The Ivy Coach Daily

August 31, 2022

Co-Educational Ivies

There’s a great piece in America’s oldest college newspaper on the fiftieth anniversary of Dartmouth going co-ed.

Do our readers know which of the eight Ivy League institutions was the last one to go co-educational? Harvard, you say? Guess again. No, it wasn’t Cornell. No, not Brown. It was Columbia in the fall of 1983. But, today, as we approach a historic anniversary, let’s focus on the Ivy League school that was the second to last to go co-ed within the Ivy League. That school? Dartmouth. The first group of women matriculated to the College on the Hill half a century ago this fall. That’s right. In September of 1972, a cohort of 177 female first-year students and 74 female transfer students broke the gender barrier at the institution that has been around since 1769. So for over two hundred years of Dartmouth’s history, the school was exclusively for men. Not anymore! And what was it like for these women to enter Dartmouth after the Board of Trustees voted in favor of co-education?

As Emily Fagell reports for The Dartmouth in a piece entitled “First matriculated Dartmouth women share experiences and lessons learned, 50 years later,” “Over the next four years, female members of the Class of 1976 experienced various hardships on campus — hostile fraternity basements, bricks through dorm windows, crude remarks in the campus dining hall and derogatory songs at their expense, to name a few. But the first women were also embraced by an ’intense and wonderful community,’ according to Ann Fritz Hackett ’76, the first alumna trustee of the College…Once they arrived, the first women were met by a ’male-dominated’ social scene, according to Sara Hoagland Hunter ’76. She explained that the campus was ’fraternity-central’ — the first sorority, Sigma Kappa sorority, was not established until 1977 — and there was ’no place that women [had] to gather.’ Although women were allowed in fraternities, they were occasionally met by antagonistic or inappropriate behavior.”

Dartmouth, of course, has come a long way from when the institution first went co-ed. It has come a long way since the school served as the inspiration behind the famous college fraternity movie Animal House. Yet that’s not to say that the school — like many other elite universities across America — still doesn’t have a long way to go. It sure does. But for the men of old Dartmouth, for the women of Dartmouth, as Dartmouth’s alma mater goes, we can say with conviction that many alumni are very proud of how far the institution has come and the direction it’s headed. And at this time next year, Dartmouth will be led by its first female president. It’s about time!

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