Claremont Men's College, with Women
“The Analyst Papers,” named in honor of CMC’s first student newspaper, the Analyst, is a five-part series published by the Forum, the official student publication of Claremont McKenna College.
For the first time, the history of Claremont McKenna has been brought online. The Analyst Papers has been published in the form of five accessible articles, with the aim of navigating through years of characters, monuments, and obstacles. CMC's history is a short one, but a good one, and few know much of it. To learn it is to better understand what CMC stands for, its challenges and its future.
In 1996, the Trustees of CMC commissioned California historian Kevin Starr to write a book commemorating the College’s first fifty years. His remarkable work, “Commerce and Civilization: Claremont McKenna College, 1946-1996”, has been a key source for this series.
Additionally, CMC’s Development Office has opened the College’s archives to Forum staff for this project. We thank them, as well as the CMC Alumni Association, for access to primary sources and first-hand interviews.
Part II: CMC's Conservative Heart
Part III: The Challenge of the Campus
Highlights in Part IV:
· The founders of CMC believed the college's specialties – economics and government – were fields for men.
· A fraternity culture permeated the school from its inception, with "beer busts" and men's clubs like the Tortugateers and the Knickerbockers.
· In his fight to turn the College coed, President Stark considered resignation.
Part V: Our Place in the Liberal Arts
Claremont Men's College, with Women
After three long years of “tasteless lunches, long conclaves, and mountains of paper,” the trustees of Claremont Men’s College voted by two-thirds to admit women to the school on April 25, 1975. It was a monumental decision for the institution, a decision that should have fundamentally changed the masculine heart of the school. When it came down to it, however, the women that began to trickle into CMC did not differentiate themselves from their male classmates by much more than gender.
· Before The Integration ·
In the founding of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona set forth an agenda for a “broadly comprehensive coeducational liberal arts college” and Scripps was meant to be a women’s college preparing young women for marriage, teaching, and other limited opportunities. The third college, Claremont Men’s College, was to be for men, whom the college would train for careers in “male-oriented public and private sectors.” Translation: Men would enroll at CMC to learn economics and government. The college was founded as a business-oriented institution and, in 1946, these professions excluded women.
This is not to say CMCers of that era did not interact with the women of the Claremont Colleges. The relationship between CMC men and Pomona and Scripps women was integral to the happiness of these men. The Analyst, CMC’s earliest newspaper, did occasional surveys and questionnaires of undergraduate tastes and preferences. When asked for whom CMC had done the most good, the majority of students replied, “Scripps College.” The ultimate dream for the early postwar CMC ungrads, as then-social chairman Ted Hinckley remembered it, was “of a new car, an income somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000, a California ranch-style house, three or four kids, and obviously a Scripps or Pomona lovely to make it all come true."
· The Importance of Claremont Women ·
Themed dances and formal events were the social mainstays for CMC men. The high point of the social year, the Starlight Ball, featured a queen and her court, while the men and the rest of their dates participated in an elaborate outdoor dance. Around the winter holidays, there was a semi-formal Candlelight Ball. In 1949, the first Monte Carlo, a tradition still in place, was held at CMC. Describing the affair, an Analyst article promoted the event with “soft music, shielded lights, [and] the low whirr of roulette shell as dame fortune picks her beau.” This was the generation that created the baby boom—marriage was in the air. As Kevin Starr’s Commerce and Civilization notes, finance professor W. Bayard Taylor would instruct his students to “cross the street and marry your working capital,” as he gestured across Ninth Street. Inevitably, there was a certain social codependence upon which both single-sex institutions relied.
· The Rise of "Joe College" ·
The student population changed as fewer veterans enrolled, and younger, less mature men entered CMC. The initial scare of the Korean War had ended with the election of President Eisenhower; it was now the era of “Joe College.” More CMCers were affluent, fun loving, and not exceedingly concerned with academics. Dean of Students William Alamshah described the mood of the school in 1954 as “practical and pragmatic,” much like today’s unofficial “work hard, play hard” motto. And also much like today, the campus social calendar seemed to be quite wide-ranging, consistent, and thematic. Future CMC President Jack Stark '57 managed a "Boothill Stomp," including a hayride and dancing. Every January, the freshman class sponsored a "Prohibition Prom," in which students and their dates dressed in the style of the 1920s. Alumni interviewed for Starr's book also fondly recall spending Friday afternoons in the orange groves north of Foothill Boulevard with Scrippsies for their Thank-God-It's-Friday (TGIF) beer parties.
Undoubtedly, certain aspects of the CMC playboy mentality adapted during this decade, and remain pervasive to this day. In 1959, a high-profile Harper's article profiling the Claremont Colleges was published. While Pomona was stately, Scripps was elegant, and Harvey Mudd was science-oriented, CMC was described as full of "would-be tycoons, future Rotarians...exuberantly extroverted, tireless cheerleaders of fun, and, in their own self-image, mad bad playboys." It's no wonder such generalizations stuck for decades when described as such on a national stage.
Two rowdy social clubs, the Knickerbockers and the Tortugateers, were also formed towards the end of this carefree era preceding the turmoil of the Vietnam War. The Knickerbockers boasted a preppy style--dressing themselves in coats and ties in order to draw Ivy League comparisons. The Tortugateers, on the other hand, donned unusual hats and a much more casual attire based around t-shirts and shorts. Despite differences in appearances, the two clubs shared one major thing in common: partying.
· Tradition's Changing Tide ·
By the mid-1960s, however, the debauchery and pranks of the social clubs had faded. These traditions died as the political atmosphere became more serious and serenading Scrippsies was replaced with concerns over war protests. Even before coeducation was on the table, CMC men were confronting trustees with difficult demands. Citing the importance of learning to live with women as people rather than view them as "potential conquests," student body president Larry Gilson requested coed living in campus housing.
The college entered the 1970s as an all-male institution, "prizing strength of character and rugged individualism." By 1972, serious discussion on coeducation had already begun. The decision was largely focused around public relations issues. Various members of the admissions office staff predicted it would be far easier to market CMC on a national stage if it could, in theory, double its audience. Offering admission to both women and men would also allow the school to be more selective, further advancing the prestige of the school. The "sticky wicket" involved with the decision to go coed was a different side of the same coin. CMC had already spent a good 25 years promoting itself as Claremont Men's College. If it went coed, the school would necessarily need to change its name and effectively start over again. In the three years trustees debated the issue, this remained the most persistent concern.
· Great Deliberations ·
Many also feared a split among the trustees--an environment bad for fundraising. Donald McKenna, the chair of the subcommittee formed to study the issue, remained thoroughly unconvinced by arguments based on women having the right to attend CMC. Quite simply, McKenna had little interest in instituting more "minority" quotas. He posited an important possibility for all those fond of the type of man CMC had come to produce: "...we may get female students who are more like the activist feminists than the leaders of the future whom the advocates of coeducation tell us will be the ones who will actually come to CMC if we open our doors."
Why did the Board of Trustees finally land on the decision to begin admitting women? First, the school would be able to expand its applicant pool. Second, it was no longer a concern to the majority of the trustees that by admitting women the fundamental orientation of CMC towards business and government-related fields would change. They were rightly convinced the women that would begin applying to CMC would be attracted by this same strength in institution. Third, it was understood that, moving forward, fewer and fewer qualified men would be interested in enrolling in an all-male college. If the school resisted the shift, it would have likely faced a crisis in the search for qualified applicant pools. On that same note, the school was acutely aware of the national trend toward coeducation. By that time, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Williams, and Amherst--schools CMC saw as direct competition--had all gone coed.
The vast majority of CMC men supported the move to a coeducational school. A student survey conducted before the pivotal trustee meeting in April 1975 showed that 73 percent of students favored, 16 percent did not, and 11 percent remained undecided. Gone was the 1950s male-dominated and largely chivalrous ethos of the school.
The newly formed Associated Students of Claremont Men's College wrote the trustees to indicate they believed women had a right to attend CMC.
"The unnatural social situation, created by CMC's all-male character, does a great disservice to the student by not allowing him an unstrained, informal social atmosphere in which women can be regarded as friends and equals," said the ASCMC letter. Much like the early push to allow women to live in CMC dorms, the student position focused on a desire to develop something other than romantic relationships with women.
President Jack Stark kept the College focused on the issue throughout those three long years of deliberation. Both Jack Stark and his wife Jil had privately decided that if the coeducation plan were to be defeated, the couple no longer intended to remain in leadership at CMC. Stark considered the admission of women among the most important decisions in the entire history of his college. To him, the decision to go coed represented an ability for CMC students, trustees, and administrators to invest energy into the future of higher education instead of the past.
· A Woman's Place at CMC ·
On March 15, 1976, Kathy Hurley NEE Evans was the first woman to send in her deposit reserving a place in the class entering CMC that fall.
In an interview with the Forum, Hurley noted she was not attracted to CMC for any reason other than its strength in the academic programs in which she was interested. Her guidance counselor at Wheat Ridge High School in Lakewood, Colorado merely told her there was an opportunity to enroll at CMC, a school known for both private and public sector study.
Much like many of the other women choosing to enroll in CMC that first year, Hurley had no ulterior feminist motive. She was not out to prove a point or break new barriers. Just like any man, "Miss Evans typifi[ed] the student Claremont Men's College strives to admit. The first class of CMC women, around 50 in total, lived in some North Quad suites and Benson. Some formed extremely tight friendships in their minority status, while others were more interested in forming platonic male friendships. Hurley indicated that the early relationships between CMC women and Scripps women were not much different than what we find today. Although some felt competitive towards their neighbors across Ninth Street, no one was outwardly and incredibly hostile.
Similarly, Hurley felt that the male reaction also "ran the gamut." Some men had no interest in women attending CMC, some were indifferent, but most were very accepting and even excited about the arrival of their new classmates. Interestingly enough, Hurley's husband, Kelly Hurley '79, was one of the men initially skeptical of the prospect of coeducation. As a woman, Hurley felt just as much pressure to succeed after graduation. Graduating with a degree in economics, Hurley decided to follow her then-husband Kelly to Phoenix, where she began as the sole analyst of U-Haul's maintenance budget. She later moved into banking until she "retired" at 26. Unlike most of the women who graduated in the first class, Hurley did not continue to pursue a high-powered career over marriage and family. Already married at her five year reunion, Hurley explained she felt very much in the minority. Even the first graduating class of CMC women were expected to go out in the business world and make a name for themselves above all else.
The decision to go coed was a long and bureaucratic consultation, but the transition itself was rather easy. Little more changed on campus besides new athletic programs for Athenas and the logistics of the residence halls. The more women enrolled at CMC, the more it was clear the orientation of the institution was not going anywhere.
Economics and government may still be male-dominated fields, even now. But CMC attracted and will continue to attract students interested in these fields, whether or not they are men. CMCers, male or female, can still pride themselves on being "exuberantly extroverted," "tireless cheerleaders of fun," possessing a certain strength of character and "rugged individualism." Moving forward, CMC's greatest challenge will be to ensure the "CMC type" we all recognize remains the foundation of its past, and well as the promise of its future.