Room One

A Class of Their Own

Women students could forge social ties through clubs tied to their academic interests—such as the XYZ Club for those in higher mathematics, the Chemistry Fiends (later to become Alchemia and then the honor society, Iota Sigma Pi), and the Art History Circle (later Delta Epsilon).

Women gained leadership skills within their established honor societies, including Prytanean (the nationís first honor society for women) and Torch and Shield. Debate and parliamentary societies also offered women opportunities to learn how to preside over or participate in meetings.

Insignias
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Torch and Shield insignia
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Delta Epsilon insignia
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Alchemia insignia
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Prytanean insignia
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In 1910, the Associated Women Students (AWS) petitioned the faculty for permission to establish the Women's Student Affairs Committee. Until then, disciplinary cases for women had been heard by the dean of women or the faculty. This new committee would allow undergraduate women students themselves to decide the fates of their female peers. With hearty approval from the Faculty Students' Affairs Committee and President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, the committee began work during the fall. AWS president Rose Gardner, Class of 1911, served as its first chair.

Early on, committee members voted to adopt rules and suggestions to distribute to women students as conduct guidelines. Some of the rules included opposition to cheating on exams and mixed boarding houses (female and male borders living in the same residence). A sampling of their suggestions called for every woman going out in the evening to leave word of her destination and to return by 10:00 p.m., all visitors to leave by 10:30, and women student organizations to avoid hosting entertainment events on weeknights. The committee reviewed violations of these types of regulations and a wide array of others, including suspected library book theft, gameticket scalping, publishing of content considered inappropriate, and "conspicuous dress."

Student affairs committee
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Excerpt from the record book of the Women's Student Affairs Committee (names redacted)
CU-567

In 1911, the San Francisco Call reported that in the past three and a half years, more women students on campus than men had been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. How? Educators, the article said, claimed that men were participating in "[t]oo many outside activities—rallies, football, baseball, and the like."

Women students seated at a tea table
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Women students seated at a tea table in the East Hall women's lounge, circa 1900
UARC PIC 10T:6

By 1915, ten women students (with one refusal by the 1895 winner) had been awarded the University Medal, given annually since 1871 at the Berkeley commencement to the year's distinguished graduating senior; another had earned honorable mention. Clotilde Grunsky, a senior student in the College of Social Sciences, received it in 1914. Seven women students served as commencement speakers between 1910 and 1915.

University Medal Ceremony
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President Benjamin Ide Wheeler presenting the University Medal to Clotilde Grunsky, Commencement, 1914
UARC PIC 04:1029

Kate Bigelow
Class of 1911

Before the builded castle of her dreams ...
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Blue and Gold, 1911
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Kate Bigelow's class record
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Kate Bigelow's class record
CU-299 no.21
Before the builded castle of her dreams ...
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Letter from Harold L. Leupp, Assistant University Librarian, to Kate Bigelow, January 9, 1912
CU-299 no.21

Happenings of the Year
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Happenings of the Year
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Before the builded castle of her dreams ...
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Before the builded castle of her dreams ...
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