Special Collections continues our archival project Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC's 50th, a special series showcasing 50 different objects that tell the story of UMBC. This week we present a report included among minutes from a March 1970 UMBC Senate meeting pertaining to the creation of a Free Hour at UMBC.
Report within Meeting Minutes of UMBC Senate, 1970. University Senate Records, Folder 16: Minutes March 1970, University Archives, Coll052, Special Collections, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD)
Free hour, the hour of time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday without scheduled classes, first began on the UMBC campus in the 1970s. A group of UMBC students formed a Student Union, attempting to take more direct action (compared to other organizations like the SGA) in student affairs.
The Student Union had three initial requests of the UMBC Senate. One, to allow students, faculty, and staff to solicit donations from one another in any non-academic area and at any time. Two, for the student activities fee to be abolished (this was the most controversial of the requests) and three, for a free hour of no scheduled classes to be implemented on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Student opinion on free hour ran in both directions. Some appreciated a free period of time to have club meetings or to grab lunch, while others wanted the administration to schedule classes during the hour to allow for a more flexible academic schedule. Though free hour's questionable status would continue throughout the years, it's establishment (due to the efforts of the Student Union) continued on and is still in effect at UMBC to this day, the only University of Maryland System college to have such a thing.
-Article in The Retriever Weekly (Volume 18, Issue 9) About the Questionable Status of Free Hour (Page 3)
-Article in The Retriever (Volume 22, Number 20) About Administrators Contemplating Eliminating Free Hour