SDSU women have embraced changes

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Women’s presence at SDSU has changed a lot throughout the years. In 1967, women were not allowed to leave campus to visit a man’s apartment. Today, women hold two of the highest-ranking administrative positions at SDSU.

Provost Laurie Nichols and Marysz Rames, vice president for student affairs, fill two of the highest administrative positions at SDSU.

“I think the changes are positive,” said Erin Leiding, a sophomore speech communications major. “I’ve never experienced any kind of discrimination.”

SDSU has gone from having the bulk of its female students enrolled in home economics, teaching and nursing to having female students who are pre-medical, engineering and wildlife and fisheries majors. These were once considered to be majors targeted for men.

The April 17, 1946, issue of The Collegian featured a front-page story on the increased number of females in the engineering department. The story references former associate professor of civil engineering Calvin C. Oleson, who discussed women joining his field.

“There is a place for women in engineering today (1946),” said Oleson. “Perhaps not in actual construction, but definitely in planning and design. It is a mighty fine thing for any girl to have a knowledge of engineering.”

Today at SDSU, approximately 6 percent more women than men attend SDSU.

The topic of residence hall visiting hours posed problems for women on campus in the ’60s. In an Oct. 3, 1963, issue of The Collegian, Mary Walser, former feature editor of The Collegian, wrote a story comparing the closing hours of other surrounding universities to the closing hours of SDSU.

In 1963, closing hours at SDSU were Monday through Thursday, 10:30 p.m., Friday, 12:30 a.m., Saturday, 1 a.m., and Sunday, 11 p.m., for women only.

“The State coeds interviewed agreed almost unanimously that they should be given a chance to prove that they are responsible near-adults,” Walser wrote in her story, “rather than, as one coed said, ‘children who must be locked and bolted into the dorm.'”

Today at State, the residence halls are all co-ed, and there is no curfew for students of either gender.

In a March 12, 1964, issue of The Collegian, the staff wrote an editorial calling the 10:30 p.m. curfew for co-eds “hopelessly out of date.”

The editorial went on to say “a liberalization of dormitory hours for women will not trigger a great outbreak of wanton immorality. Instead, it will modernize the regulations, make college policies more consistent, and will give women the adult status they deserve.”

In addition to curfews in female residence halls, there was a time when women were not allowed to visit men in off-campus apartments.

On Nov. 1, 1967, SDSU’s Board of Control moved to bar women from male students’ off-campus apartments. A resolution with more than 1,000 signatures protested the regulation.

“I see nothing wrong with a woman going to a man’s off-campus apartment. It is not a legal issue, but a moral one,” Charles Burke, former president of the Board of Regents, told The Collegian at the time.

The regulation was later dropped, and women were allowed to visit men off campus.

“I’ve always lived off campus. ? Right now I share a house with two guy roommates and girls,” said Kayla Hanson, a junior nursing major. “The rules are much less strict.”

Vivian Volstorff, who SDSU’s Volstorff Ballroom is named after, was one of the first women to join SDSU’s faculty.

In September of 1932, she came to SDSU as dean of women and instructor of history. She was later promoted to full professor of history. She was the originator of Women’s Day at State University in 1933.

Volstorff also had multiple degrees from well-known universities. She attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where she received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy. She also attended Harvard University for one summer.

Volstorff is an example of a woman who had a higher education and went against the sterotypes of her time. She had a long career at SDSU in a dean’s position.

Readers should be sure to look for the 125th anniversary special section in the Feb. 3 issue of The Collegian.