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Strike ’92 revisited

Mills College Weekly

According to the Mills Weekly archives (or the Mills Stream, as
it was called until 1985), controversy about having men on the
Mills campus is nothing new. Alumnae have also weighed in on the
debate in the Mills Quarterly over the years.

A small percentage of students in the graduate programs have
been men since the 1920’s. But twice in the last 25 years the Board
of Trustees has made decisions to increase the number of men on
campus, only to reverse their plans in the face of fierce
resistance from students, alumnae, faculty and staff. Both times
the Board of Trustees was attempting to alleviate Mills’ financial

On April 19, 1979, the Mills Stream article “UCB Students at
Mills?” informed students that the Board was planning on renting
out empty dorm rooms to male and female UC Berkeley students. An
Oct. 25 article that year, “UCB, Leg Con: A Brief Update,” reported
that 472 students (about two-thirds of the undergrad student body)
had signed a petition to the Board asking for postponement of their
decision, and special meetings were to be held in the dorms to
discuss the question.

“Many of us came to Mills because we needed a change from the
stereotyped coed classroom atmosphere…” the article quoted one
student as saying. There was further discussion of the question in
the paper Nov. 8, and the Nov. 20 issue had a photograph of a
poster boasting “We Won!” along with an article questioning, “Are
Mills Students Sexist?” The answer, according to male grad students
quoted, was “yes.” In another article on Sept. 27, “Why Are ‘They’
Here?” women students complained about having men on campus. “…I
feel like they are less than honest to the student population,”
said one student of what she’d expected when she enrolled.

Again in 1990 the Board made a decision that was to spark a
fight, this time to make the Mills undergraduate program coed.
Declining enrollment had led them to conclude that Mills could only
survive as a coed institution. The result was a student-led,
alumnae-supported strike that shut down the college and, again,
caused the Board to reverse its decision. The Mills Quarterlies
from the summer and fall of 1990 are full of photos of the

A number of other women’s colleges in the United States also
have coed graduate programs, which were added decades after the
schools were begun, such as Hollins College and Simmons University,
or they are affiliated with coed institutions, like Scripps College
within the Claremont Colleges.