Race relations

Asian Girl Finds Difference


The only foreign student at Dickinson during the 1962-3 year was Hsiao Mei Tsou from Singapore. She remarks in this article on the differences between America and Singapore, most notably that girls never talked to boys back home. Very studious, she works often in the library but wishes that it were open later, but finds the Dickinson students very helpful. In Singapore, about half of children go to school and even less complete post secondary education. Hsaio loves the United States and thinks she wants to stay after graduation.

Phi Mu's Membership Statement


To further prove that Phi Mu’s refusal to allow a bid to go to an African American student was unjust, the creators of the soon-to-be Alpha Delta Epsilon sorority included in their scrapbook the membership statement of Phi Mu.

"Personal Adventures in Race Relations : We Need Atomic Understanding!"


"Personal Adventures in Race Relations" by Esther Popel Shaw (class of1919), Dickinson's first African American female graduate, was published in 1946. It addresses the sources of prejudice and racism, and she urges in her introduction that cooperation is necessary to overcome these detrimental assumptions regarding African Americans. "At a time when all our energies are needed to meet and solve together the crucial problems of the postwar period, we find a large element of the population torn by resentment, suspicion and hatred.

Esther Popel Shaw's Letter to Mr. Spahr

September 5, 1945

This letter, dated September 5, 1945, was written by Esther Popel Shaw, the first African American female graduate of Dickinson College 1919, to Mr. Boyd Lee Spahr of the Board of Trustees. Writing from her post at the National Association of College Women, Esther Popel Shaw defends herself and her race against Spahr's "apparent lack of awareness of what constitutes acceptable designations when racial references are involved" as well as racial injustice when it comes to college housing for African American students.

A Female Graduate Recalls Sorority Life in the 1960s

March, 1979

In one of the responses from the "Women as Leaders Survey" from 1979, a female graduate of the class of 1969 writes on her experiences with Greek Life at Dickinson. She mentions that social life at Dickinson could be restrictive in forming relationships with people because "people were stereotyped...in those years (frat vs.

Sororities at Dickinson: Do they serve a purpose?

November 15, 1963

In an article entitled "Analysis Suggests Sororities at Dickinson Serve No Purposes and Produce Barriers," a writer for The Dickinsonian explores whether or not sororities are justifiable at a liberal arts college. The author argues that it is not difficult to make friends on a small campus and that there is a psychological danger to the rejection some face at the hands of sororities. Moreover, the author called for sororities to justify their existence, especially in light of the discrimination they practiced toward black women.

"I was a Co-ed": Coeducation in Dickinson's Prep School


In her memoir recounting her time at Dickinson, Elizabeth Low remembers her early days as a female student in the Preparatory School. She explained that there was little hostitlity toward female students in the Prep School. She explains that "There was not co-ed problem in the Prep. The boys made no distinction. Had we been refused admission to the society, we would have taken English in class." According to Low, however, black students were not affroded the same acceptance as white female students.

Discrimination in the 1920s

April 21, 1994

Frances Vuilleumier (Class of 1924) explains in an interview that her sorority, Phi Mu, did not extend membership to black or Jewish students, adding that there "was probably some[one] else we didn't allow." Calling Phi Mu exclusive, she explains that these practices were normal during that period. She points to the 1960s as the decade in which "they didn't stand for that anymore," although the national chapter of some sororities, according to Vuilleumer, still prevented the pledging of minority women.

Chi Omega and Discrimination during the 1950s

March 28, 1988

According to Jane Myer Sellers (Class of 1955), there were no women of color and only one or two men of color at Dickinson during the 1950s. She reports that there were "a few Asian girls" who were considered to be minority students. The only sorority that accepted minority students, says Sellers, was Pi Phi.

Chi Omega and Discrimination during World War II

December 15, 1989

Wilma B. Prescott (Class of 1945) describes in an interview the discrimination that the sorority Chi Omega practiced during the World War II. According to Prescott, the Chi Omegas discriminated in their membership policies, which explains why the sorority is no longer on campus. Chi Omegas could not take "oriental or Jewish" members into the sorority. As Prescott explains, "You were a WASP...." Prescott points to the war as an explanation for discrimination against the Japanese in their membership policies.