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1988 Yearbook: Page 44

Click below for full image. Note that Sage A and Williams A were both all male entries that year. When was the last year of single sex entries? Back in the day, there were, I think, two reasons for single sex entries. First, the sex ratio was less even (55:45?) so, if most entries were evenly split, you still had extra men. Second, and more importantly, first years were allowed to express a preference for single sex versus co-ed entries if they had one. I think that more than a few students, mostly women, had a preference for such entries and the College, still flush with the power of patriarchy, met those preferences. (I think that many/most of the boys in single sex entries were not there out of choice.)

When did the College stop asking that question? When was the last year of single sex entries? I don’t know.

Are you a conservative student who wants to make trouble on campus? This is a perfect topic! Demand that the College at least ask accepted students their preference on the housing forms that they will be filling out in a few months. What could be the harm in finding out this information? Surely, knowing if someone prefers a single sex entry is at least as important as finding out her taste in music. If all students prefer co-ed entries, there is no problem.

But, I bet, many (25? 50?) young women will prefer a single sex entry within a co-ed dorm. (As my wife says, only a girl without brothers would want to share a bathroom with the typical 18 year-old boy.) Once the College discovers this preference, doesn’t it have an obligation to try to meet it?

This is a great debate for conservative students to force on the College because they can frame it in terms of student choice, of asking women what they want and then meeting their requests. Who could object?

Extra credit: Can you identify the future Marine in Sage A?

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#1 Comment By ’10 On February 18, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

a) very rarely are freshman bathrooms coed. Frosh quad entries are more-or-less gendered by floor, and Mission entries by hallway. So most frosh already live in same-sex subunits within a coed entry.

b) I would prefer not to have hours of reading and two problem sets left to do tonight, but it’s not the college’s obligation to respect that choice. One major role of a good school is to force people to do things they would otherwise never do or want to do, for the benefit of personal growth.

c) one might even argue that living with the opposite gender falls under umbrella of “uncomfortable learning.”

d) if a portion of students wanted a whites-only entry, or a jewish-only entry, or an econ-major-only entry, should Williams oblige?

#2 Comment By hwc On February 19, 2008 @ 12:59 am

Swarthmore still offers a choice of single-sex housing to upper class students in the housing lottery and to first-year students in their housing preference forms. They don’t guarantee single-sex to incoming freshmen who request it, but generally they do accomodate those requests.

There are several reasons students choose these options. The women’s halls tend to be quieter and more conducive to studying and sleeping. The dorm with the majority of single sex rooms is a really nice dorm, so it’s popular among freshmen and in the lottery because the rooms are desireable in spite of being single sex.

A little over 10% of the campus lives in these single sex dorms or floors — about 90 women and about 65 men.

#3 Comment By frank uible On February 19, 2008 @ 6:04 am

Add it to the long list of the College’s not-very-charming, baroque practices, both current and past.

#4 Comment By Larry George On February 19, 2008 @ 8:27 am

’10 is right about the reality of the situation for first years.
In reality, the single-sex choice is already accommodated. I wish the College were clearer about this in its admissions materials. Every year, we hear alarm amongst the pre-frosh about shared bathrooms. It just isn’t a daily reality. To ask whether one had a preference for single-sex housing on the housing forms would be misleading and would only create problems where they don’t exist.

#5 Comment By FROSH mom On February 19, 2008 @ 10:38 am

Love those ‘high-water’ pants in Willy A.
So preppy!

Probably more “legacies” then…

#6 Comment By JG On February 21, 2008 @ 9:30 am

Frosh were allowed in the Odd Quad when I applied, and those who wanted single-sex bathrooms were clearly informed that a prefernce for the Odd Quad made it more likely to have co-ed bathrooms. There was a dial on the door that could be rotated to “men only,” “women only,” or “both” if you felt more comfortable. But even the most shy stopped switching the arrow after a few weeks – we were like siblings.

I was a JA in Williams, and I will say that I had the GOOD fortune to live on the boys’ floor (both JAs got put on the same floor). Sharing a bathroom with six girls would have been my biggest nightmare: no counter space, lines to use the shower, and make up everywhwere! And whomever stereotypes as “girls are quieter” has never heard the shrieking and giggling of 18-year-olds recapping their night out or their favorite TV show or what happened in class that day. Maybe I’m weird, but living with the boys worked out great for me. Granted, it could swing either way, I just resent the overarching statement that girls are cleaner/quieter/whatever.

I heartily endorse co-ed living for first years after seeing it firsthand as a JA. Indeed, the East/Faye experience of everyone down the same hallway with rooms alternating boy/girl was in my opinion even superior to the alternating single-sex floors/suites in Williams/Sage and now Mission. It is a co-ed school, so the “uncomfortable learning” means learning to deal with all kinds of people. If you want a solely single-sex environment, got to a single-sex school.