Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/25

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THE REACTION FROM COEDUCATION.

institutions are especially exposed to it. The number of girls in any city of 500,000 people who possess means and leisure sufficient to permit attendance upon a college is very large. If the college opens its doors directly in the faces of these young women, it can arouse no astonishment that many of them should walk in. Moreover, in the western cities which enjoy a practical monopoly of the coeducational system among city institutions, the brothers of these young women will not regularly come with them, or indeed go to any college. They are many of them drafted into the ranks of business life, and the natural balance of the sexes, which is displayed in the lower grades of the coeducational public school, is here entirely to seek. The families which will chiefly serve as recruiting grounds for these young women will be those in which wealth or comfortable means have been acquired in the present generation. In families where college traditions go back a generation or two, both boys and girls, if they go to college at all, will go to institutions determined as a rule by other than merely geographical considerations. But the stronger the local college, the more will it invade the ranks of this latter class, and it will probably draw upon the girls more largely than upon the boys, because of the indisposition to allow girls to leave home and because of the lesser significance for them of collegiate family tradition.

It will be strange if among these city-bred girls of leisure, many of whom will enjoy ample means, there should not be found a goodly number who go to college inspired with the same noble sentiment that now animates a considerable number of young men preparing for college—the disposition to have a good time and do the correct thing. Young women of this variety have already found their way into a number of the coeducational institutions, even those located outside the cities, and their coming even in small numbers has been attended by a distinct change in certain features of the college atmosphere. Judged by its external and most palpable fruits, the condition thus produced suggests at times its counterpart as already recognized in men's colleges—undue leisure unwisely spent, injudicious amusements and too many of them. Seen from the inside, it more often means on its positive side, an ingenuous interest in the more distinctly social phases of college life, and on its negative side, a freedom from the more imperious and sordid cares of the impecunious. We are assured on high authority that in at least one of the great universities for men, the idle and unprofitable class of rich boys has been awakened to a sense of responsibility and opportunity which is bringing splendid returns to the life of the institution. This is a comforting doctrine, and if confirmed in the progress of time, it furnishes ample ground for a confident optimism in the solution by the women themselves of any