Students Raise Their Voices
Campus has been enlivened this week as a group of students expressed frustration about the administration not “hearing” their voice on a number of issues, including the possibility of Wilson College admitting residential men.
Coeducation is one of several strategic ideas the Commission on Shaping the Future of Wilson College has forwarded to President Barbara K. Mistick for consideration. She will review and revise the ideas and submit her report to the Board of Trustees for their consideration and approval during a special meeting on December 1. The Commission was charged with recommending a realistic scenario for Wilson to increase enrollment and attain financial sustainability.
Throughout the week, students’ activities ranged from wearing class colors and dinks on Tuesday, to blanketing the campus with posters on Wednesday, picketing and placing gravestones on the Sharpe House lawn on Thursday, and dressing as men to signify what they see as the death of the Wilson Woman on Friday.
WCGA President Janelle Wills ’14 said the point of the protests were to “give students back a voice about any and many issues they face living here in the Wilson community.”
Wills said students were asked to speak out on their choice of several topics that included: making Sarah’s coffeehouse – a popular student hang out – into a makeshift library, adding regulations to student participation in College traditions, shortening senior week to a two-day period, and the faculty changing the College judiciary system without student input. According to Wills, “This is against the joint governance of the College between the faculty and students.” In addition, Wills said some students chose to voice their concerns about the Commission’s recommendation to go co-ed. “Due to the emotion behind this issue, it seemed to be the most prevalent,” she said.
Individuals around campus have a broad range of perspectives about the protest and coeducation.
WCGA Officer Rachael Kinley ’13 says her greatest concern is that the administration listens to the students going forward and noted a recent WCGA proposal to the administration for a student center that is on hold.
Kinley feels indifferent about coeducation. “If Wilson has to go coed then I am okay with that but I want the College to do everything else before going coed. I would like to see future students have the same experience I have had here.”
Chris Hall, an ADP freshman, is thinking about the broader community. “The decision will affect the faculty, staff and the Chambersburg community,” he said. “If something happened to Wilson, how many people would have to find a job?”
In addition, he is disturbed by the division he sees on campus and calls for a unified effort. “We are all at Wilson for an education. Wouldn’t it be better for Wilson if we stood together? Wilson doesn’t define us, but it is a part of all of us,” he said. “If Wilson is important, we need to do whatever we can to keep it alive.”
Another ADP freshman, David Pooler, believes the Commission has done good work. “It is impossible to remain stagnant,” he said. “The new programs will help attract new students.”
Daniela Kenmure ’13 is irked that the College has waited so long to solve its financial difficulties. “We didn’t go $31.8 million in debt overnight,” she said. “So now we are being punished for what has happened years ago. But if we have to go coed, we have to.”
Samantha Wallace ’14 also says she will support whatever it takes to keep the College open as long as all of the other options were looked at first. “I am not firmly against going coed,” she said, “but the fact that the College is all women means it has unique aspects to it, and I would like to keep those aspects.”
CFW juniors Breanna Cardasso and Jaime Strawbridge, who were participating in the protest and dressed as men, said they would be all right if the College went coed but are concerned that the traditions won’t be retained.
“I wouldn’t feel terrible,” said Cardasso, “but it would change the traditions.”
Raquel Feliciano ’13 said she is willing to “share her classes with men, if it means saving the school.”
Instructor of Veterinary Medical Technology Tammy Ege ’94 is proud to be a Wilson graduate and prefers that Wilson remain a woman’s college but understands if all the other options are exhausted. “I would not want to close the doors but…It would be an ideal world if we could stay the way we are.”
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— Debra Collins