September 7, 1979
In an article in The New York Times, “Whatever Happened to Vassar?” Pulitzer Prize journalist Lucinda Franks ’68 considered the changes wrought on the college by the past decade from the viewpoint of an alumna returning as professor. Recalling her class’s restlessness—“Brush fires of war resistance were crackling on campuses across the country…. While Columbia burned, we continued to read Roethke over demitasse in the Rose Parlor”—she reflected on the quirky outcome of the “revolution,” disclosed in “my old dorm, Cushing, a Tudor manor house,” where “at the piano where we used to sing madrigals of an evening was a near-naked fellow whose Adam’s apple moved up and down in time with his sledgehammer hands as he pounded away at the keys.”
As she met her classes, wondering “who would be learning more from whom in this New Vassar”, she was struck by the urgent openness of the new coeducation—“late 60s alumnae…would have faced expulsion had they harbored a man in their rooms” but now “Vassar men and women were living right next door to one another, mixing up toothbrushes, scribbling invitations to stop by and make love.
“Self-reliance, self-discipline, self-motivation,” she concluded, “is what characterizes the students I teach. They are complicated mixtures of cynicism and eagerness who listen to their own voices, who refuse to follow anyone else’s call to the wild…. You won’t find an upsurge of mass protest. You won’t find a hundred people chanting one slogan. But you just might find one person chanting a hundred slogans.”