On October 10, 1968, hundreds of students, staff and faculty gathered in front of Hart House under sunny skies to see Steven Langdon, president of the Students’ Administrative Council, take on University of Toronto president Claude Bissell in a debate over the role of the university in Canadian life.
Langdon argued that the university and its students should adopt a more activist stance, setting out to correct society’s injustices. Bissell countered that the university must protect its political neutrality to avoid skewing academic hiring and curriculum on the basis of ideology.
The event kicked off a year of intense activism at U of T. Inspired by the student movement in Canada and abroad, Langdon wanted to ensure that students would be represented fairly in a new model of university governance that Bissell had proposed. For much of the year, Langdon lobbied for a greater student voice in university decisions.
Langdon, a former MP who lives in Ottawa, says the historic debate marked the beginning of a shift in the U of T Zeitgeist. “It turned out to be the start of a positive engagement between students and the administration. This was pretty rare among the conflicts occurring in universities at the time.”
U of T’s 196th Birthday Quiz
Test your knowledge of all things U of T in honour of the university’s 196th anniversary on March 15!
Spreading the Gospel
A Juno Award-winning teacher wants all his students to feel there is a place for them in music
Cities Are Driving Evolution
Globally crowdsourced study shows that white clovers are biologically adapting to city life, demonstrating the profound impact of urbanization