“If you understand what went before then you can plan much better for the future”.

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Lancaster University’s Honorary Archivist, Marion McClintock, presented a talk detailing the history of the collegiate system on October 9th, during LUSU’s College Spirit Week. Entitled ‘Identities and the Spirit of Lancaster’s Colleges,’ McClintock discussed why the colleges matter and the changes they have gone through, as well as making suggestions for the future.

Taking each college in turn, including the short-lived Charlotte Mason College and the “college that never happened”, Rossendale, McClintock gave a brief history and overview, providing an insight into the factors that have shaped one of Lancaster’s collegiate system. The aim was to support College Spirit Week and enable students to understand the history of Lancaster University and learn lessons for the future.

Speaking to SCAN, McClintock acknowledged that the importance of the colleges was recognised from the very beginning. According to McClintock Sir Noel Hall, the head of the Academic Planning Board at Lancaster University’s conception was “very clear that the colleges were important because… it enabled students to join a community…who would get to know each other, work together and have a measure of autonomy and self-governance.”

The collegiate system has developed substantially since its origin, especially during the creation of Alexandra Park, and McClintock generally believes this initial vision has been fulfilled. However McClintock also argues that the colleges were put at a disadvantage from the beginning “in terms of resources and also their priority in the University … and made to justify their existence before they’d really bedded in”, in addition to more recent issues such as the “bars wars”.

In terms of the current status of the colleges, McClintock is hopeful that the current LUSU officers will be supportive of the college system and lay groundwork for the future, noting that LUSU has a “tendency to go backwards and forwards”, also believing that the management “needs to be persuaded… and satisfied that there is something substantial there”.

The talk formed part of College Spirit Week, a week-long event that aimed to celebrate and promote the collegiate system and encourage people to become involved with their college. McClintock is supportive of the week and firmly believes that it is important that students have an appreciation of the history of the University and its colleges. “If you understand what went before then you can plan much better for the future”.

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