Dean Gage was able to help again, and none of us were expelled or sent to jail

I met Dean Gage in the fall of 1960 when he was Dean of Student Affairs. I had come to UBC to do my first year and while I had worked all summer, I did not quite have enough money to pay my tuition, books and room and board at Acadia camp. I went to the Student Affairs office to see if there was some way to get a job and I ended up talking with Dean Gage. He told me to come back tomorrow and he would see if anything came up. The next day I went to his office and he told me that he had found a small bursary that would fill the gap and that I could then spend my time on my studies because my plan was to go into Engineering. I thanked him and really did not see him again for another 5 years. Thinking back, my bet is that it came from his own pocket.

The last time I saw Dean Gage was at my Graduation Ceremony. Dean Gage was presenting the Diplomas to each of the Engineers that were graduating that year. When I went up on stage to get my Degree, Dean Gage said to me “Spraggs, I never thought I would see this day”. I said something in return like “well sir, without your help along the way, it would not have happened!” and with that, I was gone.

In the interim, I had many meetings with Dean Gage, especially in 1967/68 when I was the EUS President. I believe, that Dean Gage was the Honorary President that year and he helped guide me through the labyrinth of problems that could arise.

The Big E stunt proved to be one problem that Dean Gage was instrumental in finishing. During the fall of 1967, the EUS decided to put a big concrete “E” in front of the Bookstore Café, as a statement of our dominance on campus. Prior to putting the “E” in the ground we had a night time work party that went out and dug a big hole in the mall and filled it with concrete, and metal objects of all sorts, including car axels and reinforcing steel. At the same time, the “E” was being built of concrete and reinforcing steel in the Civil Engineering Concrete Lab. Then, we had a rally and probably 200 engineers dragged the “E” from the Concrete Lab to the Mall and we connected the reinforcing steel in the “E” to the reinforcing steel in the ground and it would take a major effort to get it out. The “E” was there for many months and it was the task of the first year Engineering students to keep it clean. Anyway, at some point, there was enough pressure put on Buildings and Grounds that they were going to remove it. Dean Gage arranged a meeting with myself, the head of B&G, himself and I believe Dean Armstrong. At the meeting I was adamant that the “E” must stay as it was actually a work of art. B&G wanted it gone, but, with the help of Dean Gage, it was agreed that while they would remove the “E” from its current location, they would put it back where the new Engineering buildings were going. We never trusted B&G but Dean Gage said “Spraggs, I will see that it is done” (he always called me Spraggs). The “E” was removed, but it showed up in the fall in the other end of the mall and has been there ever since.

There were many other times when Dean Gage gave a helping hand, like for example, the night the Science Building had all its doors bricked shut from the inside. Another meeting with the Dean of Science, the Dean of Engineering and of course Dean Gage who was able to find an amenable solution. Or the time I asked permission in Brock Hall at the AMS meeting to light up like the other were doing and I was given permission. The railroad flare did its job and filled the hall with smoke but, theoretically someone got burned. Dean Gage was able to help again, and none of us were expelled or sent to jail.

Many times, I gave Dean Gage a heads up before the “stunt” so he would be aware of what was going down, but in many cases, things just happened. Things that just sort of happened, like when the crowd was accidentally sprayed with the putrid liquid that the Chem Eng guys built at the inaugural UBC SFU football game. Dean Gage usually had a hand in making sure the consequences of such acts were not blown out of context.

My thanks to Dean Gage for helping me and the many other students that I know were helped. He was truly a great person.

Lynn Spraggs
BASc 1968