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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Even female-centered educational institutions harbor gender and racial biases

Jones explains the academic and social benefits of a single-sex education. Yet, even within an all-female environment, her college maintained traditional gender stereotypes. Also embedded in this passage is the student body's and alumni's reluctance to embrace racial change.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Julia Virginia Jones, October 6, 1997. Interview J-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

...We were not encouraged . . .There were no teams. There were no sports teams. We had to take P.E. to graduate, but you didn't play tennis or basketball or volleyball. This was in the era that they didn't think women sweated. It was ridiculous. So, really it was just going to classes and being in sorority, and the sorority did - we did do-good things. I know there was a child who lived near the college that needed people to come and do what they called "patterning" exercises. The child had brain damage, and they wanted people, every two hours to come and move their arms and legs. This was like a year old infant, and our sorority took that on because you could walk from Queens to this house, and we would make sure there was somebody there. That was one project we just kind of did, and there were other things like that. Now, Queens also was integrated when I went to Queens, and I was very active in encouraging integration at Queens and integration of the sororities. I was very disappointed in the fact that they did not integrate. One did, the other three did not, the year I was there. Again, I think we integrated either my junior or senior year, and that was a big issue that I was active in. Again, I was pretty disappointed in the way a lot of the alums and people acted about the sororities, but they eventually got integrated and that's what's important.
Queens at that time was a woman's college. You had said that you just knew you wanted to go to a woman's college. Why did you know that's what you wanted to do?
I wanted to do that because that is where the best professors were. If I couldn't go to Chapel Hill. The only other place I had thought about going to was Duke, and I gave it pretty serious consideration, but I really felt like that I needed the smaller school coming from a small town, and really the reason is because they had fabulous professors. For example, we had a major in Russian. Ted __________ taught Russian. You could take Russian literature. We had several women who graduated fluent in Russian. We had the Chemistry majors. We had several people go to med school. They really encouraged graduate school. You had to take the GRE to graduate. That was just part of your senior semester, whether you were going to graduate school or not. It was very academic, and that was why I wanted to go there.
You hear a lot today about women's colleges. The whole debate about they actually instill more confidence in women. Do you believe that?
At that point in time there was no question. I had leadership skills. As a result of being head of the Panhellenic council, I was on the President's Board and developed leadership skills that I never would have developed in 1966 through 1970 at a coed school. Now, I think that has changed. I think that women, just about anywhere, can hold their own, but I think certainly at that point in time the leadership skills would not have been as easily developed at a coed school.