I asked Jean about the stress. I assumed that this intelligent, sensitive, and quietly firm woman, who had been editor of 'The Acorn' at the time of the hearing, would have been ready to argue forcibly. But I was not sure. "I do not recall any stress," she replied calmly. "I had no doubt, absolutely no doubt, that women would stay."
Brothers College staggered toward closure as Hitler's troops swaggered across Europe and Japanese ships controlled the Pacific Ocean. World War II offered no hideout for students; the long arm of the draft boards reached everywhere. By the summer of 1942, with the drainage of men painfully evident on campus, the editor of the _Alumnus_, with more bravado than brains, boasted that, "nobody's talking about women \ [in the college\]; not until the last man dies." Wiki Markup
The editor erred. The College faculty was doing its basic algebra: women students (x) times tuition (y) equaled faculty salaries (a) and building maintainence (b). In October 1942, the faculty recommended that "properly qualified students... irrespective of race, sex, or religious preference" should be admitted. Since race or religion had barred no one, that left only sex as something relevant, as far as admission was concerned.
It was considerably less than a shock heard around the world, but many die-hard alumni reacted sharply, although they held their fire for "the duration." Women\! Gone would be the macho days when an average male student wore sloppy clothes, shaved once a week, and played blackjack in the college basement without benefit of deodorant or mouthwash. Anyone with even a slim knowledge of Drew History should not have been surprised that women students would be attending classes. On April 1, 1915, the progressive Drew Theological Seminary faculty was deadly serious when it voted for the first time to admit women "on the same condition as accorded to men." Conservative trustees hedged on the radical recommendation, somewhat agreeing in a complexity of words that the original charter did not forbid females. They compromised, but only agreed that the seminary should "offer courses for training for other forms of service \ [than being a minister\] to all students as may desire to take them." Wiki Markup
Ruth Havighurst, Drew's first official woman student, enrolled in 1918, a few days after her marriage to Freeman Havighurst. Ruth remained in school only one year; Freeman received his B.D. in 1920. Women naturally presented some problems, particularly in housing. Each year a few were tucked away in the bottom floor of the Bowne Refectory (now Caspersen School of Graduate Studies). Others were housed in various downtown residences, a practice followed until the 1950s. They apparently used neither the playing floor nor the swimming pool in Bowne Gymnasium. Hiking across campus and to downtown rooms was exercise enough.