Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/23

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THE REACTION FROM COEDUCATION.

be in jeopardy. No university can safely become a matrimonial bureau, nor yet a clearing house for flirtations. With the entire absence of supervision, which characterizes the attitude of many coeducational institutions toward the social life of students, it is not to be wondered at that an occasional silly boy and an occasional silly girl should occasionally do some extremely silly thing. It only remains to remember that the same boy and girl will, with remarkably few exceptions, do equally silly things whatever educational surroundings may be given them. Furthermore, institutions which have attempted to control these matters by fixed rules of deportment seem on the whole to have succeeded in producing rather more risqué escapades than those which eschew restrictions altogether. Public opinion has generally proved a safe guide in this direction. It would be folly to pretend that no social transgressions have occurred, but on the whole judged by any standard reasonably applicable to the situation, the relations of the men and women in the majority of such colleges seem to have been wholesome and unobjectionable. Instances of actual immorality have been so extremely rare as fairly to be considered pathological. That the future has some very serious perplexities in store on this score, however, for some peculiarly situated institutions of which we shall speak presently, seems more than probable. A very little injudicious conduct of the character under consideration goes far to create an atmosphere of a very obnoxious kind, and it is such infrequent but pervasive cases which cause anxiety to the friends and give courage to the foes of coeducation. Even though actual flirtation is avoided, many critics insist that boys' interests are stimulated in other boys' sisters at a time when it would be quite as well if they could be diverted into entirely different channels, even football. Girls, it is said, are unduly excited by masculine attention at a critical time in their physiological development, when they might better be engaged in storing their minds with useful learning. On the other side of this account it is to be observed that the shock of the class room goes far to shatter the traditional masculine idol in the feminine mind. This destructive process is in the case of most young women in such coeducational colleges begun in the primary schools and carried without interruption up to the academic level. By means of this anti-romantic treatment girls are untionably spared much painful disillusionizing, and they are brought through a difficult period with probably a minimum of silliness and mawkish sentimentality. Moreover, they are often spared certain highly morbid experiences familiar to the authorities of girls' colleges. In the case of the boy there is abundant evidence to warrant the opinion that the grosser forms of vice to which he falls an occasional prey are rendered distinctly less alluring by daily contact with women