Dear Esther – The Final Letter

To Chatham University, Dr. Barazzone, and the Board of Trustees:

Today you have made the momentous decision that we said was in front of you. Today you ignored 2000+ alumnae, friends, family, and women’s college supporters and chose to end 145 years of history.

As we stated in the Board Book we submitted to you, the Save Chatham movement was prepared to help out the College for Women in any way possible, if you voted to sustain her. Since you have not, we remind you now of the commitment we made to you in the same document, if the undergraduate college went coed.

“If, however, the Board of Trustees votes on May 1 or any time before June 2015, to make the undergraduate college co-educational, the Save Chatham network will no longer be available to the University for any promotion of University programs, recruitment efforts, or fundraising campaigns. Instead, the Save Chatham movement will be used to examine ways in which the alienated Chatham alumnae can contribute to the recruitment and sustainability efforts of the other women’s colleges committed to maintaining single-sex education and providing the same benefits to which Chatham has heretofore been dedicated.

Just to be clear: we will not be sad for a while and then get over it, as Dr. Barazzone has said, and we will take our seed corn elsewhere.”

We regret that it has come to this. We are appalled that you would turn generations of history over in just over two months and under three hours of discussion today. However, choices have to be made. You have made yours, and now we make ours.

Goodbye our dear alma mater.


Save Chatham Management


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12 responses to “Dear Esther – The Final Letter”

  1. Penelope Parsons '75 says :

    Devastated and horrified. What a disappointment Barazzone is. Goodbye to the memories, goodbye to the historic standing, goodbye to providing the dream of the founders.

  2. Michele 02 says :

    will now be giving my seed corn to Wabash…

    • Ann White says :

      My husband went to Wabash. I met him when the Chatham Choir sang with the Wabash Glee Club. Fortunately, Wabash is still committed to same-sex education, although they really DO need to go co-ed. One of my closest friends went to Bryn Mawr. I’ll be giving to Wabash and Bryn Mawr in the future.

  3. Student says :

    So, current student here. I find you admin, and this page here deplorable. When i found out we were probably going to go co-ed, i had some time to reflect. I sat down and thought about all the things i could and could not reconcile my university becoming, and let me tell you, you lot are making it the worst of my fears.
    A group that tries to march onto campus on the first day of finals without a protest permit (rude and illegal) a group that constantly belittles me and my classmates with talk about how we are too mindless to understand if Esther is manipulating us, a group that gives all their consideration to nostalgia and none of it to the current students.
    Whilst you were staging your “Protest” or as I like to refer to it, your collective inconsequential hissy fit, I was in a classroom in Braun Falk Coolidge trying to learn from a professor I respect and admire, and instead I was treated to your shouting!
    I urge you all to stop and think about the impact you are having on current students, who are more and more frequently having to ask themselves, “is this what Chatham women turn into? Will I too one day become so militant in my nostalgia that I haggard on blindly whilst shouting slogans like ‘better dead than co-ed’?” And for the record, lets talk about better dead than co-ed, a slogan which in a swift 4 word package seeks to undermine so deeply my right as a student to my education.

    • savechatham says :

      We are glad that you will be happy with a co-ed Chatham. The administration asked us to be part of the “discussion” process and we responded to that call. We hope someday you will feel passionate enough about something with your whole heart to defend it they way so many alumnae have defended the Chatham they knew and loved.

    • Nicole Hagan says :

      Dear Student,

      First and foremost, I apologize that the actions of the alumnae and current students on campus today distracted from your learning. That was not the intention of the protest. Rather, if you’ve been following the Save Chatham movement for the past 72 days, the intention was to preserve the very thing that made Chatham alumnae the women who were unafraid to stand up to opposition in the first place.

      Someday in the near future you will be an alumna of Chatham and you will be out in the real world and you will see what your fellow alumnae are fighting for. The bubble you live in at Chatham does not exist in the real world, and the opportunity to become a strong willed and proud woman will be lost now that Chatham has gone coed. The “real world” is not equal. For any woman. Ever. You will earn less, even if you work more. You will be smiled at and frowned upon because of your “emotions” – which is what your opinion is called in the real world. You will look back one day and regret posting this, because the very women that were throwing a “collective inconsequential hissy fit” as you call it were actually fighting for YOU, your fellow students, and every female yet to step foot on that campus.

      I am a PhD in the sciences. A highly regarded field, and I have degrees from two of the most prestigious coed institutions in the country. And I am faced every day with the “old boys club.” A place where my opinion is valued less than that of a man’s – not because it’s less meaningful or fact-based, but simply because I am a woman. I don’t know your field of studies, but you will find the same in your field. I guarantee it. If you need proof, ask a male coworker at your first job what he earns and compare it to what you earn when you work longer hours and are more dedicated to your career. Then you will understand.

      Perhaps alumnae, myself included, have asked “why aren’t current students standing up?” And the reason for that is not out of disrespect to any current student, but out of knowledge that not a single current student during our time would just roll over and take Esther at her word. Have you seen the supporting evidence that men will enroll at Chatham and save the financial situation? If so, I beg you to share it. Have you thought of the implications of transitioning from an all women to coed environment, ranging from leadership positions, to voices in the classroom, to sexual assault on campus? If you haven’t it’s because you are at Chatham, a place where you feel safe. Had you gone to a coed institution, I guarantee you wouldn’t feel as “safe” with men taking over ever aspect of your freedom to find yourself.

      I hope that by the time you join alumnae you see the light. What we have been fighting to preserve the past 72 days goes so much beyond you and your one class that was disrupted. It represents 145 years of history, and decades of women’s inequality to come.

      However, despite you basically calling alumnae crazy and my vehement disagreeing with your position, I am going to offer you an olive branch. I will help you find an internship, a job, or a mentor – should you choose to reach out to the alumnae network that you should cherish. After all, you will soon be one. And you will soon see the inequalities that continue to exist for women long after you leave the Chatham bubble.

      Yours forever in purple and white,
      Nicole Hagan
      Class of 2007

    • Undergrad Graduate '03 says :

      Wow, even in replies to you, a current student, your opinion is ignored and/or dismissed. Please believe me when I tell you, not all of us alumnae are militant in our nostalgia. We are not all crazy, nor are we all condescending. Do I cherish my memories from Chatham, of course I do! But I am also realistic. Chatham offers a great education, I don’t see that changing just because it’ll now be co-ed. I hope you continue at Chatham, but after seeing the responses you’ve gotten so far, I’d understand if you leave. After graduation, I wouldn’t want to think I’d turn into ‘that’ either. Good luck from an alumna that supports YOU.

      • Sheila Confer '94 says :

        Are you responding to the respectful and well reasoned response from Nicole who, while disagreeing with the OP, offered to help her find an internship? Is that your definition of condescending? It is very interesting to me how the alumnae who are passionate about preserving a women’s only education at Chatham are being characterized as overly emotional (AKA nostalgic) shrews. Gosh, where else in our society does that happen? I am sorry you are unable to support your fellow sisters in the same way we have tried and will continue to try to support you. I am sorry you believe that expressing an opinion that is different from yours or simply not trusting everything that comes from the mouths of the administration means we are unreasonable (translation: emotional women) who are in some way working against you. I can respect your position and opinion while still telling you I think you are wrong and naive and may perhaps one day see things differently. And maybe you won’t. But I will never,ever, ever dismiss you or insult you for having those opinions. This is something my Chatham education taught me. I wish all of the current students the best in spite of the horrendous and misguided decision that was just made by their president and board.

    • coug for life says :

      Maybe one day if there is anything or any cause you care enough about, you will understand what it is to stand up for your beliefs and question critically what others tell you.

  4. Annette Calgaro says :

    Dear Current Student. Thank you for your post. You certainly sound like a Chatham student – not afraid to speak her mind in face of public disapproval and personal attacks and willingness to thoughtfully accept change. I don’t think we have to worry about a male student intimidating you. Rather your strength and smarts will help them learn to work with or for women in their careers. Good luck with your finals and enjoy your summer

    • Liana, Class of 1999 says :

      Hi Annette, You are a Board of Trustee, correct? It’s been quite interesting observing your behavior over the past couple of months. It was your voice that was captured via a microphone during the live feed of a town hall (while alumnae sang their alma mater), saying “I don’t know the words. I was apathetic.” You have also been quite active on all of the social media channels, antagonizing people in very rudimentary and base ways. Thank you for demonstrating your true colors for an entire social media network to see.

  5. Lynn Wakefield says :

    I loved Chatham. I loved it because I had to fight my own mother when she said that I couldn’t be a doctor but I could be a nurse, just because i was a woman. I loved it because it was the only place that made me prove that I could be anything at all. I couldn’t bat my eyes, play dumb and get away with it. I was held to a higher standard. I was surrounded by smart women who demanded more from me. I fought for a very long time to attend. It was my dream. Now, I have been rudely awoken. That dream is gone forever, there will never again be this place that was so rare and special. I wish that i could even be surprised that a hand – picked group of white men were ignorant of what their actions truly mean. Forgive them for they know not what they do.

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