It was 16 years ago when Mills undergraduates faced the possibility of sharing classes with men. Board chairman Warren Hellman told our foresisters that in order “to maintain academic quality and financial strength in the long run, [Mills] must increase its undergraduate enrollment to at least 1,000.” Now, as we enter a school year with the highest enrollment ever-927, as just reported in the Fall 2006 Final Census, we are closer to reaching that goal than ever before.
We can truly join in with those 1990 strikers in telling the former chairman, “Go to Hell, Man!” We take comfort in knowing that our President is committed to a top quality liberal arts education for women.
Our success comes in the wake of many women’s colleges going co-ed.
The Associated Press tells us that interest in women’s colleges “wanes,” while College Board says only 3 percent of female SAT-takers would even consider a women’s college.
We may not all be here for the lack of men, but we take pride that when it comes to Mills, the only thing waning is parking spaces.
Randolph-Macon announced their decision to admit men just two weeks ago, and they report that 200 students have already filed requests to transfer.
We applaud those women for their acts of resistance and for making the tough decision to switch schools. We hope they know we share their commitment to women’s education and will join us in going beyond that 1,000 mark.
We hope that as Mills grows, we will be able to accommodate and “maintain academic quality.” We hope that Intro to Women’s Studies will never be held in the Greek Theatre, and single rooms will remain the norm for residential students. It’s important that the College keep an eye on how much we can really hold, because as much as we love being a women’s college, we also really love being a small college.
The Washington Post recently asked: “Every time another of the approximately 60 women’s colleges admits men, one question resonates: Is single-sex education still relevant?” We say yes. In a world where women still make less than men, where men hold more leadership positions, where women are plagued by pop-culture-induced self-hatred, it is clear that our community is as relevant as ever. We will always recognize the significance of an institution built just for us, and we will take the strength of a women’s education with us as leaders in the world.