Colgate Goes Co-Educational: 132 Women Admitted into the Class of 1974

Selina Koller

September 6, 1970

The following article is based off of the September 6, 1970 articles written by James Surkamp and Douglas Levine and published in the Colgate Maroon.

Female students are now ubiq­uitous and integral to the Colgate community, but this is only the fortieth academic year that women have graced campus with their pres­ence. The Colgate Class of 1974 was the first to include women, and the first female students moved onto campus in the fall of 1970.

“Today, three years after the Board of Trustees first endorsed the principle of coeducation, the University welcomes 132 freshman women. They are the first female freshman in the 151-year history of the college,” said the article entitled “First Freshmen Women Are Matric­ulate Here, Girls Credentials Boost Overall Academic Quality,” which was written by James Surkamp and appeared in the September 6, 1970 issue of the Colgate Maroon.

Colgate was one of the first small colleges in the Northeast to become coeducational; Amherst College, for example, did not in­clude women until 1975. In the first co-ed freshman class, there were 452 men, in addition to the 132 women, meaning a roughly 1 to 5 woman to man ratio.

The 1970 article noted that the freshmen women were, on aver­age, stronger academically than the matriculating men.

“As a group, the women are considered academically superior to the men, according to Dean of Students Guy V. Martin, who oversaw selection of the class last year as Dean of Admissions,” Sur­kamp’s article said. The article cited that verbal and math SAT scores of women were, on average, 15 points higher than men’s.

To accommodate the incom­ing women, the University had to make changes, especially re­garding housing. According to the article, “Girls Shatter ‘Male Tradition’ As Campus Enters New Era,” by Douglas Levine, then News Co-Editor, in the same 1970 issue, “…the University has attempted to remedy feminine housing problems by supplying extra hanging rods in closets, full-length mirrors and ironing boards.” The same article also stated that the University intend­ed “…to integrate the girls in as many activities as we can: volley­ball, fencing, bowling, swimming, fencing, tennis golf; anything but the heavy contact sports.'”

As those first women moved into their dorms in the fall of 1970, they were likely appre­hensive to be the pioneer female graduates of Colgate. However, we can see that their willingness, coupled with the University’s im­mediate dedication to their ac­ceptance on campus, led to the presence and involvement of women that is evident today.