Established in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest of the Colonial Colleges which predate the establishment of the United States. It took women 200 years before they were able to be a part of any form of higher eduction in the United States. Instead of educating women with the Harvard men, the institution chose to create a coordinate institution, Radcliffe College, for the women. Radcliffe opened in 1879, and since the 1970s, Harvard has been coeducational.
In 1870, the year young Bettie Locke, one of the first five females enrolled at Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw) in Greencastle, Indiana refused the offer of a Phi Gamma Delta badge and created a fraternity of her own, there were less than 600 institutions of f higher education in the United States. Of that number only 29% were coeducational, 12% were female only and 59% were male only. In 1870, according to Mabel Newcomer, less than one percent of all females 18 through 21 years of age were enrolled in any form of higher education.
For the members of Kappa Alpha Theta, Delta Gamma, and Alpha Phi who are enrolled at Harvard University, it might as well be 1870.* They are currently facing challenges similar to those experienced by the early members of those organizations. The early female college students sought support systems and friends with whom they could share the experience of higher education. While the literary and debating societies may have filled these needs for some of the women, it appeared that others were seeking stronger bonds of sisterhood. Out of this search came women’s fraternities/sororities.
Today, January 23, sorority women are asked to wear their badges to show support for the NPC women at Harvard. Let’s flood twitterdom with the #HearHerHarvard hashtag to show support for their steadfastness in the face of adversity.
From a previous post entitled Hypocrisy Thy Name is Harvard:
I find it odd that one of the most exclusive of universities is suddenly concerned about being equitable. The class of entering freshmen, the first to be subjected to this edict, had a 5.2% acceptance rate. Of the more than 39,000 applicants, only 2,037 were admitted. And yet, Harvard is denouncing “exclusivity.” I have an idea, Harvard. Take the first 2,000 students who apply, no matter their GPAs, extracurriculars, essays, etc. Just take them as they come in. Or better yet, distribute “golden tickets” a la Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After all, it’s the fair thing to do. I suspect that many of the 37,000 high school seniors who received the “thanks, but no thanks” letter were devastated about that decision. It’s just not fair that some students are accepted to your university and others are not. Open Harvard up to everyone; it’s the equitable thing to do.
*The Eta Theta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma was suspended indefinitely earlier this year. Collegiate members in good standing were granted alumna status.