Women's College? Challenge Accepted

By Lily Foss ‘13Feminism Columnist

Okay, I know we’re all sick of that CMC Forum article by now. I was sick of it by the end of the day it came out. But among the points that Ms. Miller made in her article, there’s one that particularly irked me. Well, they all irked me, but I was especially frustrated by the tired argument that women who apply to a women’s college are doing so because they’re afraid to be “challenged” by a co-ed school. Ugh. Anyone who says that has no idea how challenging a women’s college actually is.

For one thing, an environment that’s almost entirely female is a new experience for a lot of students. I know that some of you went to all-girls schools in the past, but for the rest of us, this is completely new. I’m the only girl in my family; before coming to Scripps, my experience living entirely with women was limited to a few summers at camp when I was in middle school (and I hated camp—I think I’m the least outdoorsy person in the entire state of New Hampshire). It wasn’t until the summer before college that I realized that Scripps would be unlike anywhere I had ever been. I had grown up with two brothers and no sisters. I had primarily male friends. To be honest, I was nervous about coming here.

You know what else is challenging? Being at a school that doesn’t expect less from me because I’m a woman. I’m certainly not saying that all coed school are inherently sexist. Before college, I had only attended co-ed public schools, and I encountered very little sexism. But statistically speaking, graduates of women’s colleges are twice as likely to earn a Ph.D, twice as likely to go on to medical school, and, “Are more likely to engage in higher order thinking activities and integrative activities that lead to deep learning” (stats and quote from the Scripps website). That’s a lot to live up to. If I was really afraid of a ‘challenge,’ why would I go to a school that expects so much from me?

But the most challenging thing? People who insult my school. People who tell me that I’m here because I’m too scared to go to a coed school. Screw you, people. How would you have any idea what going to a women’s college is like? Do you know how upsetting it is to have people tell you that you aren’t brave enough to go to a co-ed college? Do you know how frustrating it is to have to defend your school from people who attack it just because it’s a women’s college? Do you have any idea how demeaning it is to have people call you a man-hater, a slut, and a “Saturday night nightmare” just because of the school you chose? I went to a panel in the Hampton Room once about the future of single-sex education, and one of the women there, the headmaster of an all-girls high school, said that, “Nothing draws misogyny like a women’s institution.” She couldn’t be more right.

These are just a few challenges. I’m sure everyone here had struggles of their own when they decided to apply here. But I doubt that anyone chose to apply to a women’s college because they were afraid of a co-ed school. If I know Scripps students, there’s no way that any of us would back away from a challenge. After all, we’re confident, courageous, and hopeful.