What is a College? To many people it is a building where boys and girls go to receive instruction at the hands of certain authoritative people called professors. They are quite wrong. A College is a society–at Oxford, colleges are regularly and formally so referred to–a society of men and women, some younger–the students; some older–the teachers. You note that we said men and women, not boys and girls. You are Mr. and Miss. and have put away childish things. Neither did we say gentlemen and ladies; we take it for granted that you are one or the other. Moreover manliness and womanliness are the good things to see in you.
A society, whether a state, a church, a club or a college, exists to promote the well-being of its members, and the curious thing is that those members are happiest in their membership who give most to the society. As soon as people associate, each has to adopt the behaviour known as "give and take"; that is to say he yields some of his own rights so as not to hurt the other fellow or make him uncomfortable. In one sense a man has the right to spit, but if he does he risks spreading disease germs; so a man of right feeling does not spit. In the same sense a girl may claim the right to walk about the college with her dirty rubbers on, but that means extra work for the janitor, so the nice girl takes her rubbers off. And so on. It is a far-reaching principle.
Most people understand this perfectly well: if they make mistakes it is through ignorance or thoughtlessness. For their guidance this little book has been compiled. It is a "Student's Companion", intended to make his way through college pleasant and profitable. It is much more than a book of rules and regulations, though they figure prominently in it; they must; for there are in every society a few who wish to obtain all the advantages of membership without giving anything in return. In the state there are citizens who try to get out of paying their taxes: in a college there are those students who do damage without reporting it; choke up wash-basins; "borrow" their fellows' property, and so on. Because a society has to protect itself against such unsocial acts certain laws or rules have had to be made and certain officers of the College charged with seeing that they are observed.
The more important part of this book is concerned with telling you how to use the Library, what clubs there are and what they do, how you register, get your supplies and a score of other matters calculated to make smoother the beginnings of college life and help you to get the most out of it all through. So read it, keep it by you, consult it from time to time, and may your stay in the Memorial University College be a happy one.
Having submitted your application for admission and been told that your application has been accepted, your next step is to pay the fees or the first installment of them (see Calendar page 30). Until the fees are paid you are not a member of the College and you will not be admitted to courses or societies. On paying your fee see that you receive from the Registrar a copy of the Calendar and a subject-list bearing the College stamp. Put your name on it.
The next thing, unless you have done it already, is to consult pp. 32-35 of the Calendar and decide upon the course you wish to take. If you have some professional training in view, such as teaching or medicine, choose the course laid down for it in the Calendar or select from the choices offered what is best suited to your purpose. If you have made up you mind to take a degree or diploma at some overseas university see to it that the course you take here will qualify you for entrance there. This is your responsibility, not the College's. If you are one of those fortunate people who need have no such professional training in mind, choose, not the five subjects that you can "get by" with easiest, but those that will give you the fullest satisfaction. If you have a natural inclination for this or that subject don't be put off because some lazy fellow tells you that it is hard. Any subject worth taking is hard.
There are unfortunately such things as time-table clashes. If two subjects are being taught at the same hour you can't take both but must select one. You must therefore study carefully the time-table printed in the middle of the Calendar and see whether your proposed course can in practice be taken; if not, change it. Notice that some classes, e.g., French 1 and Biology 1, are duplicated; hence you may be able to work with one or other division.
The number of students admissable to optional classes is limited and sometimes admission has to be refused. For this and other reasons have a sixth subject to suggest in case your course is unacceptable; e.g. supposing you have selected German 1 as one of your subjects but are told that the class is full, be ready to offer to take History or Geology or some other subject.
Having settled on your courses as well as you can, present yourself when instructed to do so before your professors, taking with you your stamped subject-list. As your proposed subjects are agreed upon they will be ticked off on the list. Keep the list by you and produce it when called upon by the various instructors, to be initialled by them. The course so ticked and initialled is your course. You may not change it on your own authority nor on the authority of one professor. Don't go to Mr. A's class saying that Mr. B told you to do so: only Mr. A may tell you that. Therefore if you wish to change from one subject to another you must take your subject list to both the professors concerned.
After classes have started you will be called upon to return your subject-list to the office where it will be filed. Thereafter you will be able to alter your course only on formal application to the Registrar in writing after the consultation with your advisor.
Provide yourself with these in accordance with the notices posted on various bulletin boards. Students who obtain their needs in other ways do so at their own risk. Mind you don't get gypped with incomplete, out-of-date or otherwise unsuitable second-hand books. The stationary sold at the office is of good quality and fairly priced. If you wish to spend more money for inferior materials the College won't forbid you.
After the first few days of term the office will be open for the sale of books, etc., between 9.30 and 12.30 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The attention of students is called to the paragraph dealing with attendance on page 27 of the Calendar. They are reminded that
1. Absence from class is a breach of discipline unless there is a satisfactory explanation for it.
2. Should the absence be longer than one day, whatever the cause of it, the student is required to furnish the office with a written explanation as soon as possible after the first day.
3. Illness and bereavement are the only acceptable reasons for absence. In all other cases leave of absence must first be obtained from the President.
All absences are recorded in each class, and reported to the office. At the end of each half-year the absences are totalled. Any student whose record of attendance at any class is unsatisfactory may be debarred from admission to the examination in the subject concerned.
Absences due to late arrival at the beginning of the College year, or late return after a holiday period, are placed on the student's record and included in the total number of absences unless he has first obtained from the President permission for such absence.
First-year students are expected to be either in the Library or studying in a vacant classroom during the periods in which they are not attending lectures. They must be in the building during College hours.
The employment of free time is left to the discretion of all students other than those in their first year.
It is the custom of the College to permit every student, if his time-table makes it possible, to have one free afternoon a week which he may use as he wishes. The regulation above does not apply to these free afternoons.
A professor is authorized if he so wishes to record as absent any student arriving for a class after he has checked attendance. Moreover he may refuse admittance to tardy students, but the College requires every student to go into a class at which he arrives late, even very late, unless he is otherwise instructed by the professor concerned. To offer lateness as the excuse for absence is only to make bad worse.
The College building, the rooms and equipment in them, are for the students, not the students for the buildings. The utmost good is intended to be got out of them and therefore the more fully they are used the better. "Students" does not mean this year's students only: there are generations of students still to come, and we have the college and its contents in trust for them. It should be our care and pleasure to pass on our trust not diminished or harmed but improved and enriched. Again, many activities go on at the same time in the College and this calls for the exercise of forebearance and consideration. Ping-pong cannot be played in silence: literature cannot be studied in the midst of noise. Clearly, in working hours, work has the first claim on our consideration.
If then certain directions are laid down for the use of the building, it is to promote the objects for which the institution exists.
Any vacant classroom, unless specifically reserved, is open to students for study, group meetings and similar purposes. In addition there is at every working hour a room under voluntary supervision set apart for quiet study. There is posted on the notice boards a plan and time-table which will help students to use this room. One simple understanding has to be observed -- unbroken quietness. To go to this room for study is to enter into a contract to work in silence.
When using classrooms for the purposes suggested above students are on the footing of guests. Guests do not litter their host's floors with paper, make a mess with chalk or do anything else that would make him regret his hospitality.
The Assembly Hall is a rather special place. It contains the portraits of the founders of the College; it contains historic flags; it is the scene of important ceremonies in the life of the College here the College receives its guests. It is, therefore, in a certain sense reserved. Students do not congregate there for trivial purposes, nor do they go there for study.
In the Assembly Hall is a piano. Students who have obtained permission from the Committee of Discipline may play at certain specified times.
This room is for music only, and when not in use is kept locked. The simple directions for using it are found under the heading: Music, in the section on Students' Societies.
What is a Common Room? The name itself answers the question. It is a room for the use of certain people considered as a body. They go there for relaxation, for meetings, for recreation, for suitable games. If, as happens sometimes, it comes to be used by a few only, as a sort of happy hunting ground, to the disturbance of others, then its purpose as a common room is defeated. Apart from providing against certain abuses harmful to the College as a whole, the Committee of Discipline leaves the management of the Common Room to the students themselves.
The provisions in question are as follows:
(1) The Men's Common Room is out of bounds to the women students; the Women's Common Room is out of bounds to the men. A member of the S.R.C. or a student-official in charge of the Common Room alone may invite a student of the opposite sex.
(2) People who are not members of the College may enter the Common Room as guests only.
(3) Gambling in any form is forbidden.
Corridors exist to enable you to go from one place to another, not to congregate in, talk in or play in. The atmosphere of a college or school should be one of busy silence. The College has places to work in, places to play in, places to read or study in; there is no need to use the corridors and landings for any purpose other than the one first mentioned. In nothing can members of the College display consideration for others more acceptably than in keeping corridors quiet. Those who spend much time strolling about in them, talking loudly, laughing and whistling, are a public nuisance.
No part of the college premises puts the tone of a student body to such a test as this. It is the happy hunting ground of the lout and the cad. Left to himself he vents his beastliness in scribblings on the walls, befouls the conveniences and blocks the basins with chewing gum or waste paper. The careless or ignorant uses the toilets as a trash basket, neglects to flush them or leaves the tap running and floods the floor. Left to himself he does these things. Then it is up to his fellow students not to leave him to do them. They and they alone can see to it that the lavatories are as fitting a place to take visitors to as a lecture room or the laboratories. It is all a matter of public opinion amongst the students themselves.
Again the S.R.C. has authority to make regulations.
Men students go in and out by the door at the West end of the old building; women students by the East door. The main entrance, though not forbidden to students, is by courteous consent reserved to the Staff, the S.R.C. and visitors to the College. A door that is forbidden to students is the one at the back of the building below the President's office.
The buildings are open from 8.45 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5.45 p.m. Students should not be in the College at other times unless permission has been granted. Permission will be freely granted to clubs, groups of students and even individuals for use of the library, drafting room and other rooms, and for entertainments, practices, etc., and you need not hesitate to apply through the S.R.C. for such authority. On the other hand mere loitering around the buildings is strongly discountenanced and the janitors are authorized to report instances that they come across.
Some people jib at the word discipline. They think it stands for something evil; for the power of some boss or other to interfere; for restrictions upon the free blooming of our blessed little personalities. This is nonsense. Rightly understood, discipline means the governance of men and women so that what is good and decent in them gets the fullest chance at the cost only of what is mean and harmful. An ill-disciplined army suffers more from wounds and disease than a well-disciplined one; and an ill-disciplined community more from accidents and epidemics; and the happy school or college is not the one in which everybody does what he likes but the one in which everybody does what is decent. The great majority of us know this quite well and act upon it. Such people look for the meaning and purpose of a regulation and enter into the spirit of it. But a few insist on kicking over the traces, because they think it is smart, because it gives them a silly sense of superiority, or just because that is the way they are. For their sakes there have to be disciplinary authorities.
According to the Calendar,
The effectual meaning of this is that any of the people mentioned in the foregoing not only may but must take notice of misconduct. In order to simplify proceedings the S.R.C. is entrusted with seeing that discipline is maintained in the Common Rooms, lavatories and cloak rooms. Subject to the approval of the President and Faculty, it may make regulations and arrangements for carrying them out, and may take against offenders action such as suspension from use of the Common Rooms, reporting to higher authority, the imposition of fines for damage and so on. The Committee of Discipline is composed of the Vice-President and the Dean of Women in virtue of office, and of three others. Its members are not more concerned to look out for breaches of good behaviour than any other officers of the College; they are not policemen. When breaches do occur, however, they are reported to the Committee of Discipline which has authority to take the action it thinks proper. It may be content to make a record or to ask the student body to take the matter up; it may send for the erring student and ask for an explanation; it may impose a reprimand, a restriction upon privileges, or even a fine; it may, in serious cases, suspend an offender from all attendance at College or recommend his expulsion.
The Committee of Discipline therefore wields large powers. For all that its chief object is not to make life hard for anybody but to make it smooth for everybody. For every once that it takes unpleasant action, which everybody sees, it does half a dozen things to help, which very few see. It does not exist to punish. If you think a regulation might profitably be modified, if you have any suggestions for the pleasanter running of the College's business, you are freely welcome to approach the Committee of Discipline
To each member of the Faculty is allotted a certain number of students who become his special care; he becomes their "adviser." His function in that capacity is to get to know each individually so that every student may feel that in the Faculty there is at least one person who is not merely a teacher but a friend. Your adviser is there to help you make hard decisions, to present a case to the Faculty on your behalf if need arise, to counsel you about your studies and generally to keep in special touch with you. You need not wait however for difficulties to arise before going to him; just go for a talk and get the ice broken. Thereafter have a word with him from time to time even if your College life goes quite smoothly.
Because women students may have matters to discuss that lie outside the academic, an officer of the College has been appointed to whom they may go at any time. This officer is the Dean of Women, who at present is also the Registrar. She is not to take the place of the students' advisers, and when girls want information about studies, leave of absence and other such routine matters they should consult their adviser; but for other and more personal matters they may refer to the Dean of Women. The Dean, for her part, will keep an eye on the girls, their interests, their behaviour, and so on.
By now you have realized that the members of the Faculty are not school masters and mistresses but simply the senior members of the society called the Memorial University College. They wish to give you the opportunity to become informed and cultured people and they are loath to put pressure on you; neither do they wish to interfere in what are properly the affairs of the students. The students have therefore their own representative council, democratically elected according to a constitution that every student should study. This council is an important body. It is the channel between President and Faculty on the one hand and the students on the other. It looks after clubs and societies, none of which can be constitutionally established without its approval. It arranges for the social functions organized by the students and has charge of their funds. It has special charge of certain rooms and parts of the building and has authority to see that they are properly used. Its members are officers of the College and as such are associated with the President and Faculty in maintaining discipline and helping students to keep up the tone of the College.
The S.R.C. deserve your respect, your sympathy and your collaboration. They put in hard work on your behalf and shoulder responsibility. It is up to you not to add to their burdens by inconsiderate behaviour or unwillingness, but to take your share of work as well as of play. They are your representatives and their duty is to represent you, to help you to get all you can out of College life and to put all you can into it. If you are dissatisfied with the way they do their job the remedy is not to make a rebellious or discontented nuisance of yourself but apply to the constitution for the ways of making changes. The truth is that from the first the College has usually been fortunate in the choice of councillors made by the students and there has hardly been an instance in which an attempt to remove one would have been justifiable. So go all out to help them help you, and show that democracy works, in college at any rate.
One last word about the S.R.C. Their office is their office, not a common room. Keep out of it, unless you have business there. It is hard for them to say this quite frankly to their fellow students so it is said here for them.
Life at the College offers you many fine things, not the least of which is the chance to browse in a well-stocked library. During the eighteen years of its existence the Library has grown to twelve thousand volumes and unless your fancy runs to the very unusual you will find on the shelves plenty of books to your taste. Besides the books, there are magazines -- a good selection. Make their acquaintance today. Your time at the College will simply melt away; make up your mind to use every moment of it well. Get the habit of seeing what new books are on the Books-of-the-Week table. Keep yourself posted on current affairs. Remember: FAMOUS BOOKS ARE INTERESTING. Don't content yourself with reading about them; form your own opinions by reading the books themselves, not merely the comments on them made by somebody else, valuable as they may be.
If you have difficulties in finding your way about, please ask for help. It will be given gladly. The Library Handbook has been compiled to assist you in getting the most out of the Library. If you have not yet received a copy you will be given one soon. In the meantime borrow a book, not because you "want something to read", but because you most definitely want to know what is in the particular book you have chosen. The Library of the Memorial University College is yours, not in the legal sense of ownership, but in the wider sense that it is yours to use to the extent of your ability and understanding.
Start using your Library today and learn the joy of the fellowship of books.
In addition to the regular academic courses there are a large number of cultural and social activities, in some of which each student should engage if he is to obtain tbe fullest benefit from his time at College. The student, however, should not engage in these to the detriment of other work but merely choose one or several activities combining for him the most interest and pleasure. Some of the societies are the Athletic Union, the Arts and Sciences Society, the Student-Teachers' Society, the Engineering Society, the Pre-Medical Society, and the Dramatic Group. By an old standing law of the College every one of these societies is open to any student, whatever his course of study. If you are interested in education you may become a member of the Student-Teachers' Society, even though you are not a teacher in training; if you are interested in engineering–and what normal man is not?–you are entitled to join the Engineering Society; and so on.
Many students quite ignorant of art, have found an altogether new and unexpected interest in life as a result of joining the group which meets every week under the direction of the Instructor in Art. It is not a College course, there is no examination and proceedings are informal, but once students have joined they are expected to attend regularly an, if only in courtesy, to explain lateness and absence. The group studies painting specially but sculpture and architecture too.
A similar group studies music, meeting once a week under competent guidance. There is a joint committee of teachers and students that arranges once or twice a week a recital of gramophone music. If you like music, classical or modern, grave or gay, vocal or instrumental, and are willing to give up a half-hour every week to listening, here is your chance. By a very simple method you can make known your preferences to the Committee, and all that is required of you is attention to the music and consideration for the pleasure of others.
The College has had for some years now a regularly instituted dramatic society with officers elected by the students. Membership is open to all students who are interested in any phase of play-production or would like to find out what amateur theatricals are like.
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