The Colby Echo: Hue-and-cry against admitting women rooted in jealousy and prejudice

Colby Bicentennial Seal 1864-1913

June 1, 1877

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The Bowdoin Orient says: “The advantages of co-education of the sexes are seen at Colby, where the young ladies take the prizes, and the young gentlemen the ‘deads.’ And still we hear no complaint.” Right, neighbor. The world moves, and this north-east corner of the United States swings around with it. In our six-years experiment in admitting women to the College, we have tested some of the questions concerning co-education in the higher institution, and proved satisfactorily: First, that it is possible and feasible; second, that it brings no disadvantages, certainly, to either party interested, the young men or the young women, but on the contrary is advantageous to both. The hue-and-cry against admitting women to college has had its root in jealousy and prejudice and nothing more. Physicians have written against it and drawn astounding arguments from physiology and anatomy to prove that the female system is not adapted to the rigorous discipline of the curriculum; that it would inevitably break down under such a severe and exhaustive trial. But facts are against the doctors. Our young women have shown that they are as able to weather the four years’ course as the young men. They graduate in good health and spirits as their brothers. Given a strong and healthy constitution, no matter what the sex and given common sense enough to take care of the health, and there is no mental labor in the course severe and protracted enough to hurt anyone.

The presence of women in college infringes upon no right of the men and secures to themselves the right and privilege of all collegiate advantages. There are certain social duties and spheres peculiar to man, and which society intuitively feels it is improper and unnatural for woman to enter. Such are political duties and certain public professions.

Not only have the young women proved themselves physically equal to the task, but mentally also. Those representatives of the sex who have entered thus far have taken a high rank–in several cases among the foremost of their class; and they have taken a fair share of the general college prizes, because they fairly won them. They have also received such class offices and distinctions as seemed fit. “And still we hear no complaint.” Why should we? Honor to whom honor, tribute to whom tribute is due.