Wells College Co-ed Protest Updateposted by Jazz at 10/07/2004 01:47:00 PM
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"Today we barricaded the Presidential Office and picketed in front of Macmillan for a short time. After Dean Green addressed us this morning with an announcement that the Administration's "tone is changing." She gave us until 1pm to vacate the kitchen next to the AER where we have been cooking our meals, the Green room (Dean VanVechten's old office)which they had opened in order for us to store food, and to remove all of our personal belongings from Macmillan. The kitchen was locked and the DOS office has issued an extension until 7:30pm to vacate the green room. "
There has been a lot of news coverage of this, so I'll only touch on a few big hitters.
CNN has finally picked up the story. "Students in this Finger Lakes village will continue to protest until the board reverses its decision, said sophomore Rachel Crosbie. Opponents say they want to preserve the college's 136-year tradition as a school for women, and worry men may dominate the classroom if they are admitted."
The Ithaca Journal and the Star Gazette have more.
And speaking of news coverage... over two years time I have put more than a thousand lovingly constructed, carefully crafted posts on this blog. I let Georg, my wife, guest blog one time here because she is closely associated with the story. So who does the Syracuse Post Standard quote? That's right... Georg. Harrumph.
A bit of editorializing, if I may. First of all, I fully support the existence of and need for single sex schools in this country. It is not a matter of "equal rights" or opportunity. This is not the same as having racially segregated primary schools in the fifties, though some might tell you that it is. This is about women having the opportunity to attend an institute of higher education, should they so choose, where they can explore opportunities and a sense of culture that is unique to the female perspective. There is no insidious feminist revolt going on to plot the downfall of men. This is simply about opportunity and empowerment for women preparing to enter professional society.
Secondly, as a marketing professional, I have to question the business strategy behind the administration's choice to go co-ed. What was the thinking behind this? As things currently stand, being a single sex women's university was the one defining facet that set Wells apart from its competition. (And competition for students is fierce in the education community.) By going co-ed they are then forced to compete with every other smaller college out there. Plus, what will the big attraction be for potential male applicants? What is the marketing hook that you will lead with in your brochures? "Come to Wells... we've got lots of chicks?"
Unless your mind is heading straight to the gutter, there isn't going to be that big of a draw for male applicants. (And let's face it... the women at Wells are perfectly capable of getting dates because most of the boys from Colgate are driving over there for just that reason anyway.)
All kidding aside, it's not like the college is offering an NCAA Big East sports team to attract the boys. Also, Wells is primarily a liberal arts college. They don't offer the range of programs, particularly in engineering and technical disciplines, that are needed to provide a broad base of attraction for male students across the spectrum. In thinking that they will boost enrollment, the administrators are very likely shooting themselves in the foot. Male applicants may turn out to be scarce while, as these protests show, they could lose a large portion of their female population who came to Wells primarily for the single sex environment.
Bad marketing. Bad move. Bad management. Angry young women with signs and bandannas. Bad press. To the President of Wells: You blew it. This was a poor move.
Update: More news on this story continues to come in.