This Week in Amherst History: September 13, 1976

This was the first year women were admitted to the freshman class, joining the female transfer students who were already attending. The freshman women in particular were anxious to keep, according to The Student, “the mood upbeat and the spirit ambitious” by planting trees and flowers in the urinals on their floors in the freshman dorms. This week in 1976, The Student photographed a freshman girl smiling next to a small tree planted in a urinal in James Hall.

Amherst was committed to “reversing the 155-year male tradition,” reported The Student. The College wanted to remove any sexual biases from the classroom. Professors examined and updated courses already taught at Amherst to cover women’s involvement in these subjects.

At this early point, professors did not expect the development of special women’s courses and certainly did not foresee a full women’s studies department.

The Student reported that “chauvinism in the classroom” was not the only concern. Although fraternities no longer exist today at Amherst, the College was also worried about the prevalence of fraternities on campus and of fraternity parties in students’ social lives.

The College hoped to add a “central social center,” later achieved with the Keefe Campus Center in 1987. Amherst also encouraged small parties as social alternatives.