Board of Student Representatives

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The Board of Student Representatives (commonly called Student Board or just SB) was the student government body of Columbia College from 1892 through 1961, when it was abolished without replacement by student referendum. While college students remained active in student governance through participation in other organizations, such as the Ferris Booth Hall Board of Managers, the King's Crown Acitivities Council, and the Dormitory Council, Columbia College would lack its own central student government until the formation of the Columbia College Student Council in 1979.


In January 1892, President Seth Low circulated a memo to the student body calling for the formation of a 'college jury' to oversee student discipline and use of the school grounds. Acting on his words, the presidents of the eleven classes of students enrolled in Columbia College, the School of Applied Sciences, and the Law School formed the "Committee on Regulations." The group changed its name to the "Board of Student Representatives" in April.

The Board ratified its first constitution in 1908, replacing the class presidents with elected delegates, and claiming authority over all extra-curricular activity on campus. In 1912-1913, the Board delegated oversight of sports to the Athletics Association, and non-athletic activities to the reorganized King's Crown committee. Over time the Board became an organ of the Columbia College student body as graduate students lost interest in campus governance. However, in 1925 the Board was stripped of its authority over the Athletics Association and King's Crown, effectively curtailing its actual power.


Following a series of election-related scandals involving interference by Columbia's Senior Societies, and general dissatisfaction with the Board, three students began circulating a petition calling for the abolition of the Student Board on April 28, 1961. By May 2, the petition had been signed by over 400 students and made the front page of the Spectator. Ironically, news of petition broke in the same issue of the Spectator as its comprehensive election supplement. The Student Board voted that night to hold a referendum on the question of its continued existence.

After three days of voting on May 16-18, the referendum overwhelmingly passed 935-167, setting January 1 of 1962 as the date of expiration for the Board's constitution. Moves were already under way to hold a constitutional convention and create a new, stonger governing body. Among outfits to come out of this was the "Quadrangle Club" which hoped that political parties for campus election would help invigorate student government.

Student Assembly

Student leaders drafted a constitution for a new Student Assembly. However, students felt the proposed new organization would be flawed in all the same ways as Student Board. And so in December of 1961, with the clock winding down on Student Board, students rejected the new constitution 690-378, and effectively ended undergraduate student government at the College after 70 years.

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