Social Opinion Survey

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Social Opinion Survey

The newly-formed Women's Group issued the "Social Opinion Survey" in the hopes of learning "the opinions of students concerning the social atmosphere, the academic situation, and housing" as well as "the relationships between the sexes." The Group claimed to be issuing the survey in conjunction with Dean Mary Francis Carson. Some examples of questions in the survey include:
All other things being equal, would you prefer your present dorm to be coed in some form?
Do you feel there is a set standard or pattern for relationships with the opposite sex at Dickinson?

Date: 1971-72
This will have little impact on our campus

President Howard L. Rubendall responded to Chauncey M. Depuy's inquiry about the Social Opinion Survey of the Women's Group. According to Rubendall, this survey represents the "first evidence" of the Women's Liberation movement at Dickinson College, but he assures Depuy that "this will have little impact on our campus, which in the main is a campus of serious students getting their parents' money's worth...." Rubendall writes that the campus has been able to adapt to the lives of students while not giving into pressures or demands.

Date: March 20, 1972
Dear Sam

President of the College Howard L. Rubendall responded to Samuel W. Witwer's letter in regards to the Social Opinion Survey of the Women's Group. He assures Witwer that Dean of Women Mary F. Carson had nothing to do with the survey and was offended by it. He adds that the Women's Group is not part of the mainstream or the sorority group at Dickinson College and was considered by peers to be "stupid and ridiculous." The president also tells the story of a Commencement speaker who inquired after the presence of the Women's Liberation Movement on campus.

Date: August 29, 1972
Dear Bud

The president of the Board of Trustees, Samuel W. Witwer, wrote to the president of the College, Howard L. Rubendall, in regards to the Women's Group "Social Opinion Survey." Witwer had heard complaints about the survey but had ignored them until he received a copy of the questionnaire. He referred to the survey as "cheap, tawdry, ill mannered, and bad taste [sic]." He suggests that members of the Women's Group "must be totally preoccupied with matters of sex." He insists that the College does not permit a wide variety of sexual conduct.

Date: August 16, 1972
Not in the Mainstream

Paul E. Kaylor reported his meeting with Dean Mary Carson regarding the Women's Group Social Opinion Survey in a memorandum to President Howard L. Rubendall. Kaylor gives the background of the Women's Group, stating that students "not normally in the 'mainstream' of campus life" formed it the previous year. As a student organization, the group does not fall under rigid administrative control, though, according to Kaylor, the administration had been working to channel the group's efforts.

Date: August 21, 1972
Bringing down all Dickinson women

In his response to Dean of Women Mary Watson Carson, Alumni Trustee Vincent Schafmeister says of the Social Opinion Survey of the Women's Group, "sort of shakes up an old, stuffy conservative such as I." He declines the dean's offer to put him into contact with members of the group in order to determine their objectives, saying he is more interested in the role of the Office of Student Services in encouraging this organization. He references the "frightful negatives" and the suffering of the college as consequences of this kind of encouragement.

Date: March 23, 1972
The Women's Group

Responding to Vincent Schafmeister's request for a clearer copy of the Social Opinion Survey distributed by the Women's Group, Dean of Women Mary Watson Carson procures a copy from the Women's Group and encloses it in her letter to Schafmeister.

Date: March 14, 1972
Some Flak

Alumni Trustee Vincent J. Schafmeister, Jr. wrote to Dean of Women Mary Francis Carson requesting a clearer copy of the Social Opinion Survey distributed by the Women's Group. Schafmeister expresses his concern over some of the questions in the survey, claiming that he would be "compelled to speak to this business at the Commencement Weekend meeting of the Board of Trustees."

Date: March 10, 1972
Not the type of questionnaire I would prepare

Dean of Women Mary Watson Carson sends a memo to Dr. Rubendall regarding the "Social Opinion Survey" of the Women's Group. She explains that she did not give permission for them to attach her name to the survey. According to the dean, the Women's Group distributed the questionnaire in residence halls and mail boxes. Dean Carson reports that the group formed early in the fall and invited some faculty women to meet with them. The same week that Carson wrote this letter, Student Senate officially recognized the group as an organization.

Date: March 9, 1972