One of the many virtues of working and living on a college campus comes from the regular contact with young women and men. It offers a perspective on the zeitgeist that would be difficult to gain any other way.
The Beloit College Mindset List (co-founded by Ronald Nief P’99) provides a small window into the experiences and thinking of incoming first-year students. The 2013 list included observations about this generation of entering students, such as, “With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address,” “They have known only two presidents,” and “Having a chat has seldom involved talking.”
To that list, I would add one more observation: They have always known Wheaton as a coeducational institution.
It’s a fact that I’ve had reason to contemplate lately. Twenty-five years ago, 324 young women and 74 young men began their studies as Wheaton’s first coeducational class. For those students, it was the beginning of a four-year adventure that prepared them for professional careers and adult life. I have also come to understand how acutely aware they were of their role as pioneers, too. And in that role, they would have a say about what coeducation would mean to the college and our community.