September 12, 1985 · Cavalier Daily

New Women Meet With Praise

Student and faculty reactions to Washington and Lee's admission of its first 107 female students are largely positive. The university continues to work through its transition from an all-male to a coeducational institution, including creating accommodation for female students.


1985-09-12 - New Women Meet With Praise.pdf
1985-09-12 - New Women Meet With Praise part 2.pdf
Karen Hannigan
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
New Women Meet With Praise
Cavalier Daily Associate Editor
The entrance of 107 females members of the freshman class at Washington & Lee University — the first female undergraduates ever admitted to the university — caused a stir everywhere from the college’s Lexington campus to France, according to W&L communications director Jeff Hanna.
Becausee Washington & Lee was once of the three non-military all-male schools in the nation, its move to implement coeducation has made headlines “as far away as Paris," Hanna said.
The decision caused various reactions within the school. "At first, students and alumni were reluctant to make the change, while the faculty was overwhelmingly in favor of the change," W&L press director Brian Shaw said.
"Afte 249 years of tradition, there are going to be some negative feelings, but now that the decision has made, I think people realize that nothing is going to be gained by sticking their lip out" at the women, he said.
The transition to a coeducational campus was aided by the work of a committee charged with studying the problems involved in accommodating the entering women.
The resulting freshman class — about 400 men and 107 women – now must adjust to the new situation. "Everything so far has gone very smoothly," Hanna said, and several students said they agree
Student president John Lewis said, "We're excited to have the girls here," adding the women seem to be adjusting well.
"I absolutely love it so far — everyone is so friendly,” freshman Katherine Bordman said. "l have had no negative experiences since I've been here.”
Some changes the University made in preparation for the women's arrival includes installing $50,000 worth of on additional lighting, implementing a new policy that requires security guards to wear uniforms, and building an alternate entrance to the weight room.
One problem the University continues to face is housing. At the moment, some students are doubled up in dorm rooms intended for single students, but Shaw explained that this is not a unique situation and has little to do with the women. '"There’s often a the [sic] problem of size and the women have little to do with this," he said.
Instead of building new dorms especially for the women, the University has blocked off floors or wings in the three existing freshmen dorms to house the women, Shaw said.
He added the hall itself has the right to vote on the visitation times.
The school's Board of Trustees, acting as a committee, made the decision to admit women last July after twenty years of study, he said.
Hanna said a primary reason behind the move was a feeling "that it was time" to join institutions in admitting women, but another University official said the major reason was a decline in the number of applicants.
"When you admit only men, you are denying yourself one-half of applicant potential," Shaw said. Low application numbers, along with a decline in applicants' SAT scores moved officials to make the decision, Shaw added.
The decision and subsequent entrance of women seems to have had the desired effect. Hanna said there was a 76 increase in the number of male and female applicants.
Date Added January 4, 2017
Date Modifed December 9, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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