Twenty five years ago this week, 41 Amherst women broke the fraternity barrier during rush week, determined to stand as equals with the males on campus. In the second year women were even admitted to the College, they proved their audacity and courage and pledged to become part of the male-dominated fraternity scene.
Before fraternities were banned, they played a key role in the social scene. Rush week, marked by rowdy and fun-filled events, was always eagerly anticipated. But the pledging experience was not pleasant for all females. Some women found the environment in certain fraternities uninviting and, furthermore, widespread opinion concerning women’s involvement in rush week was not entirely positive.
The week went better than expected, “silencing the doomsayers who predicted that the inclusion of women would temper the atmosphere of rush,” The Student reported. All the fraternities that extended their welcome to women did so enthusiastically as “almost every house filled or exceeded its quota,” The Student reported. The women’s participation in rush week was, nonetheless, quite symbolic, as women demonstrated that they had every intention of being full members of the College, both academically and socially.
Overall, the week was not dramatically affected by the women’s involvement. It went “no worse than usual,” according to The Student and women on campus were paving the way for even more inclusion in the College community.