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Records of the Committees (Group 33)
[143] Records of the Committee on the Status of Women, 1971 (1972-1979) -1985, 1 ft.

Historical Note

In the early 1970s the Oberlin Women’s Group, comprising female faculty members and wives of faculty members, held discussions on the inequalities and difficulties facing women at Oberlin College. As a response to these discussions, President Robert W. Fuller (b. 1936) and various members of the College community in 1971 established an Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women to explore these questions further.

This ad hoc committee was composed of faculty members, students, an administrator, a secretary, and wives of members of the faculty and or administration. Anna Ruth Brummett, associate professor of biology, was elected chairperson. Five subcommittees were established to accumulate data and make recommendations concerning the status of the major groups of women at Oberlin. The committee’s findings and recommendations were finalized in a report dated December 8, 1972. The 22 recommendations were aimed at rectifying current sexual discrimination, preventing such discrimination in the future, and creating new employment opportunities for women at Oberlin College. The General Faculty adopted the committee’s report, including the call for the formation of a standing committee to oversee the status and interests of women at Oberlin College.

The Committee on the Status of Women is composed of 15 members representing the faculty, staff, students, service workers, and wives of facuity members. The associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who is responsible for issues related to the status of women, is consulted when the other 14 members are chosen. The Nomination Committee of the General Faculty appoints five faculty members and four persons representing the staff, service workers, and wives of faculty members. Under the existing student government, the Student Appointment Committee appoints four students to the committee. The Committee on the Status of Women is charged with implementing the recommendations of the ad hoc committee and, through its discussions and investigations, continues to work toward sexual equality at Oberlin College.

Scope and Content

The records of the Committee on the Status of Women document the committee’s efforts to study, survey, and report on the status of all women in the Oberlin College community. The file is divided into eight series: minutes, 1971-1983; correspondence, 1971-1982; reports, 1972-1983; subcommittees, 1972; conferences and symposia, 1972-73, 1979; surveys, 1972; general, 1971-1985; and collected materials, 1971-1976. The minutes, reports, and correspondence are arranged chronologically. The minutes record the agenda, discussion, and decisions of the biweekly meetings; however, there are gaps until the fall of 1978. Correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, covers employment practices, instances of alleged discrimination, and women students. The “Reports and Recommendations” of December 8, 1972, and the “Final Disposition” of September 1973 comprise the bulk of the report series. The subcommittees’ proposals and recommendations are arranged chronologically. Three surveys on sex equity at Oberlin, with sample responses and tabulated results, are arranged alphabetically. The general file, arranged alphabetically, contains correspondence and financial records for the women’s handbook; notebooks of Betty Hayward, an original committee member, and Phyllis Glazier, the first chairperson of the standing committee; and resource lists given to spouses of new personnel who were seeking employment. The collected materials, arranged alphabetically by title, consist largely of articles on the status of women in the Oberlin community and of issues of Coming Out, an alternative campus newspaper.

[144] Records of Various Committees, 1912-1985, 18 ft. 9 in.

Historical Note

At Oberlin College five official bodies are empowered to create committees: the board of a trustees; the General Faculty; the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences; the faculty of the Conservatory of Music; and the Administrative and Professional Staff Council. The committees of interest here are the Men’s and Women’s Joint Board and the ad hoc Dormitory Visitation Committee.

Joint committees are created when the concerns to be explored come under the jurisdiction of more than one College body. The Men’s and Women’s Joint Board, for example, was a committee under the Women’s Board, the Oberlin Association of Women Students, and the Men’s Board. The joint board was responsible for handling judicial cases involving both men and women and rules pertaining to automobiles. Board members also passed legislation regarding social policy and regulation at Oberlin. Board actions were subject to review by the parent bodies, however.

Ad hoc committees, created when a specific issue needs attention, usually are dissolved once a report on the issue has been made. One such committee, the Dormitory Visitation Committee, was established by the General Faculty in March 1968 to review regulations pertaining to dormitory visitation. In its report to the General Faculty, dated May 9, 1968, he committee suggested revised visiting hours and new dormitory governance bodies. This led to the establishment of coeducational dormitories in 1971.

Scope and Content

Among the more important records are those of the Men’s and Women s Joint Board (2 in.), which contains minutes, 1965-66, and a list of members, 1965-66. The topics covered include the “marriage rule,” coeducational dormitories, and dormitory self-government.

The Dormitory Visitation Committee file (3 in.) documents the events leading to the establishment of the committee. Record series include minutes, reports, and proposals of the committee during the months of March, April, and May 1968. The correspondence of the dean of students with other College deans concerning coeducational dormitories is available. The collected material contains a summary of visiting hours at other schools.

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