Mary Caroline Crawford.

The college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is online

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great deal, too, for the education of Southern girls.
I would by no means be understood as denying this.

240 The College Girl of America

But most of them are, of course, very far indeed
from being colleges in the Northern acceptation of
the term, — whether they do or do not offer degrees.
Truth to tell, the degree part of these institutions is
frequently almost lost in their utility ends. The
Arkadelphia Methodist College, at Arkadelphia,
Arkansas, for instance, gave the degree of Bachelor
of Arts in 1903 to one young man, the degree of
Bachelor of Science to three girls, that of Bachelor
of Philosophy to five girls, — and graduated thirty-
three young men and young women in courses of
dressmaking, elocution, piano music, shorthand and
typewriting, banking, and bookkeeping. This " col-
lege " is distinctly interesting, however, in that it is
the only one, so far as I can find, which has intro-
duced instruction in artistic photography. Inasmuch
as there is considerable opportunity for both men and
women now to earn large sums of money by means
of this useful craft, Arkadelphia is certainly to be
congratulated upon its enterprise in providing such
a department.

But skill in photography is not what we of the
North expect to find in our Southern college sisters.
Neither do we regard with a very great degree of
veneration a " college " instructor whose claim to
fitness for his position rests upon the fact that he
is a graduate of a Northern commercial school.

Newcomb and Other Colleges of the South 241

The Southern institutions which call themselves
seminaries and train for refined young ladyhood,
are entitled to respect because they are doing ex-
actly what they were born to do. But it would
seem wise and honest — would it not ? — for an
institution which is a trade-school in fact, to be a
trade-school in name also.



The more one studies coeducation, the more one
is inclined to apply to it Sir Roger de Coverley's
astute remark, " There is here much to be said on
both sides.' ^ Even so clear-headed and careful a
speaker as President M. Carey Thomas of Bryn
Mawr nods first this way and then that, it would
appear, when this puzzling topic is under discussion.
On one occasion she is quoted as saying, " I heartily
approve of coeducation." But on another, —
Smith's quarter-centennial in 1900, — she remarked,
" I am myself a graduate of Cornell, and I suspect
that I missed a great deal of the air of the world's
spirit natural to youth that I should have found
in women's colleges. I know that I missed much
of the delight of college life known to girls in the
women's colleges of to-day. ... If only the
academic standard of women's colleges can be kept
equal to that of the best colleges for men, the pref-
erence for women's colleges seems to me, on the

whole, a wise one." Yet farther on in the same




Coeducational Colleges of the West 243

paper Miss Thomas characterizes the then just
proposed scheme to exclude women and organize
them into a separate college, — which has now been
carried out at the University of Chicago, — as "a
distinctly backward step for woman's education."

Other able writers have waxed no less wroth over
Chicago's " deadly blow at coeducation," claiming
that, when, in 1890, the two great modern univer-
sities of Chicago and Stanford were founded with
every privilege freely accorded to women, they first
came into their own. As a matter of fact there are,
of course, decided advantages as well as grave dis-
advantages in coeducation. President Thwing has
put these neatly in , a single paragraph : " Coedu-
cation," he says, " has the advantage of economy
and also of directness of preparation for certain
women; coeducation helps the woman who is to
be obliged to earn her own living to become vigor-
ous and aggressive. Coeducation, on the other hand,
has in my opinion, though not in the opinion of
everybody, the cfwadvantage of lessening man's
instinctive respect for womanhood. It has also the
disadvantage of making some women mannish."

It is almost universally conceded that coeducation
has worked much better in the West than in the
East. Some people who have had wide opportu-
nities to observe the system in both parts of this

244 The College Girl of America

country, even go so far as to say that while it is
admirable in the West it is execrable in the East.
A woman who has been dean of an important co-
educational college in the West, and is now dean
of another coeducational college in the East, says,
feelingly : "I am a strong believer in coeducation,
but not in coeducation as it exists in the East. I
believe in coeducation after trying it for twenty
years. I recall some noble men and women it has
produced. I recall some true homes it has estab-
lished, with equal respect and equal rights and privi-
leges between husband and wife. I like to think
of the sanity, the breadth that is possible to coedu-
cational institutions. It may have — it does have
— disillusions, but they are wholesome. Men and
women come to know one another well when thrown
together day by day; genuine manhood and true
womanhood rise in value through such intercourse.
The young women refine and keep pure the young
men, the young men make more sensible and
thoughtful the young women; and the action and
reaction are alike good. But it requires more care,
more supervision, more personal work, to develop
men and women together. It is easier to educate
each sex apart.

" So far as I know," she continues, " the East
has never tested the value of coeducation in a large

Coeducational Colleges of the West 24^

and generous fashion, — and there is no other way
to find out its value. Having never truly tested
coeducation, it does not believe in it. It is not pre-
pared to know its value. Where it exists in the
East, it hedges the women about, and is itself hedged
about, by traditions. But in the free West it has
quite a different history, and no one has thought
of questioning its value or weighing its results, for
they have been so satisfactory as to awaken no ques-

This last statement is, of course, not quite true,
as I shall endeavour to show a bit further on in
the chapter. Just now, however, let us consider that
very grave weakness of coeducation upon which,
albeit unconsciously, the lady just quoted put her
finger at once when she said : " It requires more
care, more supervision, to educate men and women
together." Now it is just this care and this
supervision which is almost entirely lacking in
many of the large Western universities. And
as a result, we find that such despatches as this —
founded on truth, too — are constantly getting into
our papers. " Morningside College, a Methodist in-
stitution in Sioux City, is divided in factions over
a question of the rights of woman. The point at
issue is whether a * co-ed * who can sprint faster
than any man in the school has the right to a place

246 The College Girl of America

on its track team at the State intercollegiate field
meet. Morningside possesses a sprinting young
woman, who at the field trials covered a fifty-yard
dash in 0.05^, a world's record for a woman. The
best time made by a man was 0.06. The ' co-eds,'
therefore, demand to know why their representative
should not go to the State meet, where they are
certain she would beat any of the men of the State
colleges in the fifty and one hundred-yard dashes."
Over against such an instance as this of develop-
ment in an unwomanly direction is, however, to be
placed the recent compliment paid to Chicago Uni-
versity " co-eds " by Doctor Delbrueck, the famous
German philologist, who, with four other German
educators from leading German universities, had
been closely studying the life of women in Chicago.
Doctor Delbrueck, looking on at the spectacle of
1,360 women students there, remarked with un-
questionable sincerity, " I have found these Amer-
ican women wonderfully brilliant and as wonder-
fully beautiful." Possibly it is in this very brilliancy
and beauty that the explanation of Doctor Harper's
much-condemned " segregation " lies. At Chicago,
as at very many other coeducational institutions, the
women have latterly begun tO' outnumber and out-
shine the men. The last report gives more than
thirteen hundred women in the collegiate depart-

Coeducational Colleges of the West 247

ment here, against only nine hundred men. In the
University of CaHfornia, on the other hand, latest
reports show that just as the number of men en-
tering the technical colleges has increased, the
number of women entering the arts department has
decreased. It is the acknowledged ideal of coedu-
cation to keep the sexes balanced, but it seems well-
nigh impossible of attainment.

To be sure, there are still enough girls at Berke-
ley, — more than eleven hundred, — and the prob-
lem of taking care of them properly appears a suf-
ficiently appalling one. President Wheeler in his
last report says frankly that the need of carefully
organized and wisely conducted students' homes
for the girls here is a very grave one. " The prob-
lem of where and how the women students shall
live, is one of much difficulty. There are to-day
more women students in the University of Cali-
fornia than in any other institution in the country
which provides for the higher education of women,
with the single exception of Smith. At the begin-
ning of each year, three hundred or more young
women arrive in Berkeley for the first time, usually
alone, and unaccustomed to travel. The Y. W. C.
A. has performed an invaluable work in meeting
students and aiding newcomers to find proper homes
through its salaried secretary [whose entire time

248 The College Girl of America

is devoted to the society's work]. And Mrs. Hearst
has carried through a most interesting experiment
bearing upon the problem of college homes for
women students. [She has equipped two club-
houses, in each of which dwell fifteen or twenty
girls, and a house mother, which have been ex-
tremely successful, as have likewise the eight soror-
ity houses.] But we need a revolving fund which
should provide for the original furnishing of such
women's clubs as might be formed from time to
time. Only this can save the large body of girls
from the forlorn lonesomeness of a third-rate hoard-

How forlorn is the life of many of the women
students at the University of California may be
gathered from the experience of some girls who
are working their way through. One of these,
printed in the last biennial report, gives an ac-
count of a third-year's income. Between the lines
may be read the unrelieved pinch of a sordid strug-
gle with life. ** Hearst domestic industries, ninety-
six dollars ; teaching and other work, forty dollars ;
from home, twenty dollars. This last year my three
younger sisters and myself have kept house. Out
a way from town we found two large unfurnished
rooms and a garret, which we have rented at four
dollars a month. We have lived very cheaply, but

Coeducational Colleges of the West 249

I do not recommend housekeeping unless one takes
at least one meal a day out. I have sewed sixteen
hours a week, at twenty cents an hour, at the Hearst
Domestic Industries."

Mrs. Phebe Hearst is the only fairy godmother
of the girls at the University of California. She has
done much for them, but much still remains to do.
A hall named in her honour has come to be the centre
of the social life of women students. Here the
girls lunch together; here hold meetings, concerts,
receptions, and other college affairs. Here, too,
is a superb gymnasium, an enclosed basket-ball
court, and space for outside basket-ball games, for
archery, and for open-air work in physical culture.
Thus it will be seen that the hall meets a very real
need. But it by no means does all, we repeat, that
should be done for the comfort and well-being of
this vast body of women students.

At the University of Minnesota, which has more
than six hundred and fifty girl students, there is a
very pleasant girl's dormitory. Situated, as the col-
lege is, in a large city, the life is naturally not so
marked as in towns where a college is practically the
whole thing, but there are a large number of sorori-
ties at the university, and these are greatly enjoyed
by their members. Yet, since less than one-half of
the girls belong to sororities, a picture of sorority

250 The College Girl of America

life would not represent truly the life of the college
girl. Possibly the major part of the social life of
the young women here is associated with the social
life of the city, rather than with that of the college
itself. The young women at Minnesota now sus-
tain their college work about as young men do.
When the scholarship system of honour was in
vogue, they captured the first place rather more
than half the time.

A girl often makes great sacrifices to stay on at
Minnesota. The expense is almost nothing (five dol-
lars is the university fee), but inasmuch as many of
the women who come here to study are entirely,
or almost entirely, dependent on their own exer-
tions for means of living, their struggles for the
sake of an education are often little short of heroic.
From a student's note-book, which I have been privi-
leged to see, I learn of one Minnesota girl who
entered college with fifty cents, put herself through
the first year, paying all her bills with scarcely nine
dollars from home, and ended with one dollar and
ten cents on hand.

** Fifty cents is the sum total of my wealth,"
she writes the first of September, " and I must rely
upon selling a beautiful five-dollar book for my
entrance fee. Yesterday I went out with it, but

Coeducational Colleges of the West 251

met nO' success, although every one was kind and
sympathetic. September 4th. The whole week has
been one of hoping, despairing, praying. I have
not sold my book, and so could not register. At
last, in despair, I went tO' the noblest-hearted pro-
fessor of the university, and told her my pitiful
tale. Her great woman heart opened wide and
took me in. She didn't eye me suspiciously, won-
dering if I were an impostor; she didn't drop the
matter with mere regrets because she herself was
unable to buy the book. No, indeed! She took
the book and sold it for me! I shall never forget
the unselfish light which illuminated her counte-
nance, and the hearty handshake as she triumphantly
exclaimed, ' The book is sold. You may register.' "
The particular means this girl adopted, besides
canvassing, was housework. She writes that it
was her custom to read Browning while wash-
ing dishes, and to brace herself, when turned coldly
away in the course of her peddling, by repeating:

*' Then welcome each rebuff

That turns earth's smoothness rough,

Each sting which bids nor sit, nor stand, but go !

Be thy joy three parts pain,

Strive and hold cheap the strain,

Learn, nor account the pang ; dare, never grudge the throe."


The College Girl of America

The financial report of this particular student
is so interesting that it is given here:


On hand Sept. i . . .
Canvassing ....
Journal Xmas tree .
Child tending ....


$ 50



Extra nurse work .

. I 50

Total earned .

12 65

From papa

Loan ....

8 25
2 45

$23 85


University fee . , . .

$ 5 00
2 86



5 61


Board and room . . . .

I 37
3 28

Contributions and gifts .

2 00
2 03

$22 75

Cash on hand ....

I 10

$23 85

Coeducational Colleges of the West 253

Generally speaking, housework is held to be the
best way for a girl to work her passage through
college. One wonders how this Minnesota maiden
was able to stand the strain of it all, but inasmuch
as she gained ten pounds in the course of the year,
we may conclude that she did not really work too
hard. Of the experience she herself records at the
year's end : " My most valuable lessons have not
been learned from books. I have battled with the
great living world, and will henceforth meet it with
bolder courage. I have been learning to endure
drudgery as an essential part of success in every
vocation. I am learning to vanquish opposition
from without ; fears, sensitiveness, a myriad of evils
from within. I am learning to know myself, my
frailties, but my possibilities, also. This year, there-
fore, shall always be catalogued as one of great
blessing." With women of such spirit as this to
renew the land, America is certainly still a long
way from becoming " effete."

At the University of Michigan the question of
controlling the social life of the women seems to
be fairly well settled, thanks to the new women's
building (or Barbour Gymnasium, as it is inter-
changeably called) and the close and sympathetic
attention of the women's dean to the needs of her
girls. This university's present ideal for women

254 The College Girl of America

students has been evolved from three decades of
coeducation. When Michigan's doors were first
opened to women, all who came were there for
study, for work. But with the growing popularity
of education for women, and with the prosperity
of the middle West, the " boarding-school type "
of girl has come on the scene. This girl needs to
be made to study, and needs, too, a considerable
number of rules laid down for the guidance O'f her
student life. Because of the presence of this new
type, the women's building, where the present dean
has her official headquarters, is of particular value.
All social affairs are held in this building, and the
hours of its use are controlled. A limit of twelve
o'clock is fixed for the close of all entertainments,
and the women's dean is always present at whatever
festivities college girls give.

Thus the social life of Michigan University has
latterly attained a distinctly higher tone than it
has sometimes had in the past. The tuition fee at
Michigan, by the bye, is thirty dollars for girls
resident in the State, and forty dollars for all others.
There are no dormitories and no commons con-
nected with the university.

The University of Nebraska is another very im-
portant institution of the West. Its women stu-
dents alone number six hundred. Here, too, there












. Coeducational Colleges of the West 255

are no houses of residence, all that is done to make
life gracious and easy for the girls being accom-
plished through the Young Women's Christian
Association, which has, in the basement of Uni-
versity Hall, a pleasant room, always open to mem-
bers and their friends. A woman's parlour and
rest-room for girl students of the college and a
room " where ladies may lunch " seems to complete
the provision here made for girl students as such.
Nebraska girls have, however, their own gymnastic
director, their own social clubs, and their own ath-
letic interests. And if one may judge from the ap-
pearance of a representative basket-ball team, the
university produces a very vigorous type of girl.

At Leland Stanford Junior University, in Palo
Alto, California, the social need inherent in coedu-
cation has been very frankly recognized, if one may
judge from an admirable editorial contributed to the
woman's edition of the Daily Palo Alto by a college
girl : " Rightly or wrongly," this young woman de-
clares, " the world demands of the college woman
a criterion of action. She must be able to set it.
Just as the world exacts of the college man that he
shall a little more than hold his own in business
circles, so it looks to the college woman for leader-
ship and savoir-faire in all circles. How and when
she acquire the ability to lead and do is left to her,

256 The College Girl of America

but have it she must. Since it is a thing that can be
mastered only by practice, opportunity to so attain
it should be afforded her. Since it is demanded
of her because she is a college woman, that train-
ing should be given her by her college. The Stan-
ford girl must have social training. Book-lore alone
does not answer. Surely the need must be imper-
ative when an ' upper class woman ' cries out in
abnegation of spirit : 'If only there were offered
at Stanford a course in genuine good breeding ! '
What that girl longed for was not more receptions,
— which too often are a mockery of true social
intercourse, and a shallow form we hold to from
sheer lack of courage to let go ; not more balls, —
most of which we attend merely to demonstrate
publicly that we have been invited; not even more

* spreads,' — which are apt tO' degenerate into mere

* feeds.' What she wanted was real social expe-
rience to prepare her to go into the world a woman
educated in the fullest sense of the word."

With the promptness to meet needs that is char-
acteristic of Leland Stanford, a Woman's League
has recently been organized, under the leadership
of Mrs. Jordan, and is now doing a great deal to
bring the women of the university into closer social
contact. Of other organizations there are a large
number at Stanford, so that no girl who wishes

Coeducational Colleges of the West 257

to develop in one or another direction need lack for
opportunity. A vigorous branch of the Christian
Association, several sororities, with houses of their
own, Roble, a beautiful residence house, and diverse
boarding-clubs, all contribute to the life which makes
Stanford what it is. Almost five hundred girls are
now sharing that life, and living up with what
distinction they can command to the spirit Mrs.
Stanford invoked when she said : '' I would have
each one of my girls remember that she exerts an
influence extending far beyond her conception, and
I pray that it will be for good always ; and I would
have her realize she can use it for the good of her
university in a constant endeavour to uphold the
Stanford standard of honesty, sincerity, and truth
in all things. This is her duty, and I would have
her meet it seriously and willingly. I would have
the Stanford girl womanly in the highest, sweetest
sense of the word. I would have her enjoy to the
fullest her equal privileges here with gentle dignity,
respecting herself, and making all with whom she
comes in contact respect her. Finally, above all
else, I would have her go out into the world a noble
Christian woman who will stand for something seri-
ous in life, and always be a credit to Stanford."

Few Western universities are more beautiful
than that in Madison, Wisconsin, the privileges of

258 The College Girl of America

which are entirely free to girls of the State. The
grounds comprise three hundred acres, and extend
for more than a mile along the south shore of
Lake Mendota, a large and imposing sheet of water,
from the eastern part of which the land rises
abruptly into two summits. On the slope of one
of these is the college plant. The single dormitory
for young women at this university is Chadbourne
Hall, built in 1870, and remodelled and enlarged
in 1896, but the life of girl students is broad
and many-sided, inasmuch as two literary societies,
— Castalia, established near the beginning of the
university, and Pythia, formed this last year, —
as well as several small clubs, are maintained. The
women have organized, too, a self-government
association, and a prosperous branch of the Young
Women's Christian Association. Gymnastic exer-
cises are required at Wisconsin during the first two
years of the course. The " gym " (in one part of
Chadbourne Hall) has connected with it tennis and
cycling clubs, and there is practice in such games
as basket-ball, newcombe, and basquette. The resi-
dence hall accommodates ninety students, and is
furnished with everything necessary to comfort.
The girls occupying the building are under the
immediate charge of the mistress of the hall, and
are required to board there. The cost of the table

Coeducational Colleges of the West 259

accommodation is three dollars and seventy-five
cents a week, the price of rooms varying from forty
to ninety-five dollars a year, according tO' location.
Reasonable as these charges seem, they are, of
course, tremendous to girls who have no money
at all. And at Wisconsin such girls are not rare;
we hear again and again of tremendous self-sacri-
fice for the sake of an education. Two girls of
whom I know were able to live on one dollar a

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 14 of 18)