Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The lies that are spread about the destruction of women's colleges

I found this notice at the savechatham site. For those of you know may not know, the administration at Chatham College (located in Pittsburgh, PA) recently made the decision to go coed. And as we see again and again, it was a decision made with a great deal of subterfuge and lying. The disinformation continues as history is rewritten--the new line being that the decision wasn't "controversial" with current students and alumnae. That is demonstrably false:

On September 29th, posted an article originally sourced from a website called The Hechinger Report. The article highlighted the fight against the Wilson College co-ed decision, but also commented on Chatham’s decision. In that article, Bill Campbell, VP of Communications and Marketing for Chatham, is quoted as saying the decision to go co-ed at Chatham wasn’t controversial [like Wilson]. We disagree.

In response to this misrepresentation, we have drafted a letter to the editor that will be sent both to the and The Hechinger Report to let them know that Chatham’s decision was indeed controversial and that we, as alumnae, still disagree with Chatham’s decision as well as the way in which the decision was presented, made, and alumnae relations were soured purposefully over many months.

We have included the text of our letter below, including the signatures already gathered from supportive alumnae. If you would like to add your name to this letter, please do so either through comments here or on our corresponding Facebook post.

Here is the link to the original article. 

Dear Editor,
In your September 29 article, “Why Women’s Colleges are Opening the Door for Men,” it was suggested that “At Chatham University, the decision to admit men was much less controversial” than the decision by Wilson College to become a coeducational institution. Chatham’s administration continues to believe that the opposition to their decision was limited to a “small, but passionate, group of alumnae,” but the momentum the Save Chatham movement built in a short time proves otherwise.

The Save Chatham movement, consisting of more than 2,100 alumnae and supporters, launched on social media just hours after alumnae and current students received an email from Chatham announcing the resolution. Save Chatham’s mission brought these women together to brainstorm ways to fundraise, increase enrollment, and to continue to provide future generations of women the option to become World Ready Women at Chatham. The short-term mission of Save Chatham quickly changed to focusing on delaying the June vote as Chatham’s administration increasingly disrespected and disregarded alumnae and refused to have open and honest discussions.

Chatham’s administration, particularly President Esther Barazzone, has unsuccessfully attempted to make this decision “much less controversial.” During the town hall meetings in March, Dr. Barazzone dismissed alumnae lines of questioning and obfuscated the facts when she did not want to answer questions. She rejected outright many of the solutions offered by alumnae, giving many alumnae the impression that the decision already had been made, a belief that was strengthened when promotional materials for the decision and its tenets were made public immediately after the vote. Peaceful protests on campus on April 23 resulted in alumnae being threatened with arrest and escorted off-campus by campus security. On May 1, the day of the Board of Trustees vote, alumnae, current students, and supporters were corralled into a “Free Speech Zone” by the very institution that taught many of us how to use our voices to stand up for what we believe to be right. Following the vote in favor of a coed Chatham, Save Chatham transitioned to the Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association in order to provide a safe space for alumnae to process the decision while still identifying with the former college. When it became clear that the new alumnae group would not be disbanding, Chatham University issued “cease & desist” letters to Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association administrators and threatened legal action if the group did not immediately discontinue using the name “Chatham” in its title, further alienating alumnae.

The Save Chatham/Chatham College Independent Alumnae Association lives on today as the Filiae Nostrae Society (FNS). The name is derived from the Chatham College motto “Filiae nostrae sicut antarii lapides: that our daughters may be as cornerstones.” The FNS provides disenfranchised alumnae of Chatham College for Women a place to call home and gives alumnae an opportunity to network, to shine the spotlight on them and their successes, to support institutions that value a women’s-only environment, to reinvigorate former relationships and to build new ones with women from former and current women’s colleges – all part of alumnae engagement that Chatham abandoned long before the vote.

Additional information, including documentation supporting the information outlined above, can be found at or Save Chatham’s Facebook page. Information about the Filiae Nostrae Society can be found at


The Filiae Nostrae Society and supporting alumnae

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