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Thursday, April 11, 2013

What’s Happening To Women’s Colleges?

Signs hang at Wilson College, protesting the decision to make the school co-ed. (change.org)

Signs hang at Wilson College, protesting the decision to make the school co-ed. (change.org)

There are fewer than 50 women’s colleges left in the United States, and the number will drop again this fall.

Wilson College in Chambersburg, Penn., recently made the decision to go co-ed.

Faced with declining enrollment and huge deficits, the college’s board of trustees and its president decided that admitting men to the undergraduate program would increase the number of students and improve the college’s finances.

“Women tend to outperform men, academically, but there are all kinds of societal pressures against it.”
– David Strauss

Alumnae and current students were up in arms during the decision-making process, and continue to try to overturn the decision through a petition on change.org.

So what is happening to women’s colleges?

Why are Wellesley and Barnard doing well, and others not so much? What would make a young woman forgo the social draw of a co-ed college? And is there a future for single-gender institutions, or have the advances in women’s rights made women’s colleges a thing of the past?

The president of Wilson College, Barbara Mistick, who led the decision-making process and will lead the transition, says Wilson will better serve women by going co-ed.

“Young women today are finding a more open landscape, so they are looking to replicate that when they are looking at colleges,” Mistick told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “So if we want to continue to respond to the women’s market and to continue to really help women find themselves in an institution, perhaps being co-educational will help us do that.”

According to education consultant David Strauss, women’s colleges that do not have large endowments and don’t draw students who can pay full tuition have a more difficult time being competitive – not only with other women’s schools, but in the higher education landscape.

However, women’s colleges fill a critical function for young women, he said, and remain an important choice for students.

“Women tend to outperform men, academically, but there are all kinds of societal pressures against it. These institutions represent a solution to that, but it’s very difficult for an 18 year old to see it,” Strauss told Here & Now. “When young women matriculate at and go through an experience at a women’s college, most of them become converts.”

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

What’s your take on women’s colleges? Are they still relevant? Tell us on Facebook.

Guests:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Ann

    Wellesley and Smith and Barnard and Bryn Mawr and Mt Holyoke (5 of the 7 sisters) are all doing very well, thank you, and committed to remaining women’s colleges.   Of these, only Vassar has admitted men and Radcliffe has been absorbed into Harvard.  I suspect the well established women’s schools will remain strong.  Some of the less well known ones, such as Wilson, may not.  You cannot make general assumptions about women’s colleges based upon Wilson.

    • Sarah Wilson

      Wilson is perfectly established and was perfectly well known. I think that it was the answer for many middle-class women, rather than catering to upper class women as the seven sisters (not that there is anything wrong with this). Middle class women’s colleges have a long history of struggling against coed schools, unlike the Seven. I think you can not make general assumptions about women’s colleges based upon Smith, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, etc.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1470278608 Dahna M. Chandler

        I never heard of Wilson before now. I went to Wellesley and I’m happy to have done so. I’m glad Wellesley alum will never allow the college to go co-ed. Period.

        • C12noon

          Dahna, I am glad to hear your devotion to Wellesley and I hope that you never have to go through what Wilson alumnae are fighting for now. We never felt that this would happen. Nor did the women of Peace College in North Carolina. Sometimes the most unexpected things happen. Many alumnae are devoted to reversing the decision. Whether we have graduated from Wellesley, Wilson, or any of the other wonderful women’s colleges, our one commonality is that we were all enriched, empowered and educated in a stimulating environment that accepted and encouraged us to be leaders. Wilson needs the support of all women who have benefitted from single-sex education. Please consider signing our petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/keep-wilson-college-a-women-s-college-reverse-the-co-ed-decision-now

          • Susan Nercher

            Petitions mean nothing. Money talks.

          • GuestMan

            Money talks is right. This is the only thing I can agree with you upon.

          • Susan Nercher

            Finally, intelligence.

        • Susan Nercher

          When someone files a lawsuit against Wellesley and/or any other women’s college because they refuse to admit men, there’s not much the alum will be able to do about it. Period.

          • GuestMan

            I guess you’ll be the first to do it. All of the other thousands of colleges that allow men isn’t enough is it? One little boy dreamed of going to Wellesley all his little life and when he turned 18 his bubble burst? Really?

          • Susan Nercher

            Or what about a little boy from a poor background and can’t get into Harvard, Columbia, Yale? If women’s colleges claim to offer opportunities to a disadvantaged group, why don’t they realize that that many men (especially black men) are disadvantaged? So all boys are rich and privileged according to you? Really?
            And there are thousands of other colleges that accept women too. And there are more female college graduates than male college graduates, so why do we need women’s colleges especially when there are men from minority backgrounds who aren’t going to college at all? Really?

  • C12noon

    Despite reports from Wilson College, enrollment in women’s colleges appears to be increasing. This increase is not limited to the traditional Ivy League women’s colleges (The Seven Sisters) but appears to be part of a national trend. This is not to say that it is not a struggle for women’s colleges to find fresh and innovative ways to attract young women, but what differs between many successful women’s colleges and Wilson College is a belief and commitment to the mission of educating women.  There is still a place for women’s colleges. To help reverse the Board of Trustees decision please sign the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/keep-wilson-college-a-women-s-college-reverse-the-co-ed-decision-now

    • Susan Nercher

      So if there is a national trend to keep blacks out of colleges, that should be supported as well?

      • GuestMan

        Black women are able to attend women’s colleges. Your point?

        • Susan Nercher

          My point is, just because something is a national trend doesn’t mean that it is correct. Black men are not allowed to attend women’s colleges and black men are more likely to drop out of school. Does that bother you at all?

  • Kkbkoss

    As a graduate from Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga the first college to grant degrees for women I can tell you exactly why I picked an all women’s college
    1) I wanted to lead without having to compete with men. I got sick of that in hs.
    2) I wanted to be safe.
    3) I wanted a first class education.

    I loved every minute of it and made my best friends. It made me a stronger and more tolerant person. I also learned that I was not ‘weird’ because I was an independent thinker and felt no desire to be a second class citizen.

    • Susan Nercher

      What’s wrong with competing with men? Why did competing with men make you sick? And how do you plan to be successful in the real world if you can’t compete with men? And why do claim that you would be safer at a women’s college? That’s sexist. Women harass and assault each other as well. What is so first class about a woman’s college education? Most women who are successful attended co-ed colleges. What if someone said they wanted to attend a white college because they were tired of competing with people of color and because they wanted to be safe? That person would be accused of racism. I don’t think you sound like a more tolerant person as you don’t like men. You are ‘weird’ because you clearly are not comfortable with men. Considering the fact that most men drop out of school, the argument that men are second class citizens in a collegiate environment is much stronger.

      • GuestMan

        Firstly, upon graduation, women quickly compete with men once leaving their women’s colleges. Secondly, just because you attend a women’s college does not mean you cannot interact with men. I know plenty of socially awkward women who attended large, coed schools. It is about your personality and how you were raised, not where you went to school.
        Finally, most women who are successful attend co-ed colleges? Here is a short list, and I mean short, from USNews. Agnes Scott College

        Jean Toal—First female chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court

        Katherine “Kay” Krill—CEO of Ann Taylor Stores Corp.

        Jennifer Nettles—Grammy Award-winning country singer

        Barnard College

        Anna Quindlen—Author

        Martha Stewart—Entrepreneur

        Bryn Mawr College

        Katherine Hepburn—Academy Award-winning actress

        Drew Gilpin Faust—First female president of Harvard University

        Nettie Stevens—Geneticist who discovered that X and Y chromosomes determine sex

        Cedar Crest College

        Judith McGrath—Chairwoman and CEO of MTV Networks

        Andrea Joel—Emmy Award-winning set designer

        College of Notre Dame of Maryland

        Elizabeth Hoisington—First female to attain the rank of brigadier general of the U.S. Army

        Eileen O’Neill—President and general manager of TLC

        College of St. Benedict

        Helen Meyer—Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice

        LeAnne Matthews Stewart—Senior vice president and CFO of Nash Finch Co.

        Converse College

        Julia Mood Peterkin—Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in literature

        Harriet Smith O’Neill—Texas Supreme Court justice

        Hollins University

        Natasha Trethewey—Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry

        Ann Compton—ABC News White House correspondent

        Meredith College

        Beth Leavel—Tony Award-winning Broadway actress

        Silda Wall Spitzer—Founder of Children for Children

        Mount Holyoke College

        Priscilla Painton—Former deputy managing editor of Time

        Suzan-Lori Parks—Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright

        Simmons College

        Gwen Ifill—Managing editor of Washington Week on PBS

        Allyson Schwartz—U.S. congresswoman representing Pennsylvania’s 13th District

        Smith College

        Gloria Steinem—Women’s rights activist and author

        Betty Friedan—Author of The Femini ne Mystique

        Julia Child—Chef and author

        Spelman College

        Jerri Devard—Verizon Communications executive

        Marian Wright Edelman—Founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund

        Trinity Washington University

        Nancy Pelosi—Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

        Kathleen Sebelius—Governor of Kansas, nominee to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

        Wellesley College

        Madeleine Albright—First female U.S. secretary of state

        Hillary Clinton—Current U.S. secretary of state

        Pamela Melroy—NASA astronaut

        So Susan, either you had a bad experience with an all-women’s college graduate and that is why you are so enraged about this topic, or you are actually a man.

        • Susan Nercher

          But the vast majority of women who are successful did not attend a women’s college. In fact, Deborah Spar, who is the President of Barnard College (a women’s college) did not attend a women’s college.
          And there were a lot of successful white men who graduated from men’s colleges, but men’s colleges were forced to integrate.
          So, “GuestMan” either you are suffering from an identity crisis, which would mean that you hate your own gender and that is why you are so enraged about equality between men and women or you are actually a woman who hates men because you had bad experiences with them.
          And most of the women on that list were successful because they came from wealthy families and had great fathers in their lives, not because of their women’s college education.

        • Anonymous

          I’m telling you, this “Susan,” is just some rabid MRA who goes to topics such as these and trolls. There is no susan nercher in the entire USA. I think this person’s real name is Gayle Snercher, but I cannot be sure at this point. It’s just a fake profile, and a troll. probably some creepy dude with no job who lives in his mother’s basement. That’s why it sounds like a man.

          • Susan Nercher

            I am telling you, this “Anonymous” is just some rabid, misandrist troll who posts anti-male comments on any website she can. How would she know if there is a Susan Nercher in the entire USA or not? Who is Gayle Snercher? Did you conduct an illegal database search on her? And now you are dropping her name on a website? She should know about this. The number of crimes being committed is increasing. And who are you to accuse others of using fake profiles when you post under “Anonymous”? You admitted to using fake profiles on another website (one where men were encouraged not to marry, which you clearly disagree with). You are a fake and a creepy, stalking troll who is living in her mother’s basement hoping a man will marry you and give you a life that you can’t achieve on your own. That’s why it sounds like a desperate, frustrated woman. Get a job and stop waiting for a man to rescue you from your own sloth.

          • Susan Nercher

            Anonymous, you don’t make any sense at all. You claim that my real name is Gayle Snercher and then you claim that I am probably a dude. Which is it? Do you just make it up as you go along? Get some therapy and a job and make something out of your life. Hating men and their advocates will get you nowhere.

          • Susan Nercher

            Oh, and Anonymous, if a person’s profile is so important to this discussion, then please provide us with your real name and profile and stop hiding behind “Anonymous.” If you are a women’s college student and/or graduate, then you should be a leader according to those who favor women’s colleges. Leaders don’t throw out baseless accusations and claim to do illegal national database searches all while hiding under Anonymous and behind TOR (which can be traced especially after posting on several forums). Information has been collected.

  • Gabrielle

    As a soon-to-be-alumna of Wellesley College, I can attest to the power of an excellent single-sex education. We just had our highest number of applicants ever and consequentially our most selective admissions rate in 30 years (http://www.wellesley.edu/news/2013/03/node/34484). 

    It’s important to recognize that the single-sex schools that are thriving, like Wellesley, have an extraordinary commitment to the liberal arts, small classes, close relationships with professors, independent research as well as internships and career guidance, tight-knit alumnae networks, etc. Many of my friends came to Wellesley not necessarily factoring its single-sex status, but instead, were attracted by the educational opportunities and the generous financial aid. Wellesley is a really good college, regardless of the fact that only women attend.Yet I’ve definitely seen the benefits of attending a single-sex education. My friends and I are more confident, more outspoken in public settings, more likely to take risks inside and outside the classroom, and more articulate about contemporary gender issues than many of our peers. Wellesley was absolutely the right choice for me and it will continue to be the right choice (and the smart choice) for many young women in the future. 

    • Epolomsk

      Wellesley, Wellesley, only to be there! Drives away my melancholy cares She charms my eye, my muscle trains, and gives me information rare!
      Alma Mater Wellesley!EP, Class of 1988

      • Susan Nercher

        Wellesley, Wellesley, of men we are scared! Drives away men who care. She closes my eye, my muscle pains, and punishes men just for being there!

    • Susan Nercher

      There are co-ed colleges that have an extraordinary commitment to the liberal arts, small classes, etc. Why do men have to be excluded from this? The only way you could become more confident is to remove men from the academic environment? What if a white person said that the only way s/he could become more confident is to remove people of color from the academic environment? Would you support that statement?

      • GuestMan

        Men are not excluded from coed colleges that have extraordinary liberal arts educations and small class sizes. You just said that. They can go to Oberlin, Ithica, etc, etc, etc…what is your point? They can even attend smaller public universities.

        • Susan Nercher

          But men are excluded from women’s colleges. That is my point. What is your point? Are you saying that it’s just fine to discriminate against a group as long as the group has other options? So if we set up a white-men-only college in New York City, that wouldn’t be racist and sexist because women and minorities can attend the City University of New York, Columbia University, New York University, New School University, Pace University, St. John’s University and all of the other universities in the area?

        • Anonymous

          Ignore “Susan.” It’s a bogus disqus account, bogus FB account, etc.. This person is a rabid MRA who goes from board to board, trolling against feminism, women,etc. If you google search that name, you’ll even find some anti-choice comments, too. It’s just a troll, and as they say, never feed the trolls.

          • Susan Nercher

            Ignore “Anonymous”. This poster admits to using fake accounts and has claimed to have conducted illegal social security number searches. The poster also claims to use TOR in order to hide her information and doesn’t seem to know that the more she posts on different websites, the more electronic trails she leaves behind. She keeps posting anti-male comments all over the Internet and is too afraid to use her real name. She is a rabid femi-nazi who clearly hates men and doesn’t believe that men should have choices. Keep posting, Anonymous. The circle is closing in. It’s amazing how desperate these misandrist trolls are. She is angry because she was trounced on a website that encourages men not to marry. If you don’t need men, why do you care if they marry or not? Not doing so well on your own?

  • Davidjohnson98

    How come this isn’t sexist?

    • Cjf11

      If young people were given only one choice, such as all women have to go to an all-woman institution, that would be sexist. Giving students a choice to study and learn in an environment that is comfortable, supportive and meets their individual needs is in no way sexist.There should never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

      • Susan Nercher

        Sexism is denying someone an opportunity just because of their gender, regardless if other opportunities exist for that gender. If a New York City restaurant refused to admit black people, would you argue that since there are plenty of other restaurants in New York City that admit black people, it’s not racism?

  • chezsoi18

    Your consultant David Strauss’s comments about women’s colleges are right on.  My daughter was accepted into a number of excellent schools but at the last minute chose Wellesley College because of their strong resources, supportive environment for women and strong reputation in her field of study.  This summer as a junior, she will be doing a coveted internship in NYC–which she was able to get through her Wellesley network–which counseled, encouraged and motivated her all the way. 

    • Susan Nercher

      And co-ed colleges don’t offer internships in NYC or elsewhere?

      • GuestMan

        Note the term “network.” Today what you can do means less than who you know when it comes to getting a job. Just as men have an Ol’ Boys’ Club, women are able to network with women’s college alum.

        • Susan Nercher

          But there shouldn’t be an Ol’ Boys’ Club or an Ol’ Girls’ Club. People should be treated according to their abilities not whether they have a penis or vagina.

  • Jennifer

    I find this to be a very sad development. I graduated from an all girls high school in 1999 and still value that educational environment immensely. In fact I have always felt that if I ever have a daughter I will go out of my way to make sure she has the same option to attend an all girls institution that I did. I came out stronger, more self confident, and better educated than I would have in a coeducational environment.

    • Susan Nercher

      If you wouldn’t have succeeded in a coeducational environment, you wouldn’t have succeeded in real life. You shouldn’t be scared and weak just because a male sits next to you in class any more than if a member of another race or religion sits next to you in class.

  • Davidjohnson98

    So a women only college… how about black only, white only, asian only, hispanic only, men only, gay only colleges?  I think we are at a tipping point.  America is supposed to be a melting pot.

    • Kkbkoss

      There are quite a few historically black colleges, such as Howard, and the majority of the all women colleges were founded in the 19th century. Wesleyan was founded by the Methodist church in 1836. There are also Catholic, Evengical, and Mormon colleges. Many school cater to a specific group. This is nothing new.

      • JC

        There are no black schools that refuse applications from white students, no Catholic schools that refuse non-Catholics; in fact, these schools tend to accept non-traditional students preferentially. Among highly-ranked colleges, it is only womens colleges who refuse entry to 50% of the population. If the tables were turned, women would protest.

    • moho-08

       You’ve apparently never heard of Wabash…

  • C12noon

    Wellesley sisters and supporters your words both satisfy and devastate me.  Our loss at Wilson is not just for our experiences but also for the loss to future generations of young women. We have not given up our fight to reverse the co-education decision at Wilson and I ask for your support. To learn more about the process that led to the vote and to find links to our efforts and petition please visit us http://www.pinesandmaples.com 

    • Susan Nercher

      More women graduate from college than men do so quit your melodrama.

      • GuestMan

        Then tell men to get out there and graduate! Or laugh at women for being foolish to spend money on college. Per your last comment you said college was a waste anyway–so maybe men are smarter, eh?

        • Susan Nercher

          Well, when women weren’t graduating from college, there was a movement to improve the educational system for women. In the 1980s, young women had problems – eating disorders, cutting themselves, teen pregnancy. But then so many programs were introduced to help women – scholarships, counseling centers, affirmative action programs, curriculum changes. Now women are doing well. So now that men are being neglected, you blame the men? And I didn’t say that colleges were a waste, where did you get that? I said that colleges that offer expensive liberal arts programs without any useful job skills are basically stealing money from students.
          You are not fooling anyone “GuestMan.” You are a women’s college student or graduate. That explains your narrow-minded view. You say whatever you have to say to support your views. And you will even pretend to be a man on a blog just because you believe that will give your own biased views more credence.

  • Glynyst

    So let me get this straight.  According to Dr. Mistick, we need to destroy women’s colleges to help women?  So do we need to eliminate black colleges to help black people?
    I mean, do we need to eliminate unemployment checks so people will work. . . .do we need.
    . .  nevermind.

    If Barbara Mistick wanted to head up the best darn coed college in America, then more power to her, but as the president of a women’s college, she should be embarrassed.  If she got more phone calls post-coed from potential women students, and more traction in enrollments from coed status, that is a severe condemnation of the college’s competence to understand its mission and recruit its target population.   

    • Cszell

      Technically black colleges can, and do, admit people of other races. They just market themselves more to black people. These womens’ colleges bar anyone who is male from attending.

      • GuestMan

        There are men’s only colleges. Both men’s and women’s colleges can admit anyone of any race/ethnicity (unless due to religious affiliation).

        • Susan Nercher

          The vast majority of men’s colleges are religious institutions. There are very few secular men’s colleges. And in the same way men’s colleges were forced to integrate, so too, should women’s colleges integrate.

    • Susan Nercher

      In a world that is becoming more diverse, multicultural and open, gender, race and ethnic colleges are becoming obsolete. Nowadays, young women realize that they have to work with people from different backgrounds and hiding out with other women for 4 years isn’t going to provide them with the experiences they need to succeed in this increasingly more competitive world. The Seven Sisters (actually it’s the Five Sisters now) continue to exist because they cater to women from wealthier families who can afford to buck the trend for now; however, with the rising costs of college tuition, even the wealthy families may feel that paying outrageous tuition for a women’s college is not a productive investment. Case in point – only 30 percent of Barnard’s living alumna contribute to Barnard. Even the graduates of Barnard College don’t feel that investing in a women’s college is productive.

  • Katy

    Robin, every time you say “all girls,” my head explodes. Women’s colleges serve women, not girls. Barnard alumnae will remember Doris, the voice of the College Activities office, who used to begin her college-wide voicemail messages with “HELLO, my strong, beautiful Barnard women!” Calling the students at women’s colleges “girls” changes the conversation fundamentally by placing the educational model on unequal footing. 

    -Barnard ’04

    • Susan Nercher

      If those Barnard women were strong and beautiful, then they should fight for theright of men to attend Barnard College. I guess the feminists believe that discrimination is okay as long as it’s the women who are doing it.

      • GuestMan

        Men can attend any other colleges or universities they desire, what’s the big deal? You act as though there is this huge group of men that want to attend that school. I’m sure they’re fine with Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, etc.

        • Susan Nercher

          So when a college practices race and gender discrimination, it’s fine as long as there are other colleges that allow them in? Barnard College is affiliated with Columbia University. If a female applicant can’t get into Columbia University, she can still apply to Barnard College and if accepted, she can still put down Barnard College/Columbia University on her resume. Now if a male applicant can’t get into Columbia University, he can’t apply to Barnard College because he is male. That is unfair gender discrimination. That is the big deal. And whether or not men want to attend Barnard College or not is not the issue. The issue is discrimination. No institution should unfairly discriminate on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. regardless of whether these groups have other options.

  • Anne Schmidt

    Robin: please stop referring to colleges like Wilsdon and Wellesley as “gilrs’ colleges.” Would you refer to the U.S. Military colleges as “boys’ schools?”  Just another way women experience subtle discrimination — even in our language!

    • Cszell

      The military colleges are now co-ed. I guess male college students are still called “boys” but it is far better to say “women’s college”.

      • Susan Nercher

        Nothing wrong with using the terms “girls” or “boys.” Enough with the censorship already.

        • GuestMan

          If that’s how you feel, stop trying to censor people who feel strongly about their alma maters. Where did you go to school–even elementary school? You are allowed to speak fondly of it here if you’d like. It’d be great to hear you say something positive.

          • Susan Nercher

            How am I censoring anyone? They are the ones who are censoring people by preventing them from using the term “girls.” And just because you are fond of your alma mater, doesn’t mean that it treated others who were different from you unfairly. It’d be great to hear you say something intelligent.

    • Susan Nercher

      So now referring to a women’s college as girls’ colleges is discrimination? Wow. More restrictions of free speech by the feminists. And if you were really women, you would be able to succeed in an academic environment that included men.

      • GuestMan

        So you wouldn’t mind being referred to as a little girl, Susan?

        • Susan Nercher

          As long as I am treated with respect, what difference does it make? If someone calls you a big man but then discriminates against you because you are male, GuestMan, would you be happy with that?

  • John Barrett

    Colorado Women’s College became affiliated with the University of Denver years ago and changed its name to represent that collaboration. While maintaining its affiliation with DU, the school is taking back its original name, CWC, according to the most recent U of D Magazine for alum.

    • C12noon

      Wow thank you for that comment John. This seems a reasonable example of the increased interest in women’s colleges. 

      • Susan Nercher

        Yes, and perhaps we should set up a black men’s college and an Asian women’s colleges and so on. I mean, if there is an increased interest in segregated education, let’s go all the way and start at the kindegarten level.

  • Kim

    When I went to college, I chose a private school that turned co-ed the year I entered.  I chose the school because it had a rare, four-year degree in the field I was interested in. After two-years, I left.  There were several reasons, but one of the things that I felt was that the school was not promoting women and their strengths in the ways that I had expected.  In fact, the hypocrisy of it became even more evident with the introduction of men.  Behaviors that were overlooked, broken rules in regards to who and what entered dorm rooms, alcohol use, expectations in class all seemed to immediately favor the men.  I felt I had never been in such a sexist environment.  

    This may have been the culture of this particular school as opposed to the overall culture of all women college’s, but I caution that the idea that an all-women school is a supportive and nurturing and empowering environment for women is not always the case.  

    • Susan Nercher

      That sounds like poor enforcement of the rules. Perhaps the expectations favored the men in class because the men were needed in order to keep the college going. Plenty of co-ed colleges have strict rules about who enters dorms, alcohol use and such.

  • Joanne

    David Johnson, your question (“Why isn’t this sexist?”) is a good one — and it does have an answer.  Men are not disadvantaged by women’s colleges.  I teach at a women’s college (soon to be a university) where we do not claim to be all things to all people.  Rather we are proud of the excellent education we provide to those who choose to attend.  The diversity of options and of contexts is still important in our not-yet-equal world.

    • Davidjohnson98

      Joanne, I still don’t find a logical argument.  A “diversity of options…” sounds like an argument to support why Boy Scouts should be able to not admit girls, because girls have other diversity of options to join …Girl Scouts.  Diversity of other options should not prevent me from selecting from all options. 

      I am very much for equal rights, and am against all hold outs from this concept.  Either we are all equal or we are not.  Any stubborn sticking up from the deck, should be hammered down so we don’t stub our toes on racism, sexism, or any other ‘ism.

      • Davidjohnson98

        stubborn nails

      • Susan Nercher

        Well said.

    • Cszell

      There are a few men’s colleges left, but another thing to think about is nowadays a majority of college students are women. Because colleges want balanced demographics, a woman with a certain level of skills and qualifications is more likely to be rejected than a man with that same level of skills and qualifications because there are more women competing for colleges than men.

      • Susan Nercher

        So deny men their opportunities in order to create more opportunities for women? Whenever there is more competition, we should create more gender discrimination?

        • GuestMan

          Um this person is saying that men actually have an advantage when applying to coed colleges because they are now needed to balance the demographics. In other words, women’s colleges aren’t really hurting men’s opportunities.

          • Susan Nercher

            So if men are now needed to balance the demographics, we should integrate women’s colleges so that the demographics are balanced instead of continuing to engage in gender-segregated colleges. So, because men are not going to college as much as women do, we need to keep women-only colleges? Really?

  • Lisa

    As a graduate of a women’s college, I felt myself shudder to my core every time I heard the reference to “all-girl’s schools” in this story.  That dimishment itself undermines the legitimacy of single-sex institutions, and instead calls to mind the sit-com, “The Facts of Life.” I can assure you my college experience was nothing like that. Proof  perfect that perception problem faced by single-sex education is still very much in effect, 25 years after my decision to matriculate to a women’s college.
    Chatham College ’91

    • Susan Nercher

      If you are so proud of your women’s college experience, what difference does it make if someone calls it an “all-girl’s school?” If you are claiming that keeping out boys, men, whatever, makes your college so superior, why do you shudder at the term “all-girls school?” Maybe because girls are not really women if they can’t compete with men?

      • GuestMan

        “Maybe because girls are not really women if they can’t compete with men?” What are you trying to say? You just helped to support Lisa’s cause.

        • Susan Nercher

          What I am saying is that if you can’t compete with men and need to be in an environment where there are no men around in order to compete, you are not really mature. You are clearly a women’s college student or graduate and your comments support the cause that women’s colleges should go co-ed. Stop hiding behind “GuestMan.” To use your own logic as evidenced by your comments above, why would a man be such an advocate for women’s colleges?

  • Marjie Baker

    The program  at Wilson in the 50″s was arduous and challenging.  Of course, women became leaders, if they were not already the leaders from their high schools.  But just because the college educated women does not mean that there werenot sexists on the faculty at that time.   I will never forget the time the male head of the English Department defended the all male literature offerings by saying that women did not have the  ability to create great literature.  Later, when I taught at a coed liberal arts college in the 70′s, a young prof defended that department’s all male reading lists by saying that there was no writing by women which was worthy of comparison to that of men.  Prejudice against women is still evidenced today in colleges and universities.  That all being said, I agree with the decision that Wilson should admit men.  Today, their presence is not going to hold women back.  I think this change will enable Wilson to survive, and to  continue to offer an excellent education. Emancipated women and men in the administration, on the faculty and in the student body – as in the wider world - still need to constantly hold everyone’s feet to the fire to assure equal opportunity and respect.  Marjie Baker “59

    • Terry Dankel Counselman

       hello Marjie,
      Three cheers for you!  Well said and, in my opinion, the ONLY way Wilson can survive.
      The BIGGER world is CO-ED!  Where there’s a will, there’s a way……I admit to having a challenging undergraduate education; but. to this day, I feel I missed something by being in an all women’s environment for 4 years.  Strong women can always be heard if they wish.  I would NEVER choose to work again for a woman!  Classmate, Terry Dankel Counselman

    • Susan Nercher

      So now anything written by males is taboo? And how is discriminating against men assuring equal opportunity and respect? The only way for women to rise is to keep men down?

      • GuestMan

        You clearly didn’t read any of their comments. They are for the school going coed.

        • Susan Nercher

          You clearly didn’t read my comments. I am for gender equality. Just because some man made some negative comments about women doesn’t mean that all men feel that way. The fact that anyone thought that men would hold women back is ridiculous. A few male bigots do not represent all men any more than a few female bigots do not represent all women.

  • Jenni Rodda

    I graduated from Wilson in 1978.  When looking at colleges in the early ’70s, I looked *only* at women’s colleges, many of which, now, either no longer exist, or have gone coed.  I chose Wilson for its combination of rigorous academics, placement of its graduates in superior graduate schools (in all areas:  law, medicine, and in my case, art history), reasonable price, and rural location close enough to Washington and Philadelphia that they were easy day trips away.  What made Wilson a special place then was the combination of diverse student body, caring faculty, educational opportunity–and the fact that we were *encouraged to become a leaders.*  I would not be the person I am today, were it not for the education I received at Wilson College.  Upon leaving Wilson and heading to graduate school, I was fully prepared to stand up for myself in *any* environment, all the stronger and more confident for having gone to a women’s college.  Wilson should remain what it has always been–a place for women to grow into the leaders they must become to help shape life in the rest of the world.

    • Susan Nercher

      How can a women’s college have a “diverse student body” when they don’t admit men? How can someone become a leader if they can’t be in an academic environment with someone from another gender? You need a special environment that only focuses on your gender in order for you to succeed? So if you attended a co-ed college, you would have been a failure?

      • GuestMan

        A women’s college can be quite diverse. They enroll women of all economic class, a variety of religions (even some that are sent only because it is all women, Muslim), and ethnicities. Men work on campus at various positions, even as professors, so it isn’t like the students are isolated from a man or his point of view.

        • Susan Nercher

          The fact that it’s a “women’s college” proves that it is not diverse as it can be. There should be male students of different backgrounds as well, not just male employees.

  • JC

    I am a woman who went to a traditionally all-male university when it was pressured to accept women in the 70′s. At that time the alum were unhappy with the loss of their traditions and character of the school, but I think today everyone recognizes that it was the right move to make. I am amazed and disturbed that despite demands that men’s colleges accept women, women’s colleges have been allowed to remain single-sex for decades. In an age when women take up to 60% of the spots at co-ed liberal arts colleges, it seems unfair to deny men the opportunity to compete for spots at all-womens schools. It definitely seems like women are asking to have their cake and eat it too. I am sure that men applying to college would like to have the same options!

    • Majolica

      First of all, no one “made” any male schools accept women.  They gave into the pressure to do so. Talking about how you’re disturbed that women’s colleges “have been allowed” to remain women’s colleges is what I find disturbing.  Private institutions can make these decisions for themselves without being “allowed” to do so. 

      The push to make all-male colleges coed came about because most of the male colleges opened more doors to better jobs and academic advancement than women’s colleges did at the time.  It’s indisputable that in the 1960′s graduating Harvard did more, overall, for men than graduating from Radcliffe did for women.  It’s indisputable too that it was more advantageous career-wise to be part of the Harvard network than the Radcliffe network.

      It’s also indisputable that the all-male colleges were frequently denying admission to women on the basis that women were not thought, as a group, to be as intelllectually capable.  That such has been disproved is borne out by the fact you’ve just pointed out – 60% of the spots at co-ed liberal colleges are taken by women.

      That said, there are still four men’s colleges, and anyone can start one tomorrow if he likes!

      • Susan Nercher

        What kind of logic is that? No one “made” male schools accept women, it’s just that the male schools gave into pressure to do so? That’s what pressure is – making someone do something that they don’t want to do. And people pushed all-male colleges to go co-ed because most of the male colleges opened more doors to better jobs and academic advancement? Okay, following that logic, since more women have more opportunities today than men do (more men dropping out of school, more men unemployed, more men going to jail, more men are homeless) then women’s colleges should be pressured to make all-women’s colleges co-ed. Why start a men’s college when you can just pressure an established, wealthy women’s college to admit men?

    • Cszell

      Of all college students a majority are female so that factor may have influenced more all-women colleges into staying alive. Since co-ed colleges often want balanced demographics it means a male with a certain amount of qualifications is more likely to get a sport than a female with the same qualifications.

      • Susan Nercher

        Then we should look for ways to determine why a majority of college students are female. Are our elementary and high schools failing boys and young men in some way? You don’t just discriminate against boys and young men just because there are issues in academic environments.

        • GuestMan

          AMEN! Thank you! It is education before the college level that is failing males.

          • Susan Nercher

            Exactly, so why are we exacerbating the problem at the primary school level by continuing to maintain women’s colleges? Males need more help than females do when it comes to education. AMEN!

          • Susan Nercher

            AMEN! Thank you for agreeing that education before the college level is failing males! So tell me, what do we do about it? Or are you saying who cares if education fails males and just focus on creating more women’s colleges?

          • Susan Nercher

            AMEN! Thank you for acknowledging that! So now what do we do about it? Or are you saying who cares?

    • GuestMan

      Do your research. Um, the reason for the drop in male enrollment doesn’t have to do with choice–it has to do with a changing society where men are not fairing as well as women in the classroom in public schools. This comes from a NY Times piece, which I will leave the link to, but know some will mis-construe…maybe single sex ed is helpful for some! “WHAT might we do to help boys improve? For one thing, we can follow the example of the British, the Canadians and the Australians. They have openly addressed the problem of male underachievement. They are not indulging boys’ tendency to be inattentive. Instead, they are experimenting with programs to help them become more organized, focused and engaged. These include more boy-friendly reading assignments (science fiction, fantasy, sports, espionage, battles); more recess (where boys can engage in rough-and-tumble as a respite from classroom routine); campaigns to encourage male literacy; more single-sex classes; and more male teachers (and female teachers interested in the pedagogical challenges boys pose).”

      http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/02/the-boys-at-the-back/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

      • Susan Nercher

        So……are you suggesting all-boy or men’s colleges?

  • Diane

    If you’re a woman outraged by this, pay double in tuition and I’m sure they’ll keep it the same. This same situation happened to Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, as well as many others across the nation. It is not affordable to be a single-sex college. 

  • Margaret Killmer, PhD

    David Strauss noted that women’s colleges need to articulate a value other than being a women’s college. Wilson College in addition to offering strong academics–especially in science–offers equine studies, a VMT program and the Fulton Farm center for sustainable living and organic farming. It is tragic that the college board of trustees voted to change the college with a 144-year tradition of educating women of many social/economic backgrounds from around the world into a coed school with a local emphasis on job training.

    • Susan Nercher

      With the cost of college tuition rising along with student loan debt, colleges should offer more emphasis on job training. The world is becoming more competitive and colleges that offer expensive liberal arts programs without any useful job skills are basically stealing money from students.

  • e88

    I should add that I went to Wellesley, not because it was an all womens college
    but because it had (and still has) one of the best, most prestigious undergraduate Astronomy programs.

    But the environment also nurtered and encouraged smart, strong, outspoken women.
    I am now a physics professor at a Coed University and what a difference it is.
    Recently I heard a faculty member say: we seem to be doing a good job to encourage
    female undergrads to major in Physics…

    Really?!! is DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING doing a good job?!!
    Less than a 20%  of our majors are women, yet 60+% of the undergrad population
    are women!!

    I am one of only two women faculty members in my department.
    From conversations with the other faculty members, this thought never occurred to them. All others attended Coed colleges.

    -argh.

    • Susan Nercher

      Maybe women in general are not interested in Physics in the same way that men in general are not interested in elementary school teaching, social work and nursing. And if everything has to be 50/50, then why are more men unemployed, homeless and in jail? Why are more men not given sole or joint custody of their own children? Why aren’t there more men receiving alimony and child support when compared with women? Why don’t men live as long as women do? I mean, if we want 50/50 statistical parity, then let’s go all the way.

  • Starrmark

    “Faced with declining enrollment and huge deficits,…”
    Although the Wilson  College Board of Trustees presented the numbers as dire and reported that the college stood on a financial cliff, once the decision to go co-ed was announced, President Mistick told a Harrisburg public radio host that Wilson’s debt was very reasonable for a college of its size.
    When colleges such as Sweetbriar and Hollins that are not in metropolitan areas continue to thrive and serve the needs of young women and the broader community, it still is not clear why President Mistick and the Board of Trustees chose the co-ed option before implementing the other changes recommended by its own commission.
    Wilson College is located in south-central Pennsylvania within two hours of Baltimore and Washington, DC. It excels in the sciences and traditional liberal arts disciplines; it offers an outstanding multifaceted equestrian program; its veterinary tech program not only produces exceptional vet technicians, but many students decide to go to veterinary school.
    Since 1869, Wilson College has stood proudly with all of the other unique women’s colleges, and it has educated young women to take roles of leadership wherever they find themselves because they have already been leaders in their educational community.

    • Susan Nercher

      And what about offering men more chances to take roles of leadership. So many men are dropping out of school. Will society benefit from a plethora of uneducated, unproductive men with no futures?

  • patterntrader

    I’m sorry but women are not a minority group, they are actually the majority group by population.  Also, from where I stand, they get far more aid from the government throughout their life than men.  This only makes women MORE dependent on government, not more independent as citizens.  If women want waste four years of their life in a sheltered environment that in no ways resembles the real world, this will only make them less competitive in the workforce.  Getting a degree in liberal arts is already a fairly unproductive endeavor.  Why compound it?

    • Cszell

      Women are often treated as a virtual minority because they historically didn’t have opportunities men had, but it’s true that the benefits of affirmative action often go to wealthy white women.

      Now that a majority of undergrads are women, it means men are more “valuable” to a college, so a male who has a number of qualifications are more likely to get in than a female with that number.

      The undergrad degree is increasingly becoming like a high school diploma.

      • Susan Nercher

        Men have always been treated as an expendable majority. They were the ones that were expected to work all of the time to support families. The lands and the seas are filled with the unmarked graves of men who have died in war and manual labor. The vast majority of men were not rich, powerful sexists who gathered in plush offices figuring out ways to deny women opportunities. Most men had no opportunities at all and did their best to support their families. And if the undergrad degree is becoming more like a high school diploma, then segregated colleges based on gender will only accelerate that trend.

  • Jenni Rodda

    Those of us protesting the decision of the Board of Trustees at Wilson have asked  that the College try all the other avenues suggested by the Commission to increase enrollment and revenue *before* going co-ed; we feel that co-ed should be the last thing done, not the first.  None of the explanatory materials sent by the College to alums has explained *why* the success of the other changes being implemented hinge on the College going co-ed.  So far, the only reason given for going co-ed is that it will increase the pool of potential students.  Well, yes, it will do that.  But so would better admissions outreach to female students across the board.

     

    • Susan Nercher

      And what about better admission outreach to male students across the board? More men drop out of school than women do, especially black men? So are these men expendable?

  • Cszell

    Men can enter women’s studies courses. I’m sure there is some court talking about equal establishment regarding to gender. There are still all-male colleges but there aren’t many left.

    • Susan Nercher

      But men can’t enter into women’s colleges in order to take advantage of their resources. Perhaps those women’s colleges should be sued.

  • Susan Nercher

    So you don’t believe in peoplehood or brotherhood, only sisterhood. Who cares if men have limited opportunities to advance their education? Feminists complain about the glass ceiling for women but love the idea of a concrete dungeon for men.

  • Taishanese

    The irony of this, is that the best way to ensure that women’s only colleges survive, is to bring back men only institutions.

    And it’s quite simple why. When you get rid of all the male only colleges, it creates a broader set of choices for women college applicants but not conversely for the male applicants. This broader choice for women sort of softens the pool of those going into women’s colleges. And the fact that men can only attend co-ed schools strengthens the co-ed schools because there are no male only schools for men to go to.

    I’m not advocating bringing back male only colleges, but stating the economic realities of having such a one sided system on why women only colleges are facing economic troubles.

    Women only colleges will not disappear. But don’t be surprised that they continue to go co-ed until only the strongest ones survive (and those few will thrive).

    • Susan Nercher

      I am not so sure that women-only colleges will not disappear. With the cost of college tuition rising, many are questioning the value of attending college at all. Most women-only colleges tend to be liberal arts colleges and the trend tends to favor colleges that offer more professional and technical programs. If women-only colleges try to offer more professional and technical programs, they open themselves up to more lawsuits. For example, if a women-only college creates a bachelors degree in accounting, one could argue that the college is denying men the right to enter a profession. Would the state board of accounting accredit such a program since it excludes certain people because they are male? A professional license should not be restricted to a certain gender. Considering the fact that more men are dropping out of college or not attending college at all, I don’t think that a women-only college that focuses on training women for the professions will garner any sympathy from government regulators or the courts since the professions are meant to be diverse and offer opportunities to all. I don’t think a women-only medical school or a women-only law school will be able to achieve any professional accreditations or funding to carry out their missions without strict legal scrutiny.

  • Susan Nercher

    When colleges that exclude groups on the basis of gender are eliminated, that’s when we will truly have more diversity and opportunity for all. Boys and girls don’t need to attend gender-segregated colleges because there are thousands of co-ed colleges. Any college that segregates a group based on gender cannot claim that it is offering a varied academic experience.

  • Susan Nercher

    You are without a doubt one of the most ignorant persons I have seen trolling a website along with the “Anonymous” troll above. Perhaps you two are the same person. You both post under bogus names to hide your identity. You clearly don’t know anything about education. We are the USA and are supposed to be about equality. Let’s say someone doesn’t do well in a multicultural environment (i.e., they don’t want non-whites in the classroom because they are nervous about them)? According to your logic, we should set up racially segregated colleges? And women can attend Harvard, Yale, Princeton and thousands of other amazing institutions so why do we need women’s colleges? What about the men who can’t attend Harvard, Yale, Princeton? What about the men who would like to attend a local women’s college because it has the curriculum they want and is nearby?

    And your last statement reveals your ignorance.
    “By being “tolerant and concerned about EVERYONE’S rights” you are being intolerant.”
    So by being tolerant and concerned about marriage equality for gays, are we being intolerant towards heterosexual marriage?
    By being tolerant and concerned about women’s right to vote in the past, we were being intolerant about men’s rights?
    Is this what you learned in your women’s college? That being tolerant and concerned about EVERYONE’S rights, you are being intolerant? Goodness. More proof that women’s colleges should cease to exist.

  • Susan Nercher

    How about the fact that women attack other women as well? Read the book, Woman-to-Woman Sexual Violence: Does She Call It Rape? How the hell can’t you see that women can be detrimental to women?

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