The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


By the people, for the people: CSG discusses going coed

Tensions at Chatham University ran high this week in reaction to the news that Chatham’s Board of Trustees is considering a proposal to make Chatham College for Women a coeducational institution. In response to the outpouring of opinions from the student body, the Chatham Student Government (CSG) encouraged students to attend their meeting on February 20 in order to express their thoughts on the subject. Despite the meeting’s 7:15 a.m. starting time, approximately 15 students made their way to the PCW room to voice their opinions, and hear what the Senate proposed to do about the issue.

Also in attendance at the meeting was Dean Karol Dean–Dean of the College for Women–as well as an alumna, who was politely asked to leave so that the meeting could be a closed forum for current students of Chatham University. This was in an effort to allow the senate to operate and discuss the issue before being exposed to any outside opinions, explained Zauyah Waite, Dean of Students.

Dean Waite also encouraged students to remember that this is just a proposal, and that now is their “opportunity to give feedback and be creative”. She mentioned that there will be more meetings throughout the semester, and that student’s can always sends their concerns to [email protected].

Jenny Schollaert, CSG Vice President, answered the main question at hand–what should be done about the issue–early in the meeting.  She explained that the CSG intends to present multiple (three to four) proposals to Chatham University President Esther Barazzone, on behalf of the student body, either outlining ideas for alternate courses of action, or in support of the move to a coed institution.  Multiple proposals would be necessary in order to accurately present the opinions of the entire student body to Barazzone and the Board.

One point that was brought up was the possible reactions from the student body to students with unpopular opinions, including those who support the change. To avoid any backlash, the idea of generating a campus wide survey was considered, though no decisions were made.

Of course, the question of how to maintain Chatham as a haven for women, even as a coed institution, was on everyone’s mind. Ideas included working to maintain traditions, having the entire student body take compulsory women’s studies courses, and creating a women’s leadership minor.

At the other end of the spectrum, the question of how to bring in more students if the proposal is voted down, was also widely discussed and included marketing more to transgendered students, as was mentioned by sophomore Rosemary Davies, and emphasizing Chatham’s accepting atmosphere. Davies also brought up the point that, although only two percent of female students are interested in an all-female college, those institutions make up only 0.1 percent of higher education institutions in the United States.

Senior Courtney Druzak also suggested talking to students and alumni about what brought them to Chatham–and how it made them better people–and using that to market the school.

One big conclusion of the meeting, however, was that more research and feedback from the students and faculty is necessary before the Senate can proceed with any of its proposed ideas.  One idea for research was to study other colleges who have gone coed and learn from their successes and mistakes. As Sarah Jugovic, CSG Vice President of Communication, joked, “obviously we don’t want to turn into a Carlow”.

Jugovic also mentioned petitioning the Board of Trustees to gain access to the research that they have conducted on the subject for the past two decades.

Other ideas for gaining information from the students included another Town Hall meeting, advertising the CSG meetings more, and the aforementioned survey; which would provide hard facts from the students.

Tahmina Tursonzadah, CSG Class of 2017 President, brought up the point that 2015 is much too soon for the transition, suggested that it be pushed back a few years in favor of further research.  The question however was where the money would come from in the meantime.

The final conclusions of the meeting were to move forward with proposals and research, and reach out to the student body to determine their thoughts on the issue. Efforts will be made to reach out to alumni at a later date, but only once the planning and proposals are complete. “Otherwise,” said Mareija Bibbs, CSG Executive President, “it would be a disservice to the current students”.

Regardless of people’s differing opinions, Caiden Fratangelo, CSG Class of 2014 President, emphasized the need to work with administration, not against it, saying, “This is a time for action, this is a time for solutions.”

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