Throwback Thursday: On rules for MC women

As time moves along, so does the context in which we live.  In 1968, the rules at Mississippi College were much different than the rules prescribed to students today.  One noticeable difference is the audience to whom the rules are aimed at.  In the late 1960s, MC held different expectations for the women and men students on campus.

This opinion editorial published in the Collegian explains the rules of MC women students and the complexity behind their purpose.  As a female student at MC in 2014, I am very grateful for the progression of the campus and its regulations.

– Jordyn Gunn


On Rules for MC Women – The Collegian – Oct. 4, 1968

It’s a man’s world, they say, and at Mississippi College the cliché is accurate, as any coed will quickly agree.  For instance, has an MC boy ever had to write a postcard to his parents telling them that he was coming home for the weekend and leave it for the Head Resident to mail?

Of course not, and yet dozens of cards and letters go out to girls’ parents each weekend.  Or has any freshman boy had his mother sign a social form giving him permission to spend the night with friends, attend out-of-town school functions, or water-ski?  No male would stand for it, yet women students at Mississippi College can and do stand for it.

The sacred text of the Dean of Women, the Womens’ Affairs Board, the Head Residents, and the House Council, although not always so reverenced by the majority of MC girls, is a small pink booklet called the Co-Ediquette.  Several days ago all women living in dormitories were given a test on their knowledge of its contents that, while somewhat easier than one of Mrs. Lipsey’s or Dr. Rainey’s sophomore lit tests, was also somewhat harder than an Introduction to Psychology or Personal Hygiene final.

An unfortunate girl who didn’t know whether to ask the Head Resident or the Dean of Women whether or not she might spend the night in another residence hall or couldn’t quite remember the second line of the third verse of the Alma Mater may find herself taking the test over until she does manage to remember that vital piece of information.

Even after a woman student has passed The Test, she may find that the rules listed in MC’s answer to the Manifesto are puzzling, complex, and, more often than not, simply ignored.

Here are two examples of rules that are commonly ignored, without noticeably altering the moral or social structure of MC: Girls must give a specific destination when signing out on the date register (though “Jackson” seems to be specific enough to suit most of us), and “It is expected that a girl should not engage in conversation out the windows of her residence hall.”  How else can a conversation that had to be interrupted at 9:30 on Wednesday night be continued, or how else can we thank the lovely boys who bring their guitars underneath our windows and sing to us after we are locked into our dorms by ever-faithful Campus Security?

There was another ignored rule last year that forbade girls to own irons or coffeepots.  Thankfully, that particular rule has been omitted from this year’s version of the Co-Ediquette.

Some of the more puzzling regulations include the following: “At no time should a girl leave the residence hall with her hair rolled up.” “To go to the College Lake across Highway 80, there must be a minimum of three people going.” “There will be no sunbathing on Sunday.” “Slacks may be worn (i.e., to the college lake) except on Sunday.” “Special permission must be secured from the Dean of Women to spend the night in the homes of Clinton residents.”  The overwhelming puzzle is simple “Why?”

Why does anyone feel it necessary to tell college students something that any fourteen-year-old should know, not to wear curlers in public?  Why should it be proper to sunbathe and wear slacks six days a week and become suddenly the weight of wickedness and immorality on Sunday?  Why should there be more difficulty in getting permission to spend the night in the home of a Clinton resident (who may well be a relative or roommate) than in spending the night anywhere else, except of course a boy’s home?

We may never know the answers to these questions, but then we, being apparently considered as children or idiots, don’t have to know the reasons for things.

It is strange that some of the rules seem to suggest our basic stupidity, since it takes a person of a great deal of intelligence to understand the complexities of a number of other regulations.

For instance, on Sunday nights an upperclassman must be in her dorm by 10:30 and on Wednesday by 9:30.  Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights she may stay until 10:00 on campus or 11:00 in Jackson.  Friday and Saturday nights she must be in at 11:00 if she was on the campus or 12:00 if she went to Jackson.  But don’t be surprised at the complexities: Before the rules were altered near the end of last year, a girl needed a chart to keep up with her specific regulations.  Even now, the Co-Ediquette lists seventeen (yes, we’re serious – seventeen) rules for freshman only, almost all of which deal with hours.

These examples were admittedly handpicked, and they are perhaps not representative of the majority of girls’ rules.  Certainly no one would suggest the advisability of doing away with rules altogether in any situation where so many people have to live together.  However, aren’t these rules, “passed for our own protection,” too often over-protective?  An eighteen- or twenty-two-year-old is not only able to take responsibility, but also should be expected and required to do so.

No matter how lenient or strict rules are, there will always be those who abuse them.  But should so many be denied both freedom and responsibility because of the few?  And shouldn’t learning responsibility and independence be a vital part of any educational situation?  The questions have been ignored and unanswered far too long.


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