The world moves, and this north-east corner of the United States swings around with it.” That articulation of progressive spirit was the thrust of an editorial in the Colby Echo in which the writer affirmed the acceptance of a group not typically welcomed on college campuses—women. “The hue-and-cry against admitting women to college has had its root in jealousy and prejudice and nothing more,” the writer said in June 1877.
The feeling wasn’t universal. Despite excelling in the classroom, women had to fight for their place at Colby well into the 20th century (see “Finding Miss Runnals”). The debate continued for decades as trustees and others considered whether women were displacing men and whether women needed their own curriculum, their own campus, and their own faculty (made up of women, of course).
I was struck by this as I perused letters and reports in the archives of Special Collections for the bicentennial special section in this issue. I was struck again as I read our story about gay athletes and their efforts to carve out a place at Colby (see “We Can Play”).
There doesn’t appear to be a hue and cry about gay athletes in most Colby circles, though the observations of Dom Kone ’13 and others are cautionary. One gay athlete steps forward in a particular sport and breaks a trail for gay athletes to follow. For Kone, Colby’s national champion sprinter, the sport is track. In other sports, do athletes watch and wait?
At some point (the tricentennial?) another editor of Colby may read this story with some bemusement, as I did the Echo writer’s brave stance on women. Perhaps it will be noted that there was a time when gay athletes at Colby were afraid to be open about their sexuality. In the meantime, the world does indeed move and, yes, this northeast corner of the United States swings around with it. Slowly but surely.
Gerry Boyle ’78, P’06