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A Not-So-Limited Engagement

The Committee for Kirkland College and Hamilton Students

In a little more than four weeks, the first official function of Kirkland alumnae and Hamilton women was planned and successfully executed. We encountered doubts along the way and were advised on more than one occasion to cancel. At the very end we were questioned, "Are you still going with only seven students?" We would have gone with just one! What credibility would the Kirkland community have if we just gave up? With "only" seven students we were able to reach each individual and connect. It's not about numbers, it is about connections.

Sunday morning seven female Hamilton students came to Emerson Hall at 9 am for the trip to the National Women's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. They trickled in, a bit unsure of what lay ahead. We (Cassandra & Wendy) introduced ourselves as Kirkland alumnae representing the Committee for Kirkland College, stating that this was the first step in Kirkland involvement with current students.

We had arranged for a limousine to take all of us - this mode of transportation facilitated interaction amongst the group. On the ride to and from Seneca Falls, we had a wonderful dialogue with these women. They wanted to know more about Kirkland. Why had we chosen Kirkland? We shared stories, dispelled urban myths and successfully imparted the passion and idealism that we alumnae know as Kirkland.

At the induction luncheon, our table of young vibrant women was warmly welcomed. US Congressman Michael Arcuri of New York's 24th District stopped by and spoke with the women of Hamilton College. The National Women's Hall of Fame President, Barbara DeBaptiste, just gushed over the "next generation". On Monday, Barbara DeBaptiste made a special stop on College Hill to have lunch with our group in the McEwen dining hall. Barbara implored us not to belittle our actions but to keep records for we were creating history. She reminded the Hamilton students that they were now members of the National Hall of Fame and could nominate women for membership in the Hall.

Had they applied to Kirkland, these students all would have received an envelope with YES. They are activists, involved with women's issues and social justice. They wish for more dialogue among current Hamilton students. There is nascent activism and they want more opportunities. These students want the Kirkland alumnae to participate in the Women's Energy Weekend in the spring. They suggested a "Kirkland Weekend".

On Monday, some of these students went to the college bookstore and bought Kirkland shirts and copies of Limited Engagement. They want the campus renamed "the Kirkland Campus". Amy, a sophomore, wished out loud, "I wish there was still Kirkland, I would have gone there".

They closed Kirkland College, but they haven't killed our legacy or spirit. On College Hill there is a now a group of women that wants our support, sisterhood and to be embraced. We envision welcoming them as members of the Kirkland Society. Society membership would be offered to Hamilton women who are involved with feminist and social issues. Our "little sisters" are busy drafting rules and regulations for membership. There is a secret handshake.

This trip was a success on every level. A report of the trip and Monday's campus visit were posted on the Hamilton College website within 48 hours, and the Kirkland Endowment publicly got credit for supporting and funding this excursion. Nancy Thompson, Dean of Students at Hamilton, thanked us and welcomed our participation.

At Kirkland's last graduation Sam said, "Now, if you believe in reincarnation, go from here and work and play in the world and see that a piece of Kirkland continues to live wherever you are."  I'm now a believer! Because of the Kirkland Endowment and our unwillingness to take "no" for an answer, Kirkland continues to live on College Hill.

It is now up to us to step into our vision of Kirkland's future on College Hill.

Submitted in the Spirit of the Sacred Feminine,
Cassandra Harris-Lockwood K'74
Wendy L. Morris K'77

[1] Samuel Fisher Babbitt, Limited Engagement Kirkland College 1965 – 1978: An Intimate History of the Rise and Fall of a Coordinate College for Women (Xlibris, 2006) 527.

Contact Information

Office of Alumni Relations

Anderson-Connell Alumni Center
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Mon.-Fri.: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (closed 12-1 p.m.)
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