January 11, 1868
The students presented a petition to the faculty asking for permission to organize a "Student Association," something they, the trustees and the faculty hadn't anticipated when the college opened. Speaking in Cleveland to the annual meeting of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College (AAVC) in 1914, Maria Dickinson McGraw '67, one of the four first graduates of the college, recalled unintentionally raising the question with President John Raymond a year and a half earlier, at the end of her first year at Vassar, when some money was left after the first Founder's Day.
"In settling up accounts the balance was on the right side and to be disposed of. It was suggested that we buy a flag, as the college had none. The recently closed war had made us acquainted with the Stars and Stripes, accustomed us to its sight, and not at ease without it. We decided to ask for a students' meeting to consider the matter. Some individuals of the Faculty thought we should give the money for some cause in New York for which there had been soliciting at the college. Permission was given for the meeting; and after prayers on a Saturday morning President Raymond turned to me and said, 'Now, Miss Dickinson, for your meeting!' I said the request was for a meeting of the students' association. (I had lately learned the phrase and not its technical meaning.) The President looked alarmed and said rather severely, 'I know of no such organization.' I explained that I simply meant a meeting of the students themselves, without the Faculty. He looked puzzled—such a thing had never been thought of—hesitated a moment, then, with a bit of a smile, looked up and said, 'The Faculty are devited.' Miss Mitchell and Professor Tenney rose at once and left the chapel. the others followed slowly, looking very doubtful. When the chapel door closed upon them, Dr. Raymond said cheerfully, 'Now, Miss Dickinson, you will need a chairman.' I replied, 'Yes, President Raymond, we will choose one as soon as you have gone.' Our good President's face was a study: he said nothing; gathered up his notes and 'other spectacles,' and slowly walked the length of the chapel amid the densest silence, while the awed students sat with bated breath."
The association’s constitution was approved February 3rd. Informal meetings had been held previously. The Vassar Miscellany