I have the honour to present the first annual report of the Dean of Women of the Memorial University College.
When I first came to the College some fifteen years ago the personal problems of the women students made a special appeal to me, and I endeavoured, in a small way, to help them solve these problems whenever the opportunity arose. When you, Sir, a few years ago, saw fit to establish the office of Dean of Women I was gratified that you asked me to act in that capacity because I felt that the difficulties that confronted the students in their first year would repeat themselves in the years to come, and that my experience with former students enabled me to anticipate the types of problem about which I might be consulted.
The transition from school to college is necessarily difficult, particularly to the outport girl coming to St. John's for the first time from a small school and a rural community; and getting off to a good start is vitally important to the state of mind with which they approach their college career.
In the months previous to the opening of the College I have had the opportunity to interview many students and parents, and to learn something of the hopes and dreams of both parent and daughter. When the College opens this knowledge is very helpful, for the new student, having met the Dean of Women before, feels she already has one friend in the College, while in turn I feel that I already have something to work with in my attempts to steer the newcomer safely through the first frightening days of her new life.
Some students do not know a single other student when they enter the College; and here I may say how grateful I am to the second-year students who have cooperated with me so splendidly in taking new girls under their wing, and making them feel that they "belong" to the College family.
At the beginning of the College year an opportunity has been given me to meet all the women students, and on that occasion I have given them a brief synopsis of the student life and of their part in it. The College is a fellowship, and academic achievement alone does not make College life successful or happy. I have encouraged them to take an active part in the various cultural activities which are available, to associate with their fellow members, to make friends, and to be thoroughly happy. Each student is assigned a Student Adviser, whose duty is to advise him in matters relative to his course of studies. The office of the Dean of Women is not intended to infringe on that of Student Adviser, but to supplement it. I make it clear to students that I should welcome visits from them at any time, and that no problem was too trivial or too big for them to bring to me. The object was to impress on the women students that in the Dean of Women they would find a friend from whom they could be sure to receive understanding and sympathy, and in whom they could trust and confide.
This year there are ninety-five women students in the College and I can say that, at one time or another, I have become personally acquainted with all of them. Many of them have spent much time in my office discussing personal problems of various kinds: others I have had to seek out and gradually learn to know.
The work of the Dean of Women has taken much time, but I feel that the office is justified, for many of the students, who were shy or lonely at the beginning of the year, have assured me that their first year in the College has been happy and successful because they were made to feel so welcome in the first few days.
Nor is the work of the Dean of Women finished on Graduation Day. Graduates still need and seek help and advice with regard to their future course, and students looking forward to a second year in the College have problems of a different nature, many of which they bring to the office, or to the home, of the Dean of Women.
While the work of the Dean of Women is in the main with the women students in the College I have frequently had the privilege and opportunity of visiting students in their homes and of talking with their parents. Often during these visits I have been able to provide the parents with information about their daughters which otherwise they would be unable to obtain, and, in the light of that information to make helpful suggestions with regard to the parents' share in their daughter's life in the College when such suggestions were sought. Since the office of Dean of Women has been instituted the parents are showing an ever increasing tendency to make the Dean of Women the liaison officer between the home and the College, and daily I, as Dean of Women, am in communication with the parents of the women students through telephone or correspondence.
We in the College do all that is possible to help the students make happy and successful adjustment to College life, but I feel that so much more could be accomplished if the College had its own hostel where the students could live together and thereby receive a training which, added to the academic courses in the College, would make it possible for our students to receive a real college education, in the truest sense of the word. The students of the College generally, and the women students in particular, would benefit greatly from an increased Health Service and improved Common Room accommodation.
I should like to thank the women members of the Students' Representative Council who have co-operated with me so loyally during the past year. Through them I have been able to find out some of the worries that were upsetting some of the women students and tactfully seek them out and do something to help adjust them. I am grateful also to Miss Summers, and to the other women members of the Faculty who have brought to my attention students who needed help.
If in this capacity I have been of any service I feel amply repaid. I have made many friends among the students and look forward to the continuance and strengthening of the ties made while they were students of the Memorial University College.
MONNIE G. MANSFIELD,
Celebrate Memorial Home | History | The 40's | 1943 | Contents