The CLOK Strikes

The first female students arrived in Gambier as something like second-class citizens, having been admitted not to Kenyon but to that odd, artificial, and ultimately unworkable entity called the Coordinate College. (It didn't even have a proper name. Harcourt College? Hannah More College? Both were considered, but nothing was ever chosen.) The trustees abolished this ill-defined institution and made Kenyon coed in February 1972. (It would be a decade before many of the first women would actually get to sign the Matriculation Book.)

But integration would take time, and struggle. Old Kenyon, that potent collegiate symbol, with its storied history, phallic spires, and desirable south-campus location, would remain an all-male bastion until a challenge was mounted by an intrepid (and coed) group called CLOK: the Committee to Liberate Old Kenyon.

CLOK's most dramatic exploit was an all-night protest vigil in April 1976, over Parents' Weekend. A dozen students, men as well as women, shivered through the night in seven tents on the lawn outside Cromwell Cottage. Signs at the encampment read "Smash Sexism" and (less punchy but more to the point) "More Housing for Independents."

Parents took notice. One mother, passing by, raised her fist and shouted "Right on!" Another grumbled, "If you think Kenyon has problems, then why don't you transfer to the University of Michigan?" At which a professor murmured, according to the Collegian, "They don't have problems at the University of Michigan?"

As the chilly night drew on, President Philip H. Jordan Jr. and his wife, Sheila, sent out coffee and cookies. Then, around midnight, some frat men came "wobbling" by (the verb is the Collegian's), and an argument ensued, lasting until it started to rain at around 2:30 a.m.

Whether it was the vigil's doing or not, later that spring the College decided to house women in one or more of the historic dorms (Old Kenyon, Hanna, Leonard), and in 1977-78 women moved into Old Kenyon. Independent women occupied the second-floor West Division, while female members of the Peeps occupied the second-floor East Division.

Old Kenyon has been coed ever since. DeliciousFacebook FacebookStumbleUpon StumbleUponDigg Diggreddit reddit