“I fought hard in Southern California alumni meetings in the late 1960s to have Lafayette become a coed institution. We met at the infamous male bastion, The Jonathan Club, in downtown LA. No women were allowed at the time. The older alums were adamant NOT to change! I badjered them repeatedly, finally getting them to admit. Coeds on campus are a plus because they will be smart, help fill classrooms where needed. Dates will be easier on football weekends and other weekend events. Lastly, one of my high school mothers sent one of her talented daughters to Lafayette. When asked four years later, Peggy informed me her daughter had a wonderful experience at Lafayette! I was so pleased with my recommendation. Lucy, Class of 1974, good for you and your classmates. Glad to have helped!”

~Tom Burns ’62

“At the height of the protests against the Vietnam War, Mike Mannix ’72 displayed a handmade sign in front of the Administration Building which said: “WE WANT PIECE IN CAMPUS.” I laughed out loud then. Still funny in our politically correct charged atmosphere. Those first 100 freshmen women were amazing: each and every one a beauty and the least intelligent was smarter than the smartest guy. And there were 1,800 of us idiots who realized how stupid we were to attend an all-male institution. We were so desperate during freshman year in ’68-’69 that one warm evening we sat on the back of South College randomly screaming towards downtown with the hope a townie woman with superhuman hearing would hear our pathetic plea and climb the College Hill steps. “Barbarella” with a sultry, young Jane Fonda, was playing downtown. We all saw it despite it being among the worst movies ever made. My daughter Jennifer Harrison Pollina ’90 and husband Christopher Pollina ’90. Had a vastly different experience.”

~Mark Harrison ’72

“During my senior year at Lafayette (1968-’69), I was invited to join a small group of students to discuss the possibility of admitting women to the College. I believe Dean Cole formed the group and chaired the meetings. I was a lifelong Eastonian and commuted to classes all four years. I supported the admission of women to Lafayette, noting that some fathers of daughters in the Easton community would welcome the change. My father was one of these as he had three daughters. When I visit Easton, I frequently walk the campus and I am so very pleased to see the Lafayette student body includes women.”

~Ed Barrese ’69

“In May 2011, myself and five other members of the faculty were invited to what I believe was the first reunion of “The First Women of Lafayette.” We jointly took a walk down memory lane while sharing news, views, and many memories of that momentous occasion, when in 1970, these ladies had embarked on their journey toward becoming part of the class of 1974. See archived web page that includes photos taken during our many “chats.”

~Ed McDonald ’64, Professor Emeritus

“I met my husband, William H. Gawthrop, Jr. ’71, on a campus tour on 9/10/70, and we were married on 6/17/72.”

~Deborah Kachelriess-Gawthrop ’73

“I entered Lafayette in the fall of 1973, excited to be part of one of the first coed classes at Lafayette. There was still a sense of there being new “firsts” for women at Lafayette. There were rumors of which faculty members had been against coeducation (never substantiated) who would be tougher on female students. Very few of us entered as engineering majors, nor was I one of them. I initially planned on majoring in biology, but eventually turned towards liberal arts, specifically religion, and received my BA in 1977. Sexism showed itself in the lack of STEM majors among us. There was also an infamous episode of members of one fraternity standing outside their house rating women from 1-10 as they walked by.”

~Ann E. (Wyckoff) Beauchamp ’77

“After being early decision admitted, I followed the co-ed debate closely, and remember certain fraternity- and football-alumni vehement opposition. It was a muggy and grey Welcoming Day ’70 when I met Liza Roos Lucy ’74 and her puppies in front of the then-coed-only Reuf Hall. The real impact was the Quad’s first co-ed football rally with our new female cheerleaders. Gail Daniels ’74, not only joined us on the fencing team but also was my Kirby housemate (forerunner to sororities). As an engineering student, I didn’t have co-ed department mates until fall ’72, when Lynn Sinclair ’74, also my fencing team’s manager, began her studies. I remember gazing longingly at Humanities classes’ greater ‘coededness.’”

~RM ’73

“In the summer of 1970, my roommate, Jack McGowan ’73 and I were looking forward to moving into a room in Gates Hall. A letter from the College that August changed our plans. We learned there were not enough rooms for male students, so they advised us to stay at the YMCA in downtown Easton until rooms became available. We followed this advice but found the YMCA a little bleak (it was a few years before the Village People made it famous). Getting up and down the hill to campus once or twice a day wasn’t fun either. After a week, we moved out and found two empty beds on the deck (common sleeping area) at KDR. With all our belongings tucked under our beds, we had a temporary place to live. In a month or so, the situation improved. The Black House (located at the site of the Farinon Center) was completed, a few students moved into the rooms there and we finally got our room in Gates Hall. Was it worth it? Of course, it was. The College is a much better place because of coeducation. Our temporary inconvenience was a small price to pay. A few years ago, I was invited to give a talk at Wabash College in Indiana. It is a real throwback as one of the very few all-male institutions left in the U.S. Because I knew they would enjoy hearing it, my biography mentioned that I was a proud member of the last class at Lafayette which was admitted as all men. They loved the comment. However, I really wanted to tell them that life is much better with men and women working together but felt that it would fall on deaf ears.”

~Stan Trout ’73

“In the fall of 1969 I was in my sophomore year at Wilson College. I was aware that Lafayette was accepting women students, including a limited number of upperclasswomen. I applied and was accepted into the junior class, which graduated in 1972, the first group of women to earn diplomas from Lafayette College. An exciting and interesting adventure awaited. I remember being the “subject” of numerous psych 101 studies as the 123 women were frequently interviewed for student projects! Lafayette was academically challenging and opened many avenues for me. The time passed so quickly, as a senior psychology major I found myself considering post-graduation options. My academic advisor introduced me to a new MEd program starting at the University of Pittsburgh, supporting and teaching young children with multiple disabilities. I applied and was accepted. That was the beginning of a 42 year career of teaching and school administration, focused on students with disabilities. Taking that first step to apply to a formerly all male college was only the first of many that increasingly developed confidence, independence and a spirit of “yes, I can do that!” I look back on my time at Lafayette with gratitude and fondness. I also credit Lafayette with my 15 seconds of fame as I was the first woman ever to be handed a diploma at the 1972 graduation ceremony!”

~Linda Maloney (Baker) ’72

“As a member of the Class of 1974, I was among the men who joined the first class of women on campus for our freshman year at Lafayette. The reason that I am writing is to tell you that I would not have applied to Lafayette if the school had not turned coed. Having attended an all boys high school, I only wanted to go to college at a coed institution. From my perspective, Lafayette did a great job in integrating women into most aspects of the College. It was certainly great to see the large number of women at Lafayette by the time we all graduated four years later. The women started contributing from the day they arrived, and kept at it throughout my time at the school.”

~Rob Engel ’74

“When going coed was proposed, I received an opportunity to express my opinion. I was against the idea because I knew that I would not have survived. Twenty-six years later my daughter graduated from Lafayette and I was a very proud Dad.”

~James Wild ’58

“I am originally from the Bronx, NY. I am a sophomore at Lafayette College. In my junior year of high school, I was selected to be a teen advisor to The United Nations Foundation Girl Up. An organization dedicated to empowering young girls nationally and internationally. Working with them to pass important legislation like the Girls Count Act that helps get girls registered at birth in foreign countries, to fundraising money for different initiatives, it was always important for me as a young Black woman to empower others. Being the first in my family to attend a four year university is important to me for so many reasons. My parents immigrated here from a different country so getting an education like the one I have at Lafayette has opened so many doors and opportunities for me. In this 50-year celebration and seeing images of women arriving here at Lafayette has shown me how far we’ve come. The contributions that women have made to the campus shows the importance of women and how we can be trailblazers for other people. In my first year, I founded the club Girl Up Lafayette based on the experiences I had with the organization to help empower other young women on campus to lead and inspire and take a stand on the issues they care about. Whether it be access to education, or representation in the workplace, or ending issues such as femicide. I’m glad that I am finding my footing here at Lafayette. Thank you to all the women who came before me.”

~Fatima Cham ’23