Each girl entering the freshman class at Wellesley this fall received a yellow introductory booklet describing life at the College. An essential element of Wellesley seemed to be Harvard, the editors implied. They defined it as: "Not strictly a part of Wellesley. We share it with Radcliffe."
Harvardmen might object to this possessive definition, but even the most conscientious objector could not deny the importance of both colleges in life at Harvard. Radcliffe's eminent position was even proclaimed nationally two years ago, when The Saturday Evening Post entitled an article: "They're Wearing Lipstick at Harvard Now."
The article mentioned only Radcliffe as the "Lipstick" factor. But look around today at the Princeton game, or at cocktail parties and dances afterward. You will see a great many girls--far too many for all of them to be Cliffdwellers. A survey of the crowd would probably reveal that there are equally as many, if not more, Wellesley girls present. All the girls will look approximately the same--their best. Yet underneath this? female facade, there are some basic difference between the average Annex girl and her Wellesley counterpart.
Situated on a 400 acre campus, Wellesley is an idyllic, but isolated community. Despite its relative closeness to Boston, it still remains a country school, virtually inaccessible without a car. A Harvard student who dates a Wellesley girl twice a week for one year, has to cover over 2,000 miles just to see his love and get home again. If he takes her into Cambridge or Boston each time, the distance traveled doubles, equalling that of a journey across the country and back again as far as Denver.
Most Wellesley girls deny that so much traveling makes their lives at all unnatural, although they do admit that there is a "vast difference" between weekdays and weekend existence. During the week they occupy themselves with studies and extracurricular activities. "It's a wonderfully friendly place here," one sophomore explained. "There's always plenty to do. The two days at the end of the week break up our normal routine."
It is this friendly, carefree Wellesley atmosphere which endears the College to many of its girls. But weekends are a problem. As one alumna pointed out, "Any girl who couldn't manage to have a date on Saturday night was in danger of being a social failure." A present junior, agreeing with this, understands the point: "life is much easier here with a weekend date."
The fundamental quality of the Wellesley girl's life is illustrated by one of the hints offered in the yellow introductory booklet. "Get as much sleep as you can," it suggests. "Then come weekend time you'll be gay and sparkling straight through." Few and far between are weekday dates at Wellesley, except for studying. There are, however, only two special study rooms available for girls and their dates in the recreation building. These are crowded, but only with juniors and seniors. And although girls can invite boys to any meal they desire, most of the guests only come for Sunday dinner. "None have shown up for breakfast yet," one girl commented.
The double existence of a Wellesley girl is also reflected in the way she dresses. "You need two kinds of outfits around here," one junior says: "A woolen dress for weekends, knee socks, bermuda shorts, and an old shirt for the rest of the week."
Life magazine illustrated this point all too well when it printed a Picture of the Week more than ten years ago showing a Wellesley girl walking down a street in dungarees with shirt tails hanging out in the accepted casual style of the day. The girl was photographed unawares, however, as a long standing Wellesley rule states that no girl may "pose for any picture or contribute any information to the press while under the jurisdiction of the College unless (she) has permission from the Director of Publicity."
The Administration probably would not object to picture-taking on weekends. Stimulated by the reappearance of the male element on the campus, the Wellesleyite is then less casual in her attire. Men are new and thrilling animals for her after their five day absence. One can see this enthusiasm especially in her attitude toward a blind date.
Such a date is, and must be regarded as something exciting--a Prince Charming who will remove the girl from the cloister into a new world. Always eager to meet new people, one southern belle commented brightly that she met most of her intriguing dates just by "wandering around on weekends, all dressed up, picking up strays." Naturally it is a treat for Wellesley girls to get away for weekends. Many would even go away with a blind date--provided that he had good references.
Of Key Importance
No matter how much Wellesley girls may like to escape their campus, however, they have to return promptly on time. Normally their dorms are locked up tight at 10 p.m. Any girl wanting to get in after that hour, unlike the Radcliffe girl, who has her own front door key, must push a button which turns on a light to attract the night watchman.
The exceptions to this procedure are on Friday and Saturday evenings when the doors are opened again at 12:55 a.m. to anticipate the one o'clock rush. But about one minute past the hour they are once again closed. Wellesley has a comprehensive honor system, but this is one phase of college life about which the administration is very strict. President Margaret Clapp summed it up in a letter she wrote to the class of 1959: "You will find us an informal group (though with a liking for propriety)."