Related: Education, Living, Social Issues, Women, Women's Leadership

Lonely Hearts at UNC


Pity the poor women of the University of North Carolina squeezed into a booth in a gritty Chapel Hill bar waiting for “Mr. Right” to pass by.   Bless their hearts, they really do seem desperate …. see the article in today’s New York Times and judge for yourself!   While it’s too bad that all those Tar Heel ladies feel a need to drown their sorrows so publicly, what I really mind about the article is — surprise! — the writer’s statement that, “North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges.”

Wow.  Eerie.  I wonder how he knows?  I mean, seriously, has Alex Williams ever spent any time on a women’s college campus?  What’s the “eerily” word really intended to convey?   Strange?  Spooky?  Like something out of the Adams Family?  Ok, so we have our rituals and traditions.   But really, eerie?  I’m having a hard time seeing a sinister meaning in class colors and junior rings.   I felt compelled to add my own comment to the article, see comment #11.

Here’s what’s really strange, spooky and sad:  smart women acting like bimbos, drinking heavily as a gambit to attract men.   Puh-leeze!  We know guys like beer, but really, does smelling like a beer truck make it more likely that the guy in the baseball cap will marry you?

Ok, so I’m being overly critical and the women in the article are probably mortified.   Or at least their parents are mortified.

Here’s what’s even sadder:  time was when women were not welcome on the campus of UNC at Chapel Hill.   Women were routinely excluded from many institutions of higher education until the 1960’s and later.   Women’s colleges were founded to combat gender discrimination in higher education, and the success of these institutions in the late 19th and 20th centuries convinced the (mostly male) leaders of all-male institutions that women could go to college successfully without suffering nervous breakdowns.     In fact, the admission of women raised the standards at most formerly-male institutions, while, sadly, the women’s colleges that made women’s educational equality possible suffered severe enrollment losses.

Today, 50 historic women’s colleges continue to promote the education and advancement of women as their primary mission while welcoming men and women of all ages into most campus programs.   Far from being “eerie” and isolated male-deprived wastelands, today’s women’s colleges are remarkably vibrant and inclusive centers for education in the communities we serve.   Our graduates have amazing track records of achievement — and have wonderful families, spouses and partners,  and vast networks of lifelong friends.

Perhaps we can help those lonely women in North Carolina learn to be more self-sufficent.

Seriously, there’s an increasingly alarming trend in news articles about the majority of women on college campuses.   The gist seems to be that women should know that being too smart will hurt their chances for getting married.  Now, isn’t this exactly why women’s colleges have to exist in the first place — because women and girls are told repeatedly that it’s not cool to be smart, that they should hide their brilliance so as not to scare off the guys?   When women’s colleges raise this point, we get accused of making it all up — yet, the alarm bells over the new “gender gap” on college campuses continue to ring loud and strong.  There’s even a federal investigation into the question of whether some universities are using “affirmative action” to boost male enrollment.

I have a solution to this hand-wringing:  more women should consider choosing colleges that will take them seriously and promote their lifelong success — that’s what women’s colleges have been doing for more than 150 years, and given today’s climate where smart women once again appear unwelcome on many campuses, we’ll need to do it even more in the future.

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One Response to Lonely Hearts at UNC

  1. Judy Tart says:

    Kudos to you, Pat! As far as we think we have come, there’s always something like this to sneak up behind you! I too found this article quite sad. Here’s to institutions that value women!

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: