Dear Esther

Dear Esther,

You have asked for our feedback, and we have tried to provide it through the feedback email and blog, phone calls, and town halls. However, whenever we have asked questions we are put off, demeaned, and completely disregarded. Perhaps this letter, and the series of letters to follow, will finally earn your attention and, more importantly, your answers.

You have asked for alumnae engagement far too late.

Sixty days of alumnae engagement in a decision to reverse 145 years of history is a travesty. If, as you claim, the university has been studying the issue of going co-ed since February 2013, there is absolutely no reason alumnae should have been kept in the dark this long. Indeed we’re still in the dark since you and the Board of Trustees have refused, at every turn, to provide detailed information about the process you outlined in a blog post on February 24th. We don’t know who served on those study committees, what information they reviewed or recommendations made and rejected. We don’t know those things because you have refused to tell us.

This lack of transparency is indicative of the administration’s willful disregard for the women’s college alumnae.

We admit that we’re not perfect. The real world – the one you prepared us for – too often got in our way whether it meant we moved away from our alma mater or didn’t contribute to the alumnae fund when those current students called. However, we have offered in numerous ways, according to our strengths, to serve Chatham from wherever we are. We want to attend college fairs. We want to reach out to recruits and “sell them” on a Chatham education. We want to host alumnae gatherings in our areas. And we have asked to do those things, time and time again. Yet, stories come from every direction of a resounding silence from the university when it comes to these requests.

We understand that there is a small staff in Alumni Affairs, and we are 11,000 alumnae strong, but this is precisely why alumnae must be effectively engaged. We MUST be allowed to help shoulder the load. We MUST be given a voice to promote, defend, and save Chatham. To do otherwise is nothing short of neglect.

A delay of the Board of Trustees vote.

Given the overt lack of alumnae engagement to this point, we believe the co-ed vote should be delayed by at least a year. During that time we ask you and the administration to provide us with the following:

  • A detailed account of the previous study. We ask for all relevant materials to be released publicly, to alumnae, current students, the press, and any interested members of the public.
  • A discussion of whether additional study by an objective entity is warranted, and how much that study would cost.
  • A plan to be drawn up, with alumnae involvement, for the active engagement of alumnae around the country including but not limited to student recruitment, participation in career services for current students, and fundraising.

You have asked for our feedback, Esther, but are you and the Board really listening? If so, you will take this letter to heart and act upon our requests.

The Save Chatham Movement


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5 responses to “Dear Esther”

  1. Hanna Wilford says :

    As a “not-quite-yet” alumna, I am paying close attention to how this situation is handled by the school and it’s administration. This will reflect on whether or not I want to continue being associated with an academic entity that still (or perhaps no longer) reflects my personal values and interests as a “world-ready woman”. I sincerely hope that the same grace and transparency that seems to be expected of us, as graduates of this institution and that we expect of others, can be shown by example by our institution itself as well as those who serve on its board and the staff.

  2. envirogirl says :

    We need to offer some solutions if we want this problem to be resolved. We can’t leave it all for the administration to figure out.

    • static24 says :

      I don’t think this letter is at all implying that the administration needs to come up with all the solutions. The alumnae and current students want to help solve this issue, but the administration has not been cooperative in sharing their materials or information with us, and they have given us a frankly appalling timeline to try and come up with solutions. Even if we have fantastic ideas, there is no time to implement anything to see if it will actually work; the board would be voting purely on the theoretical impact of whatever we present to them.

      As a current student, I think the way that the administration has been refusing to talk and share information openly and freely is indefensible. They are treating this situation not as though they are merely considering such a drastic course of action, but as though they have already decided on it and are simply required to offer students, alumnae, and faculty an input period, which the administration will promptly ignore. I cannot accept this. The requests made in this letter are perfectly reasonable, and I look forward to the administration’s response.

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