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BLOG | Read all about it! The 21st Anniversary of the Mills Strike

A banner used during the Mills Strike in 1990 showcased again during last year's Strike Launch party at the Student Union. (Melodie Miu)

As reminded by Mills alum ’90 and Striker, Sally Moses, on The Campanil Facebook page, we’ve learned that yesterday marked the 21st Anniversary of the famous 16-day Mills Strike.

On May 3, 1990, approximately 400 students, staff and faculty members were gathered on Toyon Meadow to hear Chairman Warren Hellman announce the Board of Trustees’ decision to admit men into undergraduate programs at Mills, citing financial instability and lagging enrollment. The rest of his announcement was drowned out by cries and jeers of protest as students reacted to the news.

Within hours, Mills students mobilized and voted to close down the College in order to reverse the administrative decision, and by the next day, the Strike was in full effect.

Students shut down five buildings by physically blockading their 19 doorways and “redecorated” them with colorful banners, posters and fliers, all heavily adorned with the symbol for female identity, the color yellow and slogans like “We do not accept this,” “138 years: Why stop now?” and “Women’s education for the next generation” which became symbols of the Strike.

After about two weeks, the College decided to reverse its decision and keep Mills College as a women’s institution to the excitement of the Mills community. The school then almost tripled the endowment over the next two decades, and steadily increased enrollment year by year. Today, despite a downturn in the economy, Mills is thriving as a women’s college because of the work the alumnae and students did in those 16 days 20 years ago.

The front page of the Strike issue. The Campanil's logo is wearing a yellow beret, an ancessory worn by Strikers. (Melodie Miu)

Last year, The Campanil wrote and distributed our special Strike issue during Commencement 2010 to commemorate the 20th Strike Anniversary, chronicling “the birth and death of Mills College undergraduate coeducation.” You can now read all the articles we’ve published below:

20th Strike Anniversary: Honoring the past and future of Mills women
Overview: Anatomy of the Mills Strike
Strike Q & A: President Janet Holmgren
Strike Q & A: Professor John Harris
Behind the Front Lines: Faculty perspective on the Mills Strike
Once shunned Strike statue now celebrated
A former student reporter’s perspective: Lisa Kremer
Drawing the Revolution: Cartoonist who depicted Strike completes new book
Student activism on campus 20 years after the Strike
Never before seen: Opinion: Challenging sexism during the Strike

If you would like a print version of the Strike issue, please contact for them to be picked up or mailed. They’re now FREE.

Also, check out the photos from last year’s 20th Strike Anniversary party:

If you would like to contribute funding to The Campanil, you can donate via PayPal below: