The Office of Dean of Women was formally recognized in 1938; this is the sixth year that the position has been held.
From the middle of August until the opening of the College new students are applying for admission, and since the Office of Dean of Women is held by the Registrar, there is ample opportunity for the Dean of Women to see them and frequently their parents and get some idea of their hopes and ambitions. Very many of the women students from the outports are coming to St. John's for the first time; they know no other students, and it is a real privilege to make them feel that they have at least one friend to whom they can come immediately on their arrival. This preliminary interview is extremely helpful inasmuch as it gives the Dean of Women a little time to select some second year students to act as guides and friends in the first few weeks of the first semester. The co-operation of second year students is freely and graciously given and is much appreciated by me.
Many of the girls come for the first time into a co-educational institution and, in this difficult age, this requires delicate adjustment. We try, in the College, to treat students, as far as possible, as adults, to help them to appreciate but not abuse their new sense of freedom. It has been my experience that, if a student finds her feet during the first semester, she is well started on her college career. Even though the results of her first semester's examination may not be quite what we desire, yet she has accomplished a good deal if she has adjusted herself to a new environment. For this reason, even though the work of the Dean of Women frequently interferes with the work of the Registrar's Office, the time given to it is well worth while .
This year there are 94 women students registered, During the first week of the first semester the Dean of Women addressed the women students and gave them an outline of what college life meant to them, pointing out that they were in a period of transition from adolescence to womanhood, that they had left behind them in High School constant supervision, and were beginning to stand on their own feet. She outlined the Student Advisor System which had been in use for some time, but pointed out that women students were urged to consult her on any matters on which they needed advice. She gave a brief outline of the Societies which the S.R.C. sponsored and urged them to join one or two of them, stressing the fact that extra-curricular activities are an important part of college life. Getting to know one's fellow students added greatly to the developing of personality, and to the happiness of life.
As a result of this brief talk women students kept coming to see me. During the first semester, every one of the women students called on me, at least once, but most of them frequently. It has been my custom to keep the atmosphere of my office as non-academic as possible. Since I am not a member of the teaching staff, students seem to feel that they can be more natural with me. No matter how small a problem is nor how big, I have tried to make the girls feel that it is a good thing to discuss it with me, and since my experience extends over a period of years, it would be easier for me to suggest a solution than for them to grope their way unaided. This year, more than ever before, since the registration in the teacher-training department is not so large, I have been in close touch with that department. There are 32 women students in the Teacher Training Department. I have seen them all at least once, most of them many times. They are a fine group, inclined to be a little shyer than most of the academic students, but most appreciative of offers of friendship. In the course of my interviews with them I discovered some who, for example, were keenly interested in music but who had never had an opportunity of getting any instruction. Through the kind offices of a friend I was able to arrange for them to begin taking lessons in pianoforte at a rate which would not tax them too much. Then there were others who felt that they would like to do some dramatics but were rather diffident about coming forward, a word in the ear of the Secretary of the Dramatic Society and this was adjusted.
This year, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of Miss Fitzpatrick and Mr. Hanley, students of all faculties are playing games and getting to know each other better than for some years past. Mr. Hanley and I talked this matter over in the beginning of the term and we are both extremely gratified at the progress that is being made, not only in athletics, but also in breaking down barriers which often exist between one part of the student body and another. Teams were made up from different faculties of the College and this has done a great deal in bringing the women teachers-in-training in touch with the other women students. It is my earnest hope that this programme can be continued and enlarged in future years.
As one of the liaison officers between the Faculty and the Student body I am in close touch with the S.R.C. They come to me for all kinds of advice -- how to arrange social events, what to do in cases of laxity in discipline in the common room and elsewhere, how best to handle their finances, what to do about the boys overseas, how to write official and semi-official letters -- and so on. This all takes more time than I should perhaps give it, but it is, in my opinion, well worth while since the S.R.C. of today are the citizens of tomorrow.
The need for a joint common room has always been apparent to me. As you are aware there is in the College a women's common room and a men's common room, which are separate and distinct units. In effect this means that there is with the exception of occasional "socials", no place where the women and men students can meet for friendly intercourse. The setting aside of certain afternoons when the women students can be "at home" to the men students has come up for discussion recently and I am hoping that this can be done. It will, of course, if it comes into effect, be properly arranged and will teach the girls how to act as hostesses and also give students belonging to the different faculties an opportunity to become better acquainted with their fellow-members of the College.
This semester women students have been invited to see me to talk about their plans for next year. Already I have seen quite a few of them and I hope to see them all before the end of the semester.
Parents of students are appreciative of the personal interest taken in their daughters and many letters come to me to this effect. For example, I quote an excerpt from one recently received:
The Dean of Women is very grateful to the President for his constant encouragement and understanding without which this work could make little or no progress.
The Registrar's duties as I see them are to collect fees, order and dispense equipment, attend to correspondence, organize and manage the office, arrange examinations and see to their conduct, keep college records, and arrange medical and X-ray examinations for students. But as Dean of Women, the moral, physical, and social welfare of every woman student in the College is my immediate concern. The teen age period is necessarily a difficult one for every girl. As Dean of Women it is my privilege to help them attain the adjustments necessary for an integrated personality so that when they leave the College they may have been helped to blossom forth into worthwhile womanhood.
MONNIE G. MANSFIELD,
Celebrate Memorial Home | History | The 40's | 1944 | Contents