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Oral Histories

In 1971 Rutgers College administration was left to ensure that all Rutgers College programs and facilities were equal to both sexes. Among the areas addressed were residence halls, fraternities, health services, and athletics. Residence halls were kept either single-sex, or made coed by floor or co-ed by rooms. Most fraternities decided to allow women to join as "little sisters" and a part time gynecologist was added to the staff of the health center. Unfortunately the women's athletic program would not begin until 1974.

Listen to the voices of the first women of Rutgers College as they describe their experiences. After you have listened to the excerpts respond to the questions below. Please note that the audio files are rather large, so they may take a few minutes to load. Be patient and feel free to read the text of the interviews as well.

In 1971 Rutgers College administration was left to ensure that all Rutgers College programs and facilities were equal to both sexes. Among the areas addressed were residence halls, fraternities, health services, and athletics. Residence halls were kept either single-sex, or made coed by floor or co-ed by rooms. Most fraternities decided to allow women to join as "little sisters" and a part time gynecologist was added to the staff of the health center. Unfortunately the women's athletic program would not begin until 1974.

Listen to the voices of the first women of Rutgers College as they describe their experiences. After you have listened to the excerpts respond to the questions below. Please note that the audio files are rather large, so they may take a few minutes to load. Be patient and feel free to read the text of the interviews as well.

Deborah Jacquin Bracaglia

"No complaints"

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Phyllis Messinger

"Sexism at Targum"

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"Camaraderie"

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Diane Verhasselt

"Douglass v. Rutgers"

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"Classes at Rutgers"

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Melanie Willoughby

"Trailblazer"

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"Shower Curtains"

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All interviews are from "Women at Rutgers: A Living History" Oral History Project. 1994. Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives except S. Fernekes, taken by Kerry C. Kelly, 2001.


Questions for Discussion

  1. Summarize the experience of these women at Rutgers in 1972.
  2. How do their accounts compare to your own predictions above?
  3. What, if anything, surprised you about their experiences?
  4. Brainstorm 2 — 3 questions that you would like to ask a female graduate from the Class of 1976.