1970 sure was a groovy time to be here at the University. The first year that female transfers were admitted, 1970 was full of rallies, sit-ins, protests, and tie-dye, but of course, the first female students since 1911 faced their share of unwanted male attention. I visited the Argives and then imagined what a stringy-haired coed might write home to her worried grandmother.
I appreciate your concern, but calling me every hour is really not at all necessary! I know you want me to transfer back to Wellesley, but I just won’t: someone has to be among the first coeds, and it might as well be me.
And please don’t worry about the incident a few weeks ago. The security measures on the new women’s dorms have been beefed up—now a security guard is stationed at the front door—and since then there hasn’t been any trouble. And both of the women who were attacked are a little rattled, but fine.
I understand, however, why the headline “Two Wesleyan Coeds Molested on Campus” would alarm you, and the incident was quite frightening. The first coed was simply returning to her room, having left it momentarily unlocked, when she was surprised to find a young white male waiting for her—and he was ready to pounce! Luckily, her screams scared him away. As he fled crowds came running, luckily before he had done much damage. The reports say that he was blond and wearing a yellow light windbreaker and dark trousers—and he was high school age. The chump doesn’t even go to Wesleyan!
But I swear that Wesleyan is doing its best to make sure that we new coed transfers are adjusting well. I wear my rape whistle everywhere I go, in case I’m the next victim. And just last week a group of us met to discuss our complaints as women; unfortunately only six of us showed up. We spoke about the number of female professors, the lack of athletic programs for women, the small number of women involved in student organizations, and the refusal of the health center to dispense birth control (which of course doesn’t concern me, Grandmother). I do feel as though we have a lot of work to do, because as The Argus reported, “Most of the women attending the meeting agreed that the poor attendance was due to a combination of general apathy and the feeling that the meeting would not accomplish anything.” But, excitingly enough, Gloria Steinem recently spoke about women’s liberation on campus, and it was just groovy! (If only The Argus had not misspelled her name—they reported that one Miss Stenam spoke.)
Of course, women are not the only group demanding quality on campus. Puerto Rican students recently occupied the admissions office in North College and demanded that the administration admit 20 Latin students for the class of ’74. It was far out! People are saying that the first freshman class of women will also be the class of ’74—so the women here won’t just be transfers, but actually spend all four years on campus, the same as any of the men!
But sexism and racism are not the only fronts on which change is happening. Oh, Grandmother, it’s an exciting time to be alive! When you were born, in a shack in Yugoslavia, I bet you never dreamed of the things you would one day see: men on the moon, calculators, artificial hearts! But the most exciting news: next weekend, the Grateful Dead will play on campus.
Do you remember who the Grateful Dead are? Well, if not, I’ll remind you: they are beautiful rockers, Grandmother. They speak to my generation. I’m not really a rocker myself—although I have let my hair get quite long, much to your chagrin—but the Grateful Dead are quite good. And I know you just began tolerating the Beatles last week, so it might take you until 1985 to even listen to one of the Grateful Dead’s tamer records, so maybe just trust me on this one: they are very, very cool.
People are saying that between 10,000 and 30,000 people will show up! (And the cast of Hair and members of the Hog Farm Commune might be in attendance, but that’s really besides the point.) Recently, however, the Dead’s appearance has been cast into doubt after they were arrested in New Orleans on drug charges (Mother, when you’re translating this into Serbian for Grandmother, maybe leave out that part). Another possible issue is that there is a May Day boycott and rally planned just before their arrival: students are planning to protest Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale’s murder charge in New Haven (another detail you might leave out).
Anyway, they’re stopping by on a tour of colleges in the northeast. After us, they’ll be on to MIT. I can only harbor a guess that it won’t be quite as eventful, but who knows; even physics nerds can be captivated by the magic of Jerry Garcia!
If that weren’t groovy enough, this past week I attended a workshop called “Who Am I,” hosted by the Experimental and West Colleges. We did yoga (have I told you about yoga? It’s a wonderful exercise in stretching the body) and then attempted to answer the question: “who am I?” We didn’t get very far, but I did realize that I truly love botany.
Grandmother, to reiterate, I’m perfectly safe. I have my best friend, Susan, who transferred from Smith, as well as a few male friends to protect me. I promise to get my hair trimmed next time I come home. Please remember to take your medication, and don’t watch the evening news; I know how the war in Vietnam gets you riled up (it gets me riled up, too, and in fact next week I’ll be attending a protest against it).
Hugs and kisses,