Barnard's New Women's Center and the Thinking Behind It, 1971, page 1

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          "Barnard's New Women's Center and the Thinking Behind It"

Presentation at group session for Women's Colleges at AAC National
Conference by Nora Percival, Director of Alumnae Affairs, Barnard College

Yesterday afternoon many of us heard a,good many quotations at the
Women's Lib session. I'd like to contribute another.

Two hundred years ago Samuel Johnson described an unconventional

feminine pursuit thus: "A woman's preaching is like a dog's walking
on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find
it done at all.” Though this condenscension may seem archaic to us,

it still strongly colors attitudes today —- only now we call it male
chauvinism. Certainly the aim of the new feminists to reexamine and
redefine sex roles in our society seems a necessary prerequisite to
establishing new and more ample human roles for both sexes —— what
Phyllis Johnson yesterday aptly described as "human liberation."

Barnard's involvement with programs for women is really the

renewal of an old commitment, since feminism has been from the

beginning a part of our history. Our name itself honors a president

of Columbia University for his belief in full educational opportunities
for women and his efforts to promote them. One of our early deans,

sixty years ago, examined the sociological position of women through

the ages in a study which was reissued just last year. And Virginial
Gildersleeve, who guided Barnard for 36 years, established a strong-
tradition for its women to work toward broad social goals. As the

only American woman delegate involved in the formation of the United
Nations, she amply demonstrated on how great a stage a woman could play
her part. .

Now that the unfinished business of feminism has been brought out

to be decisively dealt with, we are realizing that women's own psychological
conditioning to accept an inferior role was one large reason why the early
gains were not pressed. So it seems important to provide opportunities

to help women understand their own history, natures, potentialities and
social roles. And surely a college for women is a proper place to achieve
this necessary understanding.

At Barnard our first major effort came in the spring of 1970,
when we held a Conference on Women, with leading sociologist Alice Rossi
as the major speaker. On that occasion we explored from many directions
the social, economic and psychological needs of women and in what ways
these could be more adequately met.

Our June Reunion program was also planned around this theme, and the
enthusiastic response of the alumnae -- and even of the wider community --
was ample proof, if any was needed, that the subject is one of vital concern
to a wide cross-section of our graduates.

We offered a varied a;d serious program, expanded to two full days.
Here are some of the highlights:_ authoraalumna Elizabeth Janeway discussed