Over the last couple of decades, PAW regularly has received and printed letters protesting, in one way or another, that women are taking over Princeton. The most recent example (May 13) is from John Schmid ’45, who objects that “feminization of Princeton seems to be pervasive, invading all activities so that Princeton now seems almost to be a women’s college with a good-sized male contingent.” Mr. Schmid fears that “the Princeton University I knew has been taken over by a female majority (for better or worse).” I respectfully suggest that Mr. Schmid’s conclusions are grounded in misinformation.
As for his comment about a “women’s college,” I assume he refers to the undergraduate student body. But today, male undergrads slightly outnumber female undergrads — a pattern that has held steady for many years. Indeed, I do not recall a single year when the undergraduate women outnumbered the men since Princeton began admitting undergraduate women in 1969. This is hardly a pervasive feminist invasion. Rather, it is merely rough parity.
As for Mr. Schmid’s second point regarding a female takeover of the University, I assume he refers to the faculty and administration, and particularly to President Tilghman. Yet Princeton’s deans and officers are divided evenly between men and women — 12 each. For instance, the president and dean of the college are women, and the provost and dean of the faculty are men. Likewise, four vice presidents are women, and four are men. This is not a feminist takeover. It is, again, merely parity.
I believe Mr. Schmid’s real concern is (to use his words) the loss of “the distinct masculine flavor of an all-male college.” Here, at least, he is on solid factual ground. I am a member of the last all-male entering class at Princeton, and when I enrolled, I was similarly smitten with the “distinct masculine flavor.” Yet four years later, after three years of coeducation, I concluded that the change was definitely for the better. In the many times I have gone “back to Nassau Hall” over the succeeding 37 years, I have seen nothing that has changed my mind.