Linda LeClair and her boyfriend, Peter Behr. Detail from New York Daily News article, March 12, 1968.
On March 4, 1968, a seemingly innocuous article appeared in The New York Times about the new trend of student co-habitation. A Barnard sophomore, “Susan” explained how she circumvented the housing rules in order to live with her boyfriend. Barnard administrators quickly identified her as Linda LeClair and urged disciplinary action.
LeClair argued that she was in a long-term partnership, that she was responsible for her personal life, and that all-male Columbia had no such rules, so why should Barnard?
Eventually, the student-faculty Judicial Council found LeClair guilty on charges of violating college rules, but imposed a light punishment: she was banned from the cafeteria and certain social events.
The Council also strongly recommended a full overview of the housing rules.
Barnard’s president, Martha Peterson, overruled them and expelled LeClair, pending her grades. LeClair ultimately dropped out of Barnard, ending her role in the affair, but left a legacy of change behind her.
One of the many news articles about the "affair". New York Daily News, March 12, 1968.
The article that started it all. The New York Times, March 4, 1968.