In celebrating the admission of women to Princeton some 50 years ago, it is well to recall just how that decision was made. As the administration continued to reflect on the merits of coeducation over a period of years, most undergraduates and many others wondered if the “tipping point” for Princeton would ever arrive.
That moment came following the publication of an undergraduate survey conducted by Students for Women at Princeton, a hearty band of undergraduates supporting this change. Ninety-five percent of the 1,400 undergraduates who responded to the survey favored coeducation. Over 50% of those responding indicated that they would not advise their younger brothers to attend the University unless it began to admit women.
The strength of these undergraduate convictions hastened the admission of women to Princeton, one year later. It also ushered in a broader role for students in the stewardship of undergraduate life which continues to this day.
In the eyes of many, the admission of women to Princeton, now happily taken for granted, was the most important decision taken by the University in our time. The educational, cultural, and social benefits of coeducation transformed the University. As the last students to graduate from Princeton before coeducation was approved by the trustees, the Class of 1968 and many other members of the University community can take pride in their efforts to advance this transition and ensure that Princeton remained a world-class institution of higher learning.