average sleep requirement for an adult is about eight hours a night; and for a busy teenager one half hour more would not be wasted. Bells are a part of the daily routine within which punctuality is stressed as being part of dorm cooperation, campus-wide cooperation, even simple obedience to the rules.

No two people work at identical rates of speed. To achieve a smooth-running system is to determine an average and build from there. The question now lies in this average. The present schedule is successful in that the average upper-classman can complete the minimum requirement for every subject in the time allotted and meet essential requirements. I quote a member of the faculty, “Doing what is asked for means earning a C+. Anything above that is achieved by working on your own initiative to produce more than what is demanded of you.” Not everyone can do more than what is asked for and participate in extra-curriculars as well. Where, then, can she find time except after taps?

Can a student act sensibly if left to her own judgment? Would she work steadily and go to bed when her studying was finished, rather than waste time and stay up all night? Could she accept at Northfield the responsibility she normally has at home and use it to her best advantage without abusing it? I think so. It should be possible to trust any Northfield girl with her own health.

Would this freedom be school wide or restricted to seniors only? Certainly the seniors need late lights, and could be trusted to respect the privilege with the highest degree of maturity.

Would seniors staying up late bother the rest of the dorm? Late pers [permissions –ed.] don’t disturb anyone, and obviously seniors would be obliged to behave after ten p.m. as on a late per, using the extra time for studying only.


Whether the right to have unlimited lights is ever granted, either to seniors or to the entire student body, as an open privilege or as a more lenient form of late per, is yet to be decided. I hope everyone can think the issue over, form her own opinion, and care enough to express it in Council.

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