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Sleepwalking Through the Halls of Coeducation

By David J. Scheffer

COEDUCATION "is a crime before God and humanity, that the physiology protests against and that experience weeps over... It emasculates the boys, stunts the girls; makes semi-eunuchs of one sex and agenes of the other," --former Harvard professor E.H. Clark in his Sex in Education, published in 1874.

For the first time since its founding in 1701. Yale College in September of 1969 admitted female students. This being the fourth year that women have been accepted in increasing numbers. Yale is currently confronting the issue of sex-blind admissions (admissions without regard to an applicant's sex but keeping the male-female ratio between 60 and 40 per cent.) The Yale Corporation recently postponed a decision on the university's admissions policy until December 9 in order to give alumni representatives more time to poll their constituents. While Yale alumni ponder, debate pervades the campus as the students and Yale administration grapple with the issue of equal admissions. For weeks discussions have taken place in a peaceful yet intense atmosphere.

On the other hand, Harvard, which accepted Radcliffe women into its classrooms in the 1940s, is lagging behind Yale in even debating the, full recognition of female students on an equal basis with men. It is doubtful whether President Bok's 2.5:1 male-female ratio plan will be able to stand the test of time. Harvard, whether it be today, in a month or in a year, is and will be faced with the same issues Yale is attempting to resolve, 2.5:1 ratios, can only result in temporary abatement of what many consider a moral argument.

Recently students at Yale overwhelmingly supported admitting more women through a sex-blind admissions policy. In a recent petition circulated by the Yale College Council, 3016 students signed the following statement: "Yale should admit applicants without regard to sex and with a 40 per cent minimum proportion of either sex. Beginning with the class of 1977, the goal should be total coeducation, and Yale should engage in active recruitment to ensure the most qualified applicant pool." The statement said the students support "an end to Yale's discriminatory admission policy and an end to overcrowding."

There has been no such clear concern on the part of Harvard with sex-blind admissions. Absent are the massive petition drives, meetings with corporation trustees, and face-to-face discussions with faculty, Administration, and alumni. Rather, the Harvard-Radcliffe student body seems to be content with a planned 2.5:1 male-female ratio by 1974. Discussions center more on the new girls in the Yard and the number of Cliffies in Kirkland House. In general, the student body at Harvard appear to be sleep-walking through the halls of coeducation.

DISCRIMINATION is one of the major thrusts behind the call for sex-blind admissions. Most students at Yale-feel that it is up to the administration to justify the present discriminatory quota policy. The burden is on the administration, the students claim, to explain why women are treated differently when it comes to the human intellect.

It is commonly known that, proportionally, women's average SAT scores tend to be higher than men's scores. Not only did a Yale trustee attest to this fact, he bluntly commented that women are simply more mature physically and mentally at age 17 than men are. If so, the students believe that for Yale to admit the most qualified students, it must enable its admissions office to choose sex-blind so that the qualified women, many of whom, at present, do not even apply because of the high male-female ration, can be accepted in parity with equally qualified men. The same argument can be applied to Harvard but is seldom discussed.

Is sex-blind admissions psychologically possible? Will the admissions officers consider women according to their merit or in juxtaposition with men? In a flexible 60-40 sex ratio, will women always end up on the low side Currently, more men than women apply to Harvard and Yale. A sex-blind admissions policy would undoubtedly raise not only the number of women who apply but also the number of men Both schools would many believe appear more attractive. They would capture the eye of many socially oriented intelligent students who shun the unnatural sex ratio offered by Harvard and Yale.

Changes in the admissions office would most likely be needed to offset any officer's psychological bias over an applicant's sex in determining his or her admittance. Should Harvard and Radcliffe combine their admissions offices? Should the admissions officer know an applicant's sex? It would be hard for him not to, due to an application's indicators in the form of activities. If so, an officer's preference for one sex could lead to imbalances in not only the male-female ratio but in the quality of the student body itself. In a sex-blind admissions system, those qualified men and women with the most impartial attitudes toward accepting a male or female certainly would be more desirable for the admissions office. Also, it might be necessary to rewrite the standard application forms in order to eliminate as many sex indicators as possible. It would be necessary to step up the active recruitment of women to par with the present recruitment of men. Whatever the changes, revisions in the admissions process are a must if sex-blind admissions becomes a reality.

What are the implications of a policy that falls short of sex-blind admissions? One complaint constantly heard at Yale deals with the alienation of Yale women. Due to their small numbers and the fact that they are split up throughout the university. Yale women tend to become isolated from other women and frustration often takes hold. Noting the Wellesley recently voted to stay all-female, many Yale women say there always will be groups of women who prefer to be isolated with their own sex. But the source of alienation at Yale, they say, stems not from the desire of women to band together, but from the institution not being able to handle them equally, due to a discriminatory admissions policy which holds down their numbers.

Many women accuse Yale of being a harsh mirror of the world outside. They say that Yale has not obligated itself to educating men and women together on an equal footing and with equal numbers. If the real world is to realize the potential of its women, then where else can it begin but in its highest institutions of learning? As one girl put it. "Never have I heard of a girl at Yale who wishes she was somewhere else. But never have I heard one ever say she was really contest with Yale." Yale men share the same complaint.

And Harvard? The shrinks at UHS preside over a daily procession of H. R discontents. Countless grievances have been aired that Radcliffe women feel alienated and frustrated. Large numbers of men (and some women) voice dissatisfaction with their sex lives, caught in the certainly that tomorrow will find Harvard as unnatural as yesterday.

An empirical survey of Yale was recently published in New Haven. It provided preliminary results of four surveys designed to collect information and opinion about Yale College from alumni, faculty, upperclassmen and freshmen. It found that men, especially white men report dissatisfaction with their relationships with members of the opposite sex at Yale," whereas the women are reasonably satisfied. The situation reverses when students are asked about relations with "members of your own sex at Yale."

Constantly, these figures were blamed upon lack of parity in the student body. Only when numbers of men and women are equal, say the students, will both sexes experience relative content with each other and with their education. The same sentiments are expressed at Harvard, but in such a restrained manner that few hear, much less react, Bok's 2.5:1 ratio plan has diffused student discontent to a point where vocal students only experience futility when they speak out.

OVERCROWDING IS another main cause of the recent push for equal admissions at Yale. Kingman Brewster, president of Yale University, allowed the admittance of over 300 women in this year's class while keeping that of men constant at just over 1000. The size of the present freshman class, 1350 projects an eventual undergraduate population of 5400 which most feel will result in an intolerable over crowding in the classrooms and the housing.

Brewster's policy has been to increase the number of women admitted while holding constant that of men. Though he has recently been denying it. Mr. Brewster is plagued by a statement he allegedly made a couple of years ago advocating that Yale College produce "1000 male leaders" each year. In order to do that, Yale's yearly increase in women in turn increases the total number of Yale students, from 4000 in 1969 to 5000 today and eventually 5400. The advantage the additional students bring is depicted in increased revenues for Yale's sorely depleted coffers.

Two new colleges are presently being constructed to partially handle this influx in the total number of students. Yet living conditions are becoming unbearable. Triples are quads, doubles are triples, singles are doubles. Dining halls are jammed. And of the 600 students now living off-campus, 200 of these are predicted to return if the overcrowding subsides. Classes, from large survey courses to seminars, are subscribed far beyond capacity. Numbers have doubled or tripled in the classrooms and faculty members are under intense pressure to expand themselves to encompass all their students and they find it impossible to do so.

Harvard students are beginning to find the same consequences. Many science courses are jammed beyond capacity. Survey courses in general are seeing a yearly influx of more students than the year before. Overcrowding already plagues some houses. While Radcliffe admits more women and Harvard stays constant in number, this University, will experience the same overcrowding Yale presently struggles with. As new dormitories are built to handle the influx of students, similar questions will be asked of the Administration to limit admittance and to use the new residences to alleviate the overcrowding in the Houses and freshman dormitories. Radcliffe women and hopefully Harvard men persistently will be demanding justifications for the University's discriminatory quotas.

Contingent to the increase in students at Yale has been a 15 per cent decrease in the faculty with another five per cent cut anticipated for this year in response to the University's budget deficit. As a result, Yale students find it much more difficult to communicate with

Bok's 2.5:1 ratio plan has diffused student discontent to a point where vocal students only experience futility when they speak out. their professors. The quality of their education has declined with over-crowded classrooms and labs, seminars with 22 people all trying to speak their few precious words, professors whose time only goes so far, and individuals becoming lost in larger and larger clean discussions.

At Harvard, while more students are admitted, the faculty is frozen. Foreseeable budget deficits will prod the Administration to make Faculty outs, only to worsen even more the student-faculty ratio and enlarge already crowded classrooms. The Budget Office may find solace in increasing the total number of students but the educational quality of Harvard can only suffer.

As a result, Yale students are advocating that Yale College not exceed 5000 at any one time. They request that no more than 1250 students be enrolled in the class of 1977 and subsequent classes. With sex-blind admissions, a limit of 1250 per class would lower the number of men admitted to between 600 and 700. Harvard would be wise to limit its student body to a similar number.

THE BASIC PROBLEMS inherent in switching over to a sex-blind admissions policy at Yale or Harvard stem from two major sources: tradition and economics. Traditionally, of course, both schools have been considered male bastions, and they are still male-dominated. The difficulty in switching from an all-male to a flexible 60-40 per cent male-female ratio lies with students parents and grandparents, many being graduates of the colleges People visualize things, one Yale trustee said, as in their younger days It is terribly hard to persuade someone, especially an alumnus, to even rationally thank about equal admissions when his vision of Yale or Harvard is so fixed and constant. He cares not to discuss it since the last thing the older generations want to do is to destroy their vision, the trustee remarked. How do you convince long-time Yale or Harvard or even Radcliffe alumni that the college they knew in 1925 should be so radically changed, as if it has not already been transformed, that their vision would be all but obsolete?

Further, since many older citizens cannot find an adequate means to vent their frustrations on what they conceive to be a deteriorating political scene, they tend to channel their despair toward established but threatened institutions, such as universities. To convince alumni of the soundness of sex-blind admissions will require slow, steady, yet intense efforts by students. For alumni visions of Harvard and Yale are not intellectual but emotional.

Economically, the argument constantly heard from the administrations at Harvard and Yale centers on alumni contributions. If these wealthy schools turn sex-blind, will the women graduates contribute their proportional share? After all, women, not men, own more assets in the United States. But women, on the whole, tend to earn less than their husbands, and educational contributions usually end up at the husband's alma mater rather than the wife's. However, a recent study at Yale indicates that female Yale graduates have contributed more of their salaries proportionally than their male counterparts. This is true at Radcliffe, too, where last year the average Cliffie gave more than her Harvard counterpart.

Yale and Radcliffe women argue that the only way women alumni will contribute as much to their colleges as the men rests upon what careers their Ivy education will provide for them. At present, males have a better chance at high-paying positions than women do. Yet if Yale, Harvard, and other Ivy schools establish equal admissions, the number of qualified women graduates will increase and, hopefully in the next 20 to 30 years, women will have their own financial resources from which to forward substantial contributions.

Certainly the success of women earning higher incomes is contingent upon their acceptance into society's professions and business, especially corporate, structures. In turn, many believe this is dependent upon equal education, in quality and quality, at not only Yale and Harvard but throughout the nation's institutions of higher learning. Only then will the numbers and incomes of women enable them to contribute to their colleges at the rate the men do.

Finally, perhaps the most excruciating dilemma facing Yale and Harvard's male graduates concern sports. If admissions are sex-blind and if the number of men per class is cut almost in half, then what of the football, basketball, swimming, hockey, and countless other intercollegiate sports? Will they sacrifice the Ivy Football Championship for some girl's SAT scores? If only around 650 men are to be admitted each year, won't the jocks be dropped first? Will women be integrated into the athletic teams? Will Brown beat Yale? The answers to these questions run to the core of the colleges' educational and athletic goals. As one student at Yale put it, "Yale's glory will quickly vanish with sex-blind admissions."

The Yale Corporation's postponement on voting yes or no to sex-blind admissions has undoubtedly created further discussions among Yale students concerning coeducation. But what of Harvard? Has its time come for meaningful debate on sex-blind admissions?

Yes--and the sooner the better. For if Harvard is, as so many seem to believe, the center of the world, then it is a mockery of its sophistication that it still fails to ameliorate the CHUL representatives and request a world's oldest injustice-sex seat, discrimination. The student discontent to long dormant should come to life. As early as January 5, Harvard-Radcliffe students will be able to bring sex-blind admissions to the forefront when the directors of the Associated Harvard Alumni arrive at Harvard for a three-day conference. They hope to meet in the Houses with student representatives for the purpose of discussing informally the issues that affect the present student body. There will be House meeting late that Friday afternoon with the students and the alumni. Those students desiring to voice their opinions about not only sex-blind admissions but other University issues should contact their CHUL representatives and request a sent.

Further action can be initiated through each student's local club. The H-R student should attempt to communicate with graduates, if necessary, the various visions stand hold for Harvard and Radcliffe. A lively debate should develop between all factions of the University community. As injuries as they may sometimes seem, reasoned words, not violent outbursts, will produce the most amenable discussion and results, Certainly Yale, which only new its first female student less than four years ago, should not remain so for ahead of Harvard in realistically coping with one of society's most explosive movements

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