Mary Caroline Crawford.

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

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week here, paying fifty cents each for their room
and fifty cents each for their food. The latter con-
sisted of corn-meal and oatmeal, eggs, — when these
were cheap, — and stale bread, with a half a pint
of milk daily. One of the girls has said, with a
keen appreciation of the humourous side of the
matter, that semioccasionally they would purchase
a cheap piece of steak, cut it in exactly two parts
(of which half would be laid away until the next
day), and dine sumptuously upon the remaining
half equally divided. To earn the dollar a week
of their college expense these girls taught school
in Dakota during the summer. And inasmuch as
they had intellectual ability, as well as grit, their
sacrifices have paid; they are now teachers of
Latin, drawing good salaries. Such self-denial is
a tragedy, of course, only in the cases — and they
are not so rare as they ought to be — of girls who,

26o The College Girl of America

after all this anguish in getting an education, are
unable to *' improve " what they have acquired.

At Indiana University the incoming girl student
presents her credentials at once to a dean of women
who makes her feel at home and helps her to find
herself. Most of the students here lodge in private
houses and board in clubs. The cost naturally
varies greatly with the way of living. But in the
present student body close economy is the rule.
Yet, in spite of the free tuition, the average expense
is apt to be about two hundred dollars a year.
There is a good deal of social life at Indiana, in
which both men and women have a share, as well
as many interests peculiar to the girls alone. Ama-
teur theatricals have always been encouraged at
this university, both by the student body and faculty,
and for the past seven years an annual play has
been presented on Foundation Day, in which any
student possessing dramatic ability might take part.
Formerly these plays, under the efficient direction
of Prof. Martin Wright Sampson, were Shake-
spearian, and were given without scenery — de-
pending upon the interpretation to please the
audiences. Out of this annual performance has
now grown the Strut and Fret Club, which presents
three public and six private plays each college year,
and has ten women and fifteen men on its

Coeducational Colleges of the West 261

membership list. In basket-ball the girls of In-
diana find an outlet for their athletic enthusiasm,
and the sororities and social clubs present oppor-
tunity for pleasant friendly intercourse. The
women's gymnasium, Mitchell Hall, has all equip-
ment necessary to exercise, as well as two well-
shaded tennis-courts for the use of girls. On the
first floor of Kirkwood Hall, a noble building of
white limestone, the Christian Association provides
a waiting-room for the especial accommodation of
women students. Thus, though Indiana lacks the
dormitories, which it is undoubtedly well for a
coeducational university to provide for its girls,
there seems tO' be fairly adequate provision for the
comfort and gracious social life of women students.
Yet, after all, it is the personality of the dean
even more than the attitude of the university
toward women which determines whether a girl
shall or shall not find in a given college what she
needs to make her undergraduate life sweet and
noble. The University of Illinois is superlatively
attractive in both these directions. The dean, Miss
Violet Jayne, is in close touch with her girls, all
of whom like her greatly, and women are very
welcome on the campus. Apart from the frater-
nities, clubs, and societies, which often foster cliques
while they encourage friendship, this university has

262 The College Girl of America

an important organization called the Watcheka
League, which especially seeks to afford opportu-
nities for all the girls to become acquainted. To
this every woman student is eligible. The league
gives six or eight parties during the year, in one
or another of the university buildings; the modes
of entertainment are various, including chafing-dish
parties, costume-parties, dancing-parties, picnics,
and once a year — when the girls may invite their
men friends — a play. The Young Women's
Christian Association, too, gives a large number of
social affairs in the Association House just opposite
the campus, the entertainment here consisting gen-
erally of games and music, especially college sing-
ing. Then the girls who are taking gymnasium
work (largely freshmen and sophomores) are per-
mitted to give, under the direction of their in-
structor, one or two dancing-parties in the gym-
nasium during the year, each girl being allowed
to have one man friend invited. University affairs,
too, — not strictly of a social nature, — contribute
much to college spirit; for example, the May-pole
Dance, given every spring by the gymnasium girls
on the spacious south campus; the singing of col-
lege songs by scores or hundreds of students to-
gether out-of-doors, sitting on the grass, when the
spring days become warm enough; the convoca-

Coeducational Colleges of the West 263

tions for which the whole student body is requested
to assemble to hear something the president has
to say, or to listen to some distinguished visitor;
also the baseball and football games, at which the
girls seek to do their share toward spurring the
Illinois team on to victory.

The majority of the girls at Illinois room and
board in private houses, but about seventy-five of
them live in the houses of the five sororities. The
university exercises no direct authority over the
home life of students, and has only one regulation
for their social life, i. e., the dancing-parties shall
not occur save on Friday or Saturday evenings.
Beginning next year, however, there will probably
be a much more carefully organized social life.
For the new woman's building, which will provide
a spacious general meeting-room and other social
rooms, a fine gymnasium, with dressing-rooms,
lockers, baths, and a swimming-pool, will then be
in use. It is confidently predicted that this will be
the most charming and useful building ever given
over exclusively to the use of women " co-eds." In
this new structure — built after the New England
Colonial style of architecture — will be supplied
also ample accommodations for the household
science department (one of the most important

264 The College Girl of America

branches of this university), which is now in the
fourth very successful year of its history.

Student hfe at IlHnois is free, democratic, and
healthful. The aim is to make women out of the
college girls who come here, women who shall be
sane and true and tolerant and useful in the home
and in the State. The university cherishes culture,
but it knows that any culture worth having must
come through work. It proclaims, therefore, that
it particularly wants the favour and the patronage
of the thrifty. No girl who is earnest and has the
preparation which the high schools can give ever
knocks at the door of Illinois University in vain.
The Young Woman's Christian Association con-
ducts a free labour bureau which helps students to
find work for the defraying of part of their ex-
penses. And since the fees here are but twelve
dollars a semester, and the average student need
not spend more than two hundred dollars upon liv-
ing expenses, many girls are able almost to support

Under the able presidency of Dr. Howard Ayres,
the University of Cincinnati has during late years
attained high intellectual standing in the West.
And that its young people are very happy in their
social activities — the girls no less than the men —
one must conclude from undergraduate life as re-

Coeducational Colleges of the West 265

fleeted in the year-books of the university and in
the college's good times. There are several sorori-
ties here, a German club and a comedy club, to
which both girls and men belong, as well as a girls*
glee-club, and numerous small fellowships.

That the students of this university are possessed
of that invaluable thing, a sense of humour, is
shown in the following skit, ^' How to write an
English 13 Story," which could have come only
from the pen of a girl : *' I. Lay the scene if
possible in the country; the shorter the story the
more countrified the place. II. Embellish the walls
of the house, and at the same time your story, with
ancestral portraits ; frames are a necessity, though
they may be tarnished. III. The heroine must
be ugly; try to introduce freckles; remember Jane
Eyre (N. B. Not written by a member of the
class). IV. The hero must be a prig; if he has
any faults they must be perceived by no one but
the heroine, who is near-sighted and will overlook
them. V. Children are a luxury; this gives a
lifelike tone. VI. Notes and full explanations of
all foreign words and phrases, whether explained
by the context or not, must be given; place such
notes in as prominent a position as possible. VII.
The use of the first person is advisable; this gives
the necessary idea of conceit. VIII. Try to secure

266 The College Girl of America

an autobiographical tone, as in * The Owner of
the Gas-Mills,' or * Life in High Society, by a
Member of the Royal Family.' "

At the University of Iowa, as at Cincinnati,
special provision is made for the comfort and wel-
fare of the young women through the offices of
a woman dean, who recommends boarding and lodg-
ing places, sees that students who are ill while away
from home are put under proper care, assists, as
far as possible, young women who wish to earn
their way through college, corresponds with parents
who desire to make inquiries regarding their daugh-
ters, takes an interest in the women's organizations,
and is ready to make any suggestions that seem
to her to be for the good of all. The homes to
which she sends girls are always those which have
already been carefully inspected. A small special
gymnasium for women has been fitted up on the
ground floor of the Hall of Liberal Arts here, and
an expert gymnastic instructor is provided espe-
cially for women students. Iowa, however, has no
very rich social life for its girls, inasmuch as it
lacks dormitories and commons. The tuition is
twenty-five dollars a year, board and lodging in
private houses being obtainable for from three to
five dollars a week. To aid those girls who must
support themselves, the Young Women's Christian

Coeducational Colleges of the West 267

Association conducts a free labour bureau, and, in-
asmuch as Iowa City is a town of eight thousand
inhabitants, whose citizens are friendly to the uni-
versity, and take pleasure in affording to deserving
students the opportunity to earn their necessary
expenses, it rarely happens that a girl who needs
help fails to secure steady employment of some
kind. During the past year, indeed, the demand
for student help was greater than the supply.

The officers of Kansas State University never
miss an opportunity to express their appreciation
of the vast benefits the presence of women have
conferred upon their institution. " The far larger
devotion to the claims of society, the large measure
of freedom from certain sorts of fun-making, the
more uncertain hold of athletic sports, are some
of the more obvious results of the coeducational
constitution of this university," a recent faculty
member has recorded. The fraternity has been by
far the most important unit within this university.
Kansas's social life cannot, indeed, be considered
apart from these societies, for it has centred in them.
The intensity of this social life varies, of course,
from year to year, and from fraternity to fraternity
(there are six to which men alone belong, and three
especially for girls), but as a rule each fraternity
intends to have two considerable social events

268 The College Girl of America

during the year. These have usually taken the
form of evening parties, with dancing and refresh-
ments. More rarely have these events been in the
shape of formal dinners or suppers, with toasts, and
perhaps some musical or literary figure. The faculty
does little at Kansas to influence or direct the social
life of the students, though it is often represented
at social gatherings. The one affair to which all
members of the university are welcome, whether
fraternity people or not, is the university ball.
This has never yet established itself as the regular
social event of the year, which it might well become,
but there is considerable probability that it may
soon so develop.

Nature has done much for Northwestern Uni-
versity. Extending for three-quarters of a mile
along Lake Michigan, in the beautiful city of Evans-
ton, two miles north of Chicago's extreme limit, its
campus is covered for the greater part with a dense
growth of virgin oak-trees, famous for their
beauty. The buildings are many and attractive,
special provision being made for the comfortable
housing of girl students. The freshman, when she
enters, is guided at once by a representative of the
Young Women's Christian Association tO' Willard
Hall, so named in honour of Evanston's most
famous citizen, Frances Willard, who was for sev-

. Coeducational Colleges of the West 269

eral years dean of the women's college. This build-
ing forms a pleasant home for young ladies, and
stands just one block tO' the west of the main
campus entrance on a spacious lot of its own. Life
here is under the immediate oversight of a dean
who lives in the building, and associates with the
residents as a friend and adviser.

If the woman student at Northwestern be so
situated that she needs to economize and work her
way in part, she will direct her steps to Pearsons
Hall, a modest but very homelike building, standing
directly across the street from Willard Hall, where
seventy young women, by caring for their own
rooms, doing the dining-room work, and so on,
reduce the cost of their room and board to a figure
but little above the price of their provisions in
bulk. Or the newcomer may be led to Chapin Hall,
a fine new dormitory for women, erected twO' years
ago, where conditions are similar to those prevailing
in Pearsons Hall. All women students not residents
of Evanston are required to room in one of these
three halls, unless specifically excused by a faculty
committee of oversight; and all women students,
whether rooming in the halls or elsewhere, are
directly subject to the oversight of women. Very
sensible limitations have been imposed upon the
social life here. In the interest of the college

270 The College Girl of America

community the faculty has adopted a regulation that
no organization or group of students shall hold in
any year more than one party or social entertain-
ment at which both ladies and gentlemen are present.
Previous permission must in all cases be obtained
from the committee on social affairs, and such parties
shall close not later than eleven o'clock.

About the lowest sum for which it is possible to
get through a year at Northwestern University is
two' hundred and twenty-five dollars. The college
is distinctly and positively Christian, it is worth
noting, seventy per cent, of the women and seventy-
two per cent, of the men in the undergraduate body
being church-members. The charter provides, how-
ever (in spite of the fact that Northwestern Uni-
versity was founded by Methodists), that " no par-
ticular religious faith shall be required of those
who- become students."

Oberlin College has been characterized as the
" strongest Christian force between the Hudson and
Lake Michigan." Probably this is no exaggeration.
Certainly an educational institution bom in the way
this one was should be a Christian force. The
story of the founding of this college is full of
colour and interest. More than seventy years ago
two young men who had been boys together in a
Vermont village determined to establish in the West

Coeducational Colleges of the West 271

a Christian colony which should be the environment
of a Christian college. They had no money and
very little influence, nothing, indeed, except faith
in the value of their idea. One of them, Philo P.
Stewart, had been a missionary to the Choctaw
Indians in Mississippi ; the other, John J. Shipard,
had for two years been pastor of a new settle-
ment at Elyria, Ohio. The one thing clear to them
both was the need of just such an enterprise as
they were determined to execute. In search of
a suitable location for their colony and college, the
two friends rode eight miles southwest from Elyria
into the primitive forest. There they knelt in
prayer under an elm-tree which still stands at the
southeast corner of the college campus. From their
prayer, and from the sturdy devotion with which
they reinforced it, grew the college. There had
recently been published in this country an account
of the self-sacrificing life of John Frederick Ober-
lin, a German pastor among the poor French and
German population of the valley on the borders of
Alsace and Lorraine. His spirit and achievements
seemed so like those which were desired for the
new colony that his name was given to it by the

Soon after choosing his local habitation and his
name, Mr. Shipard rode on horseback to New

272 The College Girl of America

England (taking two weeks for the journey), to
bargain for the land he wanted and to secure colo-
nists suitable tO' his purpose. The next spring, on
April 19, 1833, the first colonist arrived with his
family, and moved into a log house which he had
erected near the historic elm. Others followed, and,
on December 3d of the same year, eleven families
were on the ground and the school was opened
with forty-four pupils. The number increased to
one hundred and one the following summer, and
four young men were regularly classified as fresh-
men. The venture grew wonderfully, so much so
that a year and a half after its opening the college
was organized in all departments, having thirty-
five students in the theological seminary, and thirty-
eight in the college. In recent years the average
student attendance has been about thirteen hundred,
of which a fair proportion are women. From
the very first, indeed, Oberlin has stood for the
coeducation of the sexes. The original circular sent
out from here proclaimed this principle, and of the
forty-four students present at the opening fifteen
were young women. From the very first, too,
Oberlin has endeavoured to meet the needs of every
one — of those who must practise extreme economy,
as well as of those who can si)end freely. It has
to-day five boarding-halls, with a wide variety of

Coeducational Colleges of the West 273

expense and style of living*. Keep Home provides
opportunities for self-supporting young women to
board — doing a good deal of their own service —
at from forty to sixty cents a week. Stewart Hall
is designed for those who wish at a moderate price
good substantial food without the more expensive
luxuries. Board and room are here supplied to
a girl for $2.25 a week. Lord Cottage furnishes
a home for about forty young women at $3.50
a week, while at Talcott Hall and Baldwin Cottage
the price varies, according to the location and size
of the room, from something over four to almost
six dollars a week, including board, fuel, and light.
The total charges for tuition and incidentals are
seventy-five dollars a year at Oberlin. Thus students
who wish to devote all their time to college work,
without being hampered by having to earn any
part of their necessary expenses, need only two
hundred and twenty-five dollars a year; and few
girls find it necessary to spend more than three
hundred dollars a year, even though having all the
comforts of college life. Traditions and public
sentiment all favour the self-helping students and
discourage every sort of extravagance.

Life in Oberlin, while quiet and simple, abounds
in healthful student enthusiasms. Whenever the
girls want anything not easy of immediate attain-

274 The College Girl of America

ment, they work for it. Recently they polished
shoes, darned stockings, sold violets, and painted
posters to earn money with which to enclose a much-
needed basket-ball court. The social life is under
the oversight of a dean, who looks carefully after
the interests of all girl students. Saturday is regular
recreation evening, and by limiting the number of
small and unimportant entertainments, and improv-
ing the character of several regular gatherings of
the students, a growing sense for social forms,
most gratifying to the faculty, has recently been
developed. The students for all departments meet
for prayers in the college chapel every day except
Mondays at eleven-thirty. And, in addition, one
Thursday each month at four, in the same place, a
lecture is delivered by some member of the faculty
or by some invited speaker from abroad. This
last regular convocation, it is interesting to note,
is the modern successor of the time-honoured
" Thursday lecture " in which Oberlin for so long
bore witness to its New England and English
Puritan descent.

Inasmuch as President Thwing of the Western
Reserve University has come to be regarded in this
country almost as an authority on college training
for women, the girls' department of his particular
charge has, of course, a special claim to our atten-



Coeducational Colleges of the West 275

tion. It is called the Cleveland College for Women,
and grew out of a permission to let one young
woman enter certain classes of Adalbert College
(the liberal arts department of Western Reserve
University) to pursue certain subjects in which
she was interested. This resulted in an increasing
number of girls making application for the full
course, in a growing opposition of the professors
to their admission, and in the ardent and deter-
mined advocacy of President Cutler in favour of
making Adelbert College coeducational. Finally it
was made clear that, since the intention of the found-
ers of Adelbert was to provide education for men
only, a firm stand must be taken against the in-
coming of women. The result of it all was that
courses were duplicated for the benefit of girls.
And it is in this form rather than in coeducation
that girls have been admitted to Western Reserve
University. They receive their degrees with the
men, to be sure, but the system is that of coordina-

Of other universities in the West which have
their own good quota of women students there are
many — Ohio State, with about two hundred girls,
the University of Colorado with more than one
hundred and fifty, Colorado College and the Uni-
versity of Denver with only a few less — to mention

276 The College Girl of America

merely a few of the more important not here de-
scribed. It is, however, sufficiently clear, I think,
that, while the educational opportunities afforded
by these coeducational colleges of the West are
admirable, the social life is for the most part dis-
tinctly inferior to that which a girl may enjoy at
any one of the colleges especially for women.

But there is still the other objection to coeduca-
tion to be considered, that summed up in the word
" love-making." Dr. Stanley Hall has just pub-
lished an important book to show that during the
period of adolescence boys and girls should not be
educated together, and this quite as much for the
sake of the boys as for the sake of the girls. His
argument might very well apply, in my opinion,
to coeducation in colleges. Not only do the girls
miss the fun pure and simple which is so valuable
a part of their college life, but they incur the
grave disadvantage of being exposed at an im-
pressionable age to the bacillus of sentimentality.
Not to go into this subject — of which very much
that is extreme and sensational has been written —
it is undeniable that a great deal of inconsequent
" love-making " does exist in coeducational colleges.
People who discuss this matter are wont to point
comfortably to the fact that " there has never been
any scandal" here or there; they seem to think

Coeducational Colleges of the West 277

the subject is then satisfactorily dismissed. But if
college annuals are any fair reflection of college
life, if the intimate talk of students may be trusted
as affording authentic insight into the student social
life, the young men and the girls at coeducational
universities flirt a good deal, and often carry their
flirtations to the point which means that one or

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Online LibraryMary Caroline CrawfordThe college girl of America and the institutions which make her what she is → online text (page 15 of 18)