From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Women arrive on campus

Written By: information_management - Mar• 19•08

Last time, we talked about the move to admit women as day
students. Today, we’ll talk about how
day student coeducation worked, and begin the move to full residential

Following the board’s October 1970 decision to admit a small
number of women as day students, four women enrolled in February 1971. “Hey, there’s a girl in the room” became a
common exclamation that February, according to the Herald-Journal. One of the
women noted that “at first they stared a lot, but they’re getting used to us
now.” Three of the four were daughters
of Wofford professors, and a fourth was a Spartanburg student. Donna Green, the daughter of economics
professor Harold Green, Shelley Henry and Robin Henry, daughters of English
professor Edmund Henry, and Leslie Smith were the first four day students
admitted under the revised policy. Their
arrival, along with that of about two dozen new or transfer students, was a
front page story in the Old Gold and
, and received attention in the Herald-Journal
as well.

Of course, the college provided no facilities for women, and
one official noted that the institution was “not going co-ed” despite admitting
women! As Dean of Students Donald Welch explained
to the Old Gold and Black, the
college had made no plans for building a residence hall for women, hiring a
dean of women; the plan to admit women had more financial benefits than
costs. Still, the spring term allowed
for a period of adjustment before a larger number of women enrolled in the
fall. Shelley Henry noted that “there’s
always someone with a joke about Women’s Lib,” but that “they fight over who’s
going to open the door for us. One boy
even told me he was going to start taking a bath before coming to class in the
morning, but I think things are more relaxed now.” Leslie Smith explained that most professors
were getting used to saying “Good morning, gentlemen and lady.”

Donna Green tried to blend in as much as possible. A junior, she made an effort to wear bell
bottom jeans rather than dresses, which she claimed caused a commotion. Green graduated in 1972 with a psychology
degree, becoming the first woman to graduate with honors.

The arrival of about 25 women students in the fall of 1971
received scant notice in the pages of the Old
Gold and Black
. While the reaction
to women students was generally positive, some of the literature or newspaper
articles cam make a reader today cringe. The State, the Columbia newspaper, ran a photo of President Paul Hardin
sitting on the steps of Main Building surrounded by ten women students with the
caption “Pleasant Policy: Wofford College President Paul Hardin III, surrounded
by a dozen lovely coeds seems to be enjoying the new policy that permits female
day students to attend the college.” A similar photo ran in the
Herald-Journal. The headline of the
Herald-Journal article read “They’re Getting Used to Gals at Wofford” and made
sure to provide a physical description of each of the women quoted in the

By 1974, with an increasing number of women enrolled, women
had formed an “Association of Wofford Women” to “promote the interest of
Wofford women on the campus.” One
student, Pam Mason, who was president of the association, spoke of the
frustrations she faced as a woman student. “A lot of people think girls go to Wofford are just out to have a good
time, out looking for dates,” she said, “but they’re wrong. The female students at Wofford are there to
get an education.” The lack of athletic
facilities, coupled with a P.E. requirement, was a special frustration. “I take tennis at 9:30 in the morning, have
to dress in a bathroom in Shipp Hall, then go on to my classes afterward
without a shower.” Awwclipping
The association
pushed successfully for shower and dressing facilities, but was less successful
in pushing for a lounge for women who, without residence hall rooms, had
nowhere to go during the day. “It can
get very tiresome sitting in the canteen for that long. We don’t think it unreasonable that we be
provided a lounge.” The women also were
among those who were pressing the administration and the trustees to make a
decision on full residential coeducation.

We’ll look at the move to that final step next week.

Photos: Donna Green’s senior photo, 1972 Bohemian; Clippings from the Old Gold and Black, 1974, expressing goals of the Association of Wofford Women.

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