Are Women’s Colleges Still Relevant? Students Answer
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – In the wake of announcements that two of the nation’s women’s colleges will begin to accept men, student leaders from historic Seven Sisters schools will gather to discuss the future of women’s education.
On Friday, Oct. 27, Smith College President Carol T. Christ will welcome students from Smith, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke and Wellesley colleges – the five remaining Seven Sisters – to the event, called “Women’s Colleges in the 21st Century.”
The next morning, Oct. 28, at 9 a.m., former Smith President Jill Ker Conway will deliver the keynote address. In addition to serving as college president from 1975 to 1985, Conway's published work includes the books “The Politics of Women’s Education” and “Women Reformers and American Culture.”
Student leaders from the Seven Sisters schools have met regularly since the 1940s, but the timing of the upcoming gathering appears particularly apt given the recent announcements by officials at Randolph-Macon Woman’s and Regis colleges to go coed.
Those decisions generated dialogue about the relevancy of women’s colleges along with a lawsuit by a group of Randolph-Macon Woman’s students who claim the school’s governing board breached its contract with the students.
“It is important to be able to come together now and voice the reasons we believe so strongly in women’s education,” said conference organizer Megan E. Ambrus, president of the Smith Student Government Association. “We want to join the discussion.”
Student-led sessions will address such topics as social life, defining gender and campus morale. The conference will also include a lecture on the history of women’s education, presented by Helen Horowitz, Sydenham C. Parsons Professor of American Studies. For more information about the Seven Sisters, go online to the organization's Web site.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,600 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.
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