Randolph coed move dispute goes to court
October 2, 2007
__Va. Supreme Court to review Randolph College cases in 2008__
The Virginia Supreme Court in Richmond announced last week that it would hear two disputes regarding Randolph College’s move to become a coeducational institution this academic year. Both case appeals, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in 2008, were previously dismissed by the Circuit Court of Lynchburg.
One of the cases being heard by the Supreme Court, which has been brought forth by nine students since 2006, involves a breach of contract by the college that promised students four years of education at a women’s college.
p. The second of the cases was filed by students and donors who argued that by admitting men, the college was violating the wishes of donors who gave to the college expecting to further the education of women in the liberal arts.
p. “We continue to feel very confident in our position,” Brenda Edson, a spokeswoman for Randolph College, said. “Our position has always been extensive litigation is not in the best interest of anyone.”
p. Randolph College, formerly known as Randolph-Macon Women’s College, decided in September of 2006 to focus more on global issues and to become coeducational. In a letter to the Washington Post later that month, Randolph College stated that the decision came about because of a two-and-a-half year research study that concluded that the market for women’s colleges nationwide was decreasing significantly.
p. However, the idea of coeducation was marked by campus-wide student discontent at the lack of consideration for student opinions shown by board of trustees votes. Ever since the officials presented the idea, the campus had been marked with numerous rallies, mass requests for transfer transcripts, striking from classes and other protest movements.
p. “I’m sad. I’m really sad,” sophomore Gabriella Medina said after the decision was made last year. “If we can’t reverse this, I’m going to transfer.”
p. About 60 colleges that are strictly for women exist nationwide compared to 300 in the 1960s, according to the Women’s College Coalition, a national association of women’s schools. Virginia currently has three other women’s schools: Sweet Briar College, Hollins University and Mary Baldwin College. Out of the three, Hollins and Mary Baldwin admit men into some of their programs.
“I think it’s financially doomed,” Helen McGehee, a 1942 alumna of Randolph College, told the Washington Post last year. “They don’t even have name recognition.”