The resolutions adopted by the Overseers yesterday are probably the initial steps in the most radical move Harvard has yet made to wards the education of women. The resolution to the effect that degrees of Harvard shall not be conferred on students of Radcliffe simply insists that the relations between the two institutions shall not be confused. The soundness of this position is not to be questioned. The second resolution has more import, it admits Radcliffe students to all Harvard courses which are intended primarily for graduates. Practically speaking, Harvard is to have coeducation in the Graduate School.
Towards this idea, our first feeling was one of repugnance. When, however, the matter was examined in detail, when it was discovered precisely why this move was made and precisely in what it will result, our feeling changed. The courses opened are only those in which advanced work is pursued; these courses are more expensive than any others and their duplication at Radcliffe cannot be afforded. Radcliffe students must be admitted to them here, or else be debarred altogether.
At the same time, the character of these courses is peculiar. The number of students who elect them is very small; in none of them was there an enrolment last year above twenty and the average was below seven. Small additions to such enrolment cause little or no inconvenience. Then too, the men and women who would take these courses are generally past their youth, with matured intellectual interests, and oftentimes with considerable experience of work in the world outside. The new arrangement would cause no awkwardness.
Since then Harvard has certain advantages which cannot be extended to women through Radcliffe as a medium, and since these can probably be extended directly without any sensible disturbance of present conditions, we see no reason why they should not be extended. Much good and no harm will result.
We say no harm will result, but we say it with a proviso. We mean that there is no harm in the change, considered strictly in itself, but that there might be a great deal of harm if it were interpreted as the first step to an introduction of co-education in the College. The College is quite different from the Graduate School, and must ever remain so. What is very likely good for the Graduate School would not be for the College. Circumstances are altogether different in the two departments. We are aware that the experiment of coeducation has been tried elsewhere and has been called successful; but co-education in Harvard College strikes us as nothing short of ridiculous.