In Response to: More on Coeducation

A letter in the Dec. 7 issue raised a question about the decision in the early 1970s to admit undergraduates without requiring the number of males to remain the same as prior to coeducation.

William Bowen *58 became president July 1, 1972, and hired me as the first in-house legal counsel. At an early trustee meeting I attended, there was a report about the increasing numbers of female applicants, following relatively smaller numbers in the very first years of coeducation. I pointed out that, under the then-recently enacted Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, a fixed number of admittees that adversely affected some applicants on the basis of their sex would be illegal. I also advised that such a quota would probably be illegal under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. 

The choice before the trustees was either a) to essentially double the size of each entering class to reflect the fact that women were approaching the number of male applicants, or b) if holding the size of each class to the level decided upon at the time of the coeducation decision was a priority, to allow the number of admitted men and women to reflect their respective strengths as applicants, without any fixed number. As I recall, there was no dissent among the trustees that holding to the increase in size was the substantially higher priority, and indeed some trustees expressed the view that maintaining a quota for men that would clearly disadvantage female applicants was wrong educationally and would be offensive morally. 

These events are well covered in detail in “Keep The Damned Women Out”: The Struggle for Coeducation by Nancy Weiss Malkiel, professor of history emeritus and longtime dean of the college. 

Thomas H. Wright ’62
Vice president and secretary emeritus, Vieques, Puerto Rico