The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Columns

November 18, 2013

Local college students pushed for equality in the late 1960s

(Continued)

The March 15 State Times edition had reactions from female co-eds about the curfew changes. A sophomore, Di, said, “I think every girl should have their own key. Signing out is a pain!” Helen, a freshman, said, “I wish I had it.”

Helen wasn’t alone in her sentiments about freshmen women having stricter rules. At midnight on Tuesday, April 2, 1968, 19 freshmen women defied the curfew restriction by sitting down on the steps of Morris Hall and remaining for about 90 minutes. It was to protest a recent rejection of a referendum calling for the abolition of curfews.

Despite warnings from SUNY Oneonta administration, some of the same women and many others joined in a protest on Wednesday night, totaling 75. The women also obtained the services of Mrs. Faith Seidenberg, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, as their attorney to fight the curfew as well as the punishments handed out for their violating the rules.

The case wasn’t resolved that semester and it was eventually taken to Federal Court, but by November 1968, restrictions were easing up, as all second-semester freshmen women would be granted a key privilege, effective Jan. 26, 1969. All curfews were in their dying days.

Co-ed dormitories were also being discussed around this time at SUNY Oneonta. In the early months of 1970, according to The State Times, 2,500 questionnaires were distributed among students concerning co-ed dormitory demands. There were 1,257 returned, and of those, 1,089 were in favor of a co-ed dorm being set up on campus.

On Monday, Feb. 23, the proposal received unanimous approval from the College’s Student Affairs Committee, and later approved by the Faculty Administrative Council. The most preferred plan at the time was the suites in the “newest residence halls (Curtis, Blodgett, MacDuff, and Matteson).”

Both Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta began co-ed dormitories in the fall of 1970. Hartwick had three, Oneonta two, and according to the May 24, 1971 edition of The Oneonta Star, both colleges were planning to add more in the fall. Students could still choose to live in same-sex dormitories. A student needed parental approval before being allowed to live in a co-ed dormitory, but freshmen students were excluded at the time.

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