Wesleyan Student Newspaper Pulls Controversial Piece About ‘Horrors of Single-Sex Education’

Editors at The Wesleyan Argus recently retracted a controversial opinion piece about “the horrors of single-sex education.”  They are now running a pair of apologies to readers in its place.

The article was written by a Wesleyan University junior who transferred to the Connecticut coed school from Bryn Mawr College.  She described the write-up as a “showcase . . . of the stereotypes I encountered as a student during my first two years at Bryn Mawr and to explain why a women’s college was not right for me.”

As the article notes at one point, “Socially, going to a women’s college means almost literally screaming ‘Death to the Patriarchy!’ all day, every day. It means bloody tampons strewn all over the bathroom floor. It means glaring at the coed schools’ sports teams who come to your campus to eat your chicken wings. It means taking a bus to other schools on the weekends to do unmentionable things with aforementioned sports teams. It really isn’t normal.”

Soon after its publication, online commenters– many of them “alumni and students of women’s colleges who adamantly assert that no such incidents occur at their institutions”– unleashed a torrent of criticism.  They called the write-up a stereotype-affirming hit piece based solely on anecdotes, “ludicrous cliches,” and one student’s limited experiences.

They also attacked the headline.  While the article focuses solely on the student’s time at Bryn Mawr, the header references Wellesley College, another reputable women’s-only school.  Specifically, it reads, “Wesleyan v. Wellesley: “Rather Dead than Coed?”  As the writer later explained, rather inexplicably, “Wellesley is mentioned in the title of the article because the two schools [Wesleyan and Wellesley] are often confused with each other due to their similarity in nomenclature.”

In response to critics’ attacks, the Argus made the rare decision to remove the article entirely from its website, instead posting separate apologies from the editors and the writer.  As the editors’ statement notes, “We failed to uphold our duty to ensure that articles, op-eds or otherwise, do not unfairly target individuals or groups.  Many of the author’s assertions in this piece were unfounded, and we apologize to those who were hurt or offended by them.”

In a Chronicle of Higher Education post, Wesleyan professor Claire Potter agrees the paper’s top eds. erred enough to warrant a public mea culpa.  As she asks on her blog Tenured Radical, “[W]hy did the editors . . . publish it in the first place?  Editors, even student editors, are supposed to edit, which means telling writers when they are about to do something stupid, ill-informed and/or wrong.”

One Response to “Wesleyan Student Newspaper Pulls Controversial Piece About ‘Horrors of Single-Sex Education’”
  1. Alex says:

    I could not agree more