August 28, 1984 · Cavalier Daily

Washington & Lee to Admit Women Next Year

After conducting studies and surveying student and faculty opinion, Washington and Lee University decides to admit female students. A majority of faculty polled voted in favor of making the university coeducational.


1984-08-28 Washington & Lee to Admit Women Next Year.pdf
1984-08-28 Washington & Lee to Admit Women Next Year part 2.pdf
Marie Joyce
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Washington & Lee to Admit Women Next Year
Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
More than 600 women have requested information from Washington & Lee University since the announcement this gummer that W&L would admit women to its two undergraduate schools beginning next fall.
W&L’s Board of Trustees voted 17-7 on July 14 to admit female undergraduate applicants. The university Law School has admitted women since 1972.
“The education of tomorrow's leaders will be strengthened by the presence of men and women in the classroom,” said Jeff Hanna, director of W&L’s news office.
He said the board an intensive study of coeducation’s possible rammifications [sic] to the 235-year-old school, which had been one of a handful of all-male institutions left in the United States.
The study covered such areas as academics, the physical plant, social life, living arrangements and intercollegiate and intramural athletics, Hanna said.
In addition, a W&L sociology class surveyed the opinions of students and faculty members toward coeducation, he said.
While 42.4 percent of students surveyed were in favor of admitting undergraduate women 83 percent of the faculty members questioned felt the university should become coeducational.
Hanna said the board also commissioned Southeastern Institute of Research to survey alumni opinions on coeducation.
Of the 6,700 alumni who responded 58.5 percent said they opposed coeducation, while 28.9 percent were in favor and 10.6 expressed no preference.
Hanna said board members voted to accept women partly because the number of high school graduates nationwide has declined by about 25 percent in the last 10 years. He added the board’s decision was not due to financial considerations.
Bruce Potter, of The Ring-tum Phi, W&Vs student newspaper, said demographics were an important factor in the Trustees’ ruling.
There was a study done which showed if the school maintained its admission standards and financial aid, the freshman class in 1995 would have 270 students instead of 370." Potter said.
Potter said the coeducation study was initiated by W&L's new president, John D. Wilson.
"He wanted to get the question of coeducation solved once and for all so could get on with managing the university,” Potter said.
Although Wilson placed the question before the Board of Trustees, "He was not an outspoken advocate of coeducation,” Potter said.
He added the president never indicated that he was in favor of coeducation until he voted for it at the meeting on July 14.
“Wilson was the catalyst of the study, not the catalyst of coeducation," Potter added.
Hanna said the president never advocated coeducation to the university community.
“I think [Wilson] was very even-handed in the way he went about it,” Hanna said.
At W&L’s May Commencement exercises Wilson “made a statement laying out the facts as he saw them, making no prejudgement on what the board should do or would do,” Hanna said.
He said a coeducation committee will be named to smooth over W&L’s transition to coeducation. The committee will be comprised of faculty, administration, male undergraduate students and male and female law students, he added.
The board announced its decision on a Saturday. By the following Monday, W&L’s admissions office had received several requests for admission information from women, Hanna said.
He added, “three young women came to the office that Monday.”
That day, the office also mailed letters to 500women who requested information when the university first announced its intent to study the issue in October, he said.
“three weeks after the announcement, the university had received 150 inquiries unsolicited by the office of admissions,” Hanna said.
W&L’s admissions office usually begins recruiting for September’s freshman class during April of the previous year, Hanna said.
Because the Trustees approved coeducation in July, he said the University is “behind other schools” in recruiting women for the class entering the school in 1985.
He said he could not determine exactly how many women would be in that class until the school begins its admissions process, but he estimated there will be between 60 and 90 women in a class of approximately 360.
“Ten years from now, the university might be raising its total enrollment by no more than 150,” he said, so the student body would consist of 500 women and 1000 men.
Some students expressed opposition throughout the year to coeducation.
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Date Added August 8, 2016
Date Modifed December 11, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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