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Statement Made at the Nov. 1 Open Campus Meeting

Byline: by Maggie Sipps

Posted: November 16, 2012

I want to start off by thanking the commission for the time and effort that they have dedicated to this process and the recommendations that they have made. I know that it probably has not been an easy task, and that you are under a lot of pressure. I understand that for Wilson to successfully achieve financial stability it is necessary for there to be changes. These changes should reflect our mission, and our purpose.

I recognize that our mission includes both men and women in the adult degree program; however, we are primarily identified as a women's college - it is the most unique aspect about Wilson. It is impossible to be unaware that this is our identity; it's a part of everything that we stand for, and everything that we do. This identity transcends our campus and community. The whole purpose of the college, the reason that it is here today, is to provide educational opportunities for women. Why would the mission, purpose, and foundation of Wilson center on the importance of providing women with an educational opportunity if it was not what is valued? I be- institutions face. We find our voice Iieve that the mission statement was carefully written, and well thought out, because they are used to guide the actions of the college, convey our overall goals, provide the path, and guide our decision-making.

Not only do women receive a quality education at Wilson, but we also receive a transformational experience, which includes establishing leadership skills, building confidence, and finding our voice. The reason that Wilson is able to provide this experience to women is because we do not compete with men for leadership positions. Women make up the student government; they represent athletics, and a variety of clubs and organizations. This differs from almost all of the other institutions that we encounter in our lives, where men greatly outnumber women in leadership roles. We gain confidence because we are surrounded by other confident women. We are comfortable in our classes because we are the majority. We do not encounter the pressures and issues that women in co-educational because there is no one speaking over us. We are surrounded by a community that not only values what we have to say, but also encourages us to share our opinions.

It is written in our mission statement that, "Wilson has a proud history of educating women" - is that sense of pride lost? Even just the recommendation of Wilson becoming co-educational completely contrasts with our mission and purpose. This means that everything that we have believed in, that we have valued, is a lie. It sends a message to the entire Wilson community, and to all women, that we cannot stand on our own; we are not the independent and confident women that we believe we are. Instead we are inferior and inadequate. Our mission has not failed; we are failing to stay true to our mission.

What really makes Wilson thrive, and what is alive and thriving in Wilson, are women like me. Wilson women are independent, strong, passionate, intelligent, and proud. There are so many women that have experienced the unique education that Wilson provides, and it would be devastating if that experience were to change for future students. For more than 140 years Wilson has been able to respond and adapt to changing times, while still remaining true to our mission; I refuse to believe that we have explored all other possible solutions. This change may show the potential benefits, but there will be a far greater loss. There are some things that analyzing data cannot measure or appreciate. Sometimes you find that what you have is one of a kind, and you cannot evaluate it, compare it, or convert it down into a simple price. That is the Wilson Woman experience, and something so rare and special should be preserved at all costs, because it is in fact priceless.

Maybe this will make Wilson thrive, but the Wilson Woman, and the most extraordinary aspects of Wilson, will die. I cannot accept or respect any recommendation that does not stay true to the mission of our Women's College because it is not true to who we are.

Last Updated: February 24, 2013