No Fancy Name
Friday, August 11, 2006
via Inside Higher Ed :: Anger Over Coeducation Plan
An article at Inside Higher Ed, "Anger Over Coeducation Plan," reports that the board of trustees at Randolph-Macon Women's College is "set to vote Sept. 9 on a strategic plan that includes allowing men to enroll and expanding the global studies program."

I am ambivalent on the issue of coeducation, because I've been a student at both a women's college and also co-ed colleges and universities (I've been around) and feel each have an equal number of pros and cons. Bottom line, was the educational experience at the women's college a good one? Yes. At the co-ed university? Yes.

Moving on to the reason for my's to call bullshit on these statements:
"Our decision to embrace a coed environment is not because we think a women’s college isn’t a good form of education," said Virginia Worden, interim president of Randolph-Macon. "We are proud of 115 years of being a women’s college, but we have come to a difficult conclusion that to attract more women, we need to attract men." [...] Worden said that fewer than 5 percent of college applicants are willing to look at a women’s college, and that most students "don’t come because, but in spite of, the fact that it’s a women’s college."
A comment on the article by a RMWC alum says it best: "I suggest that if the board wants to “attract more women” they concentrate on increasing the excellent faculty, campus, overseas programs, and courses available to the students. Don’t use men as 'bait' to get the girls!!!" No kidding.

RMWC is in Lynchburg, VA. Within a 2-hour radius of RMWC are at least three other women's colleges: Hollins, Sweet Briar, and my undergrad school, Mary Baldwin. I'm probably forgetting a few. We played them all in sports and eventually the schools all ran together..."oh yeah, another small liberal arts college with beautiful old buildings and lush fields and legacy students." I don't see any of those places going co-ed, calling on the need to use men as bait. Unless something's changed in the last fifteen years since I was there, there's a very strong social network between the women's colleges and the neighboring institutions (VMI, Hampden-Sydney, W&L, Roanoke, Lynchburg, etc.). There was never a lack of men around, that's for sure.

It's sad that the administrators at a perfectly fine institution negated its value by (essentially) saying that they don't have the people or resources to compete for students. If I were a student or faculty member, I'd consider that a slap in the face. "We're not good enough as-is. We have to let guys in. That will make us better." Great message.

[My own undergrad institution allows men to take classes/get degrees in their non-traditional (e.g. non-residential) adult program, because it fits the needs of the community. The number of men are so few that I daresay it wasn't about the money or using them as bait.]



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