In the February 23, 2006 Dickinsonian, Lizzy Price opines that gender does not belong at all in the admissions selection process.
In 1972 on October 5, 6 and 8, Dickinson held a seminar on women in
coordination with the Bicentennial Homecoming the same weekend.Â The
seminar was "designed to examine the political, educational, legal, and
social conditions in our society which sometimes tend to reduce women's
participation as full partners with men in many aspects of life."Â It was the first seminar on women ever held at Dickinson
and included a play by the Mermaid Players, speeches, workshops and
exhibits.Â C. Delores Tucker, Secretary of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, was the major speaker.Â
Dickinson Magazine chronicles the birth of coeducation at the college.Â In 1877 a committee considered "the advisability of admitting ladies," and the next year faculty voted almost unanimously that women should attend Dickinson - a single professor, Henry Harman, opposed the idea.Â He was still opposed in 1883, when a faculty vote nonetheless approved admission of women to the college.Â Although Harman may never have warmed to the idea of women at Dickinson, he did agree in 1896 to have his name ironically attached to a newly-formed women's literary society.
In a letter to Dickinson College Historian Charles Coleman Sellers, Elizabeth Anna Low agrees to write her account of early coeducation at Dickinson College. However, she asked Sellers to be more clear on what he expected. In the letter, Low begins describing early coeducation at Dickinson. She explains that "there was undoubtedly some feeling about the admission of women, but much of it had disappeared by the time I reached there." Despite this statement, Low recalls an election in which her name was removed due to her gender and not being admitted to the literary societies.
In her essay on the "Women at Dickinson College," Dean of Women Josephine Meredith included the following section titled "Why Women Come Here," listing motivating factors/reasons why students chose to attend Dickinson. Her account illustrates the minimal role Dickinson played in proactively seeking to attract even more 'superior' women students; yet she concludes that this could be remedied by being more selective and insisting on personal interviews.
Trends of reasons for attending Dickinson:
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.
"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.
In October of 1884, The Dickinsonian published their first issue following the institution of coeducation. The "Locals" section includes an instance in which a professor forgot that he had female students in his class. The excerpt reads, "Prof. R.-- 'Now gentlemen--Oh! I beg your pardon, Miss Longsdorff.'" Zatae Longsdorff, the female student mentioned in this peice, was the first woman to graduate from Dickinson College.