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Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / They came to learn, they came to teach, they came to stay

Langill, Ellen D.
Chapter 2: Women at Wisconsin: 1909-1939,   pp. 11-30

Page 13

ward (1907-1911), strengthened the tradition of women's self-government on
the campus by opening WSGA offices in Lathrop Hall and establishing the
Women's Court to adjudicate disciplinary matters. In addition, the dean of
women supervised residence hall "mistresses," approved off-campus
and served as academic and personal counselor for all women students.
Between 1911 and 1918, Dean Lois Kimball Mathews worked ex-
tensively with vocational guidance and began the co-op housing movement,
which allowed women to save room and board costs by working together in
communal houses. Mathews published a book in 1915, The Dean of Women,
based on her experiences at Madison; the first guidebook of its kind, the
was widely used on campuses across the country. In addition, she persuaded
the university to create the office of dean of men, instead of assuming that
dean of the college would automatically serve the university men.'0
By the 1914-15 school year, Mathews reported that the housing situation
had been improved with the addition of the co-op houses. Of the 1424 under-
graduate women who boarded in Madison, 152 lived in Chadbourne Hall,
116 in Barnard Hall (a newer women's dorm), 172 in sorority houses, 492 in
lodging houses and 725 with relatives or friends.1' However, Mathews was
disturbed by the splintered housing situation which prevented cohesion
among women students. She argued for more women's dormitories open to
out-of-state girls since the "Wisconsin-only" policy of Chadbourne
and Bar-
nard kept in-state students isolated from "the more cosmopolitan friendships
of out-of-state and foreign girls."'12
To help alleviate this splintering and to unite women students, Mathews
allocated many duties to the WSGA which operated as a council composed of
two elected representatives from each women's housing unit on campus. The
council voted on policies governing women students, subject to faculty veto,
and planned "mixer" activities to bring women students together.
clearly stated its purpose in a 1915-16 student handbook: "to further,
in ev-
ery way, the spirit of unity of the women of the university."'13 The
purview of
the WSGA included rules regarding hours, social codes such as behavior in
Lathrop's parlors, and all other aspects of conduct - except academic prob-
lems and honor codes.
Each housing unit could draw up its own rules, regarding use of its parlor,
quiet hours, and lights out, but all were required to forbid male visitation
rooms, smoking, drinking, and gambling.'4 Each house had a committee to
enforce these rules with the help of the house mistress, an older woman or
graduate student. No coeducational parties were permitted except on Friday
and Saturday evenings and all had to be well-chaperoned by persons on an
"approved list." Women had to keep 10:30 hours on weeknights and
on weekends; parties had to end at midnight. Women were forbidden to leave
town without the written permission of their parents, except for school vaca-
tions and holidays.'5 Thus female students were protected by a strong univer-
sity tradition of in Ioco parentis; that it was a well-accepted tradition
is at-
tested to by the role of the WSGA in the formulation and enforcement of
these rules.
The Women's Judiciary Committee met to try offenders and mete out
punishments (also subject to overruling by the dean of women). In addition,
the dean of women met with a council of all women's clubs on campus.
Representatives from the Pan-Hellenic Association, the literary and dramatic

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