Slipper Incident

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Date(s) of occurrence: October 1884 - June 1885
William Brydone Jack, (after 1840). UA PC 13; no. 27 (2).

Origins: A student of the Junior class threw a slipper at William Brydone Jack, UNB president and professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, during a lecture.

Account of events: When the slipper incident became known to the faculty and Senate, disciplinary measures were taken and the entire Junior class was suspended until the culprit could be identified. The students were outraged at the severity of the punishment, and the Senior and Freshman classes boycotted classes in sympathy with the Junior class. Punishment for these actions was even more severe: suspension, postponing of Encaenia, and withdrawal of scholarships. All classes apologized to the Senate in writing by late October, hoping to restore normal university functions.

Thomas Harrison, however, a professor of English and future UNB president, believed the issue deserved greater attention and upon appealing to the Senate, a committee was formed in March 1885 to investigate discipline at the university. The committee determined that discipline was only an issue in the classes of Francis Rivet, professor of French language and literature, and William Brydone Jack, who were described as being "unable to maintain in their lecture rooms that degree of discipline which is essential to the well being and success of a Collegiate institution." The end result was the forced resignation of Professor Rivet and Dr. Jack in late June 1885.

Note(s): The University Monthly, the student publication at the time, did not directly address the events surrounding the Slipper Incident, but instead published several pointed allusions directed at both the culprit and at the Faculty's actions. In the November 1884 edition it was noted that "a certain gentleman of this University proposes to wear a belt, to which his slippers shall be securely fastened by a small chain inserted in the heel. We think it a good idea, and only add our regrets that he did not do it some time ago."

Source(s):

  • University Monthly, November 1884, p. 30-31.
  • University Monthly, October 1885, p. 2-3.
  • UA RG 42; File 3; Item 53.
  • Montague, Susan. A Pictorial History of the University of New Brunswick. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick, 1992, p. 31.


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