Burton Hall, named after Professor Herbert Burton, Principal of the
School of General Studies from 1960 to 1965, opened in 1965. Mr. Geoffrey
Rossiter has been Warden of the Hall since then. The first few months of the
Hall’s life were very much pioneering days. For the first term, residents shared rooms until the second block was completed. Until the end of second term, residents ate in the Union, as Central Block was not ready for use. Crossing Sullivan’s Creek was apparently sometimes rather hazardous and students at times tended to arrive at meals in a rather damp state. By the time the first part of Garran Hall opened at the beginning of the 1966 academic year, the greatest physical discomforts had been eliminated.
Garran Hall was established as a University Hall of Residence
in 1966 and was named after the late Sir Robert Garran, Sir Robert was
the President of the first Council of the University Association of
Canberra and Chairman of the Council of Canberra University College
from 1930-53. He was the first graduate of the University, receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Laws in 1951.
The Founder Warden of Garran Hall was Dr. J.T.R. Short (Department
of Zoology, S.G.S,) and he guided the Hall through its initial years between
inception and 1973. Dr. Short was followed in office by Dr. M. Gore (Senior
Lecturer, Physics Department, S.G.S.) in 1974, and he continues to hold that office.
The Halls provide single study bedroom accommodation for
approximately 250 residents in each, the majority of whom are undergraduate students. The overall management and discipline of the Hall rests with the Governing Body which is itself responsible to the Council of the University. -The Governing Body consists of both staff end students there being members appointed by the Board of the School and the University Council and several members elected from the resident members. The Warden is the Chairman of the Governing Body and it is he who is responsible for carrying out the day to day administration of the Hall.
In the early years, the Halls placed a greater emphasis on the formal
traditions inherited from older institutions of this kind. Rules were also
stricter and supervision tighter (curfews of 11 p.m. are unthinkable to those
who came later). At the same time, through the non-resident tutor system,
valuable contact with different facets of university life was offered to residents of the Halls. On the management side, the practice of making the Halls available for conferences and other functions during University vacations was established in the first few years.
One persistent problem in the late 1960’s was the imbalance of the
sexes- for example in 1968 there were 135 male undergraduate residents of
Burton and only 84 women, while Garran had 138 and 73 respectively. The
social and sporting aspects of Hall life were developing, with each Hall building up its own loyalties and rivalries. Academically, the results of Hall residents were consistently good, with about three-quarters passing in all units attempted .
In 1969 fees were increased from $500 to $600 with another rise to
$630 foreshadowed for 1970. These rises were in accordance with the goal of self-sufficiency for the Halls set under the Australian Universities
The introduction of the sale of alcohol in 1970 provided an additional
amenity for Hall residents. The opening of the Buttery in 1972 gave residents of both Halls a small but friendly piece of common ground for the quiet enjoyment of the occasional drink.
Fees remained at $630 for 1971, but in 1972 were increased to $685
as rising costs could not be offset by other means. The possibility of
reductions in services was being actively explored.
Hall life has sometimes been portrayed as only slightly less unpleasant
than prison life. Yet in a survey undertaken by the Psychology Department in 1972, Garran and Burton residents were “fairly satisfied” with their administration and conditions generally.
It is perhaps not necessary to give a detailed account here of the
financial problems which have dominated the administration of the Halls
since the early 1970’s. Instead, a summary of the main consequences for management and residents should give an idea of the type and scale of change. In 1974, after a period of financial crisis for the Halls, it was decided to replace the existing kitchen arrangement with the introduction of services provided by the catering firm, Nationwide. I n 1977, following the success of Toad Hall, Garran Hall converted to the “self-cooking” arrangement , Stores and storage cupboards were fitted into the former dining and common-room areas . For the 1979 academic year, Burton Hall will reduce fees for undergraduates to $40 per week ($1,320 per academic year). This will be possible through the establishment of a system whereby residents contribute a maximum of two hours per week in domestic work for the Hall.
During the years of existence of Burton and Garran Halls, there have
been many changes in the university environment. The “boom period” for
universities is over and problems caused by the failure of living allowances
to keep pace with the cost of living, as well as the prospect of unemployment on graduation , would seem to make the years of study at university more uncertain
than they used to be. But it is to be hoped that places like Garran and Burton
Halls will continue to be more than just a place to eat, sleep and work, and
that they will always provide meeting points for intellectual, social and
sporting activities for those students of the Australian National University
who choose to live in them.