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Kirkland Generation Survey


Selected Survey Responses

Hamilton alumni: to what extent did the presence of a women's college and Kirkland in particular affect your decision to attend Hamilton? Kirkland alumnae: Same question applied to Hamilton.
 

I was a Dance major and pre-med. I needed both sides of the street desperately!
K75

I looked at Hamilton/Kirkland as essentially being a co-educational institution.  I would not have applied to Hamilton if Kirkland was not part of the package. H79

When I first visited my brother (H73) I was struck by the uniqueness of the dual campus and the student bodies. I still am in awe of the extraordinary opportunities presented to me on the hill ~ the home of co-ordinate institutions. K78

My freshman year, Kirkland was just a construction site and Hamilton was beset with all the worst aspects derived from 800 young men thrown together in what was for most of the year a frozen waste. There was a clear devolution in most of my fellow students which the fraternities exacerbated. The Kirkland women made a world of positive difference and made even the up-state New York winters bearable for 3 more years. H71

I was most interested in Kirkland's educational philosophy and the idea of going to an experimental college.  But I don't think I would have gone to a college for women in the middle of nowhere if there hadn't been men across the road. K75

I would not have gone to a single sex school.  (But) had I thought it through I probably would have gone to a coed school where the men as well as the women were drawn to an innovative non-traditional learning environment.  K75

Hamilton did not inspire me at all.  The chance to be part of creating a college from scratch inspired me.  I was also inspired by meeting Dean Nelbach and Sam Babbitt at my college interview. Their energy and passion and their sense of adventure immediately spoke to me. K72

Given the ultra-liberal approach that Kirkland took, it was a negative that Hamilton's many other positives outweighed. H79

It had little effect on my decision to attend Hamilton, but certainly weighed heavily on my decision to stay there. H71

I would not have attended Hamilton otherwise.  H71

Hamilton played no role in my decision.  I went to a branch office of a NYC organization dedicated to helping Hispanic high school students get into college.  They were too busy to help me but on the way out a secretary said,  "Some lady was here from a new school in New York and left those little green books.  Those over there with an apple on them."  Imagine that.  K75

The Kirkland catalog statement that education is an exchange between a more experienced learner and a less experienced learner which was the clincher for me.  K72

To what extent did the Kirkland-Hamilton "marriage" work for you (or not): academically socially and logistically?  In your experience did Kirkland's innovative educational philosophy complement or conflict with Hamilton's
 (or both)?

I loved the innovative side, small classes, seminar type instruction and the written evaluations as a form of final assessment...socially it was tough back then. I finally landed in ELS. K75

Kirkland's educational philosophy was completely the opposite of Hamilton's, creating a train wreck that led to a radical reduction in Hamilton's required distribution courses. (anonymous)

From the evaluations vs grades to Commons vs the Rock, the two institutions complemented each other in a way that would be hard to replicate. I rarely saw a conflict. K78

It worked more for me after I graduated as I married a member of the Kirkland Class of 1978.  I was glad to have women on the Hill although for a number of reasons I did not develop many friendships with Kirkland women. There was a lot of tension between the two faculties and this spilled over to the students. Some of the tension was creative, most of it was not.  H74   

On balance, I felt the Kirkland - Hamilton marriage was dysfunctional and that Kirkland's educational philosophy conflicted with Hamilton's. In retrospect, trying to meld two very different educational philosophies and student bodies was doomed from the start.  H74

Surprisingly, it worked.  I really liked the contrast in styles: visual,  academic (grades  or evaluations),  and social  (greek versus feminist) K75

Kirkland didn't seem particularly innovative compared to Hamilton, both provided high-quality teaching. As a freshman I wouldn't have known an innovation from an outovation. I thought the relationship worked well. Logistics were not a problem.  H74

It was the best of both worlds.  I got the daily rigor of Hamilton classes, grades and tests (and the default position that Kirkland women were not up to the material, which we greatly disproved!), as well as the strong relationships with Kirkland faculty and their fluid assessment of my abilities and work product through evaluations. K78

The schools were a horrible mismatch.  Most of the Kirkland students were attracted by the progressive,: no grades, open attitude.  Hamilton was still a conservative school preaching a traditional liberal arts education.  The faculties were also a mismatch.  I remember my advisor trying to discourage me from taking Kirkland classes, even if I was interested in the subject and course were not offered at Hamilton Anonymous

Hamilton's anthropology faculty had not been consulted at all in the hiring of Kirkland's anthropology faculty and there was mutual antagonism based on personalities and theoretical differences.  I like to think that the students on both sides of the hill helped the grownups to overcome these differences and I think in the end everyone benefitted from the differences in approach, training and specialty.  Both departments produced some outstanding anthropologists. K72

I'm not sure that it did work for me. Although I took Hamilton classes I enjoyed and got a lot out of,  I much preferred the less structured Kirkland classes.  Socially I did find some good men friends but they were men who preferred spending their time at Kirkland. I definitely didn't like the Greek scene and the macho misogynist mentality that tended to go with it. K75

I became part of the first coed class at Hamilton.  I had a lot of resentment and as a result did not visit the college until just recently.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much of Kirkland survived.  My daughter is now seriously considering Hamilton for college - something I never would have imagined 20 years ago. K79

Didn't work for me.  Would have preferred a co-ed Hamilton that drew women who were interested in attending Hamilton.  The innovative educational philosophy didn't work.  Need grades, need exams, it's cCollege after all.  Hamilton should have simply gone co-ed and added a few additional courses as needed.  Not add a radically opposite women's college.  H79

I was in the first class at Kirkland and many academic issues were in process, resulting in a degree of lurching about and mid-semester modifications of the original innovations. I rather envied the Hamiltonians as I heard them speak about exams and grades.  Those were things I understood from high school. The demands of a new type of educational program were confusing. I only appreciated the Kirkland program later when I transferred to a large traditional university.  The system seemed shallow compared to Kirkland. K72

Vestiges of the Kirkland philosophy are now in educational vogue, and evident at today's Hamilton, to the benefit of many. H79

The marriage worked very well for me.  I was always involved on both campuses and with both styles of education.  My freshman year, I lived in the Co-op, so I lived with Hamilton students. I sang in the H-K Choir, took Calculus (self-paced - very innovative way to teach it), Chemistry and French at Hamilton.  I loved my Kirkland classes - the small seminar format, the ready access to professors, the lengthy evaluations rather than letter grades.  I was proud of my unusual, feminist school but enjoyed having the more traditional Hamilton experience available, too. K78

As soon as Kirkland opened I was there.  Kirkland courses were a breath of fresh air from the somewhat restrictive curriculum required at Hamilton and the teachers seemed more open minded in the new academic paradigm.  Taking courses and eating at Kirkland made social contact easier. The young women were pioneers and it was the 60s after all. I did not have to roll anymore to distant colleges with frat brothers and beer. I found a new exciting society across the road. H71

I got to say, maybe under the influence of a beer or two, that Kirkland College was one of the most profound and influential experiences of my life.  Kirkland's educational philosophy both complemented and conflicted with Hamilton's. Kirkland's feminist philosophy, and its egalitarian philosophy, however, very much conflicted with Hamilton's establishment traditions & assumptions. Hamilton had no idea who it was until Kirkland held up the mirror so Hamilton could see itself.  At that point Hamilton disassociated and reconstituted itself.  Some Hamiltonians liked what they saw in the Kirkland mirror, and others hated it.  Some, like me, felt affection for the old, doomed Hamilton, but nothing but excitement for the new Hamilton-Kirkland. H74

It didn't work as well as it should have.  I don't know that it was the conflict with Hamilton so much as that the innovations were a bit chaotic and didn't have enough time to settle into a clear mission.  Socially it was an especially difficult marriage  In the classroom the males were condescending.  There also seemed to be a class gap to an extent, as well as a political one. K75

I fully enjoyed the different teaching styles; perspectives and variety of approach to topics that was available to us in the marriage of the two schools. Unfortunately it was not a marriage; but a parent/child relationship between the schools. There was never equality there; or the fuller respect for the reciprocal College we are approaching in discussion about Kirkland now. K79

I loved it! The arrangement gave me lots of options and I took full advantage of them: my courses were 50/50, I found a variety of jobs on both campuses, had good relationships with professors on both campuses.  But I found Kirkland to be a unique place and much preferred living and socializing there.  Almost all of my friends were on the Kirkland side. K78

The type of student that each school attracted put us slightly at odds with each other socially and academically, but it worked for me. I met and became friends with people that I never expected to and it expanded my world. Isn't that a big part of the educational experience? K75

I recall some grumbling by Hamiltonians that Kirkland was more fluff than academic rigor, although my experience of coursework at Kirkland was very much the opposite. K72

In some ways the non-traditional grading system at Kirkland did NOT work for me - the evaluation of my work was not always good, and the lack of grades made my standing less clear to me. K75

I made it a point to take at least one Kirkland class a semester.  There were many classes of interest to me at the time.  Without Kirkland I'd not have taken Psychology 101 (which I aced), Creative Writing with Professor Rosenfeld (one of my hardest courses ever), or ceramics (which I almost failed!).  In addition, I regularly took supper at the Kirkland dining hall because it was a pleasant change of atmosphere from the Commons.  Also, there was the red lounge and the hanging rock.  These are features which Hamilton just didn't have.  H79

In retrospect, the emphasis that Kirkland placed on one's individual approach to learning colored the social climate in ways that were difficult for me.  I think I would have had an easier time at a school that encouraged a bit more focus on group cohesion.  Kirkland was too each woman for herself for my needs.  I found it easier to form friendships at Hamilton.  I came from a social environment in which I had very strong friendships with women. K75

I feel that the initial academic philosophy of Kirkland conflicted greatly with that of Hamilton. It was diametrically opposed and lacked any discipline or structure. H71

Academically; it worked fine. As a creative writing/lit major I had fantastic professors from both sides. Socially; the first year was the worst.   I initially hated House Party Weekend; then learned that one could dip into various parties at will.  And the Pub was also neutral ground. As was Fanguitos, that amazing spring Bacchanal. K73

During the early years of Kirkland the two colleges worked as one. H71

There was the perception by the first class of Hamilton women that they were superior to the Kirkland women as they had passed the more rigorous (in their minds) Hamilton admission standards.  It made for an ugly first year and I recall nasty letters to the editor in the school press. K79

I felt that the faculty in general supported each other.  I was summoned to the office of the Hamilton president however when I wrote a paper called Why Hamilton College is Sexist.  That was an interesting moment. K75

I made a point of taking one Hamilton course each semester.  I wanted to stay in touch with the structure of formal exams and a grade at the end of the course.  I felt that the rest of the world worked that way and I wanted to be sure I never completely forgot how to deal with it. K75

It worked for me just about as well as my real life marriage: very volatile with lots of ups and downs, fights and making up in the early years.  But hey; I'm still married to the same guy.  K72

I had many friends on both campuses and was lucky enough to inhabit both worlds. There were Hamilton students of the era (mostly in a few of the fraternities) for whom Kirkland did not exist - no classes and a mentality of continued road trips to other area womens colleges. There were also a number of Kirkland students (often in the arts; as I recollect) who were similarly estranged from Hamilton.  For me, Hamilton and Kirkland were one colllege, one campus.  H74

When you think of Kirkland what images come to mind?  People? Scenes? Classes?  Events?


Green construction helmets
The pendulum and the swing
Great people, ugly buildings
Waffle ceilings, big bolsters in glaring green and red
Snow, piles and piles of it
The Jitney crossing the quad
Olive, affectionately known as the campus tramp
Sam Babbitt with a horse dressed as a unicorn
A bagpipe march I instigated, though I was not the piper, one autumn night. Kirkland girls responded stirringly with a bagpipe-led countermarch.
Women in flannel shirts, jeans and hiking boots
Cross country skiing in Root Glen
The womb room
Snow, mud and concrete
Betty Bouch

The Unisex Festival in List, romping in in the dance studio with newspaper confetti K73

The open architecture. The open attitudes.  H79

A term project for Southeast Asian ethnography that I did with my suitemate (to avoid doing a paper; I'll admit) was to prepare a Malaysian dinner for the class; to which the men all wore sarongs. K75

Mud puddles; construction; Sam Babbitt; all campus meetings; many of my fellow students; Griffon (sp?) fraternity house; Root Glen and the trails through the woods behind Kirkland; the cavernous library. K72

Joe (Man on the Floor)  Three dorms under construction and the mud, hard hats, the swing, the red pit, Mindy Sherer's goat in the kitchen, being an extra in the drunken dance scene in Sterile Cuckoo  K72

The Red Pit my first day when they talked about women's health and speculums and gave us Our Bodies Ourselves.  The woman who burned a piano for her senior project, Erica Jong and Madame Bovary on a reading list K78

The barricade erected during a feminist weekend houseparty. The women were screaming and spitting at men who came near the entrance to the campus that weekend. It was a girls' time to be alone and the hatred of all things male was in obvious evidence. H74

Kirkland reminds me of freedom, arts, inventiveness and creativity.  Strong women with strong ideals.  Feminism in a good way.  Also, an acceptance of all - quirky behaviors, outsiders, people who were different. K79

Selma Burkom trying to pry some genuine intellectual engagement out of what I think she perceived as a group of over-privileged dimwits. K72

Loved the open discussions about women's role in society, discrimination, sexual orientation, etc., topics that I had never really explored before. Loved that Kirkland gave incoming freshman Our Bodies Ourselves. Anonymous

Jazz walking behind Rhett Dennis and admiring his magnificent ass.  Getting totally wasted at the Pub on 25 cent beer night.  The campus dog pack sweeping through McEwen; led by Olive.  Boogeying down to Steak Nite at McEwen.  Selma Burkom's amazing lit class my freshman year.  K73

I used to make apple pies with the apples that grew outside B dorm.  H79

Listening to live music and cooking dinners with my suite mates. I also remember being excited about learning - almost all the time.  H75

My charming, smart, and hard-working late wife from the Charter Class; the swinging (when it wasn't broken and on the brick floor) rock at McEwen. H71

Being intimidated by the brilliance of all the wonderfully articulate and self -aware women that I met and became friends with; or disagreed with vehemently,  The sense of community that the Red Pit encouraged.  The rock (not the one in the village; the one in McEwen); Nadine George's History of Science classes; the sprung rhythm of Gerard Manley Hopkins in a George Bahlke class; Zenos Paradoxes as taught by Phyllis Morris; insightful evaluations from all of my professors.  Olive the dog.  K75

Steaknite.  Thinking it was a meal and not a concert.  Parties at the Afro-Latin Cultural Center.  Holding a rather vocal demonstration at KJ during a Trustees Meeting because the Black and Latin Student Union budget was cut.  Being on the committee to write the constitution--how cool was that!  Being in the first group to live in a co-ed dorm was actually both cool and disgusting.  No shower curtains!  Having class over spaghetti with Doug Raybeck.  Having class over wine with Jose Tato.  Being the Rabinowitzs first RA in B dorm.  Being disappointed that I missed getting a hard-hat by a year.  K75

I loved my history of science at Kirkland.  We worked in groups and had to solve problems together. I loved the dialogue and the fun of cooperative learning. We had to wake up in the middle of the night and watch the stars. We had to design and then actually build an orrery out of string and golf balls or ball bearings or whatever you could come up with.  K72

Woods; apples; friendly faces; snow; reading reading reading; writing writing; ceramics; Keene Coop; classes and events in the Pit. K78

Smart, inquisitive and challenging women intolerant of complacency. I remember being told that studying political science was no more than defending the status quo.  I disagreed , but only initially. H71

My friends, interesting, engaged and committed to learning, and all hoping to make the world a better place without being too crunchy granola. H79

The campus in its various seasons; especially fall and spring. My three mentors. Ceiling waffles; late-night discussions in the dorm with my freshman friends; coffee and cookies at the Coffeehouse; quarter beers at the Pub; cider from the cider mill; jazz at the Al Ham Inn; drinks and pool at the Village Tavern. The Babbitts. Ping pong in KJ. My best friend with whom I still maintain an incredibly close friendship. Protests; letter writing; petitions in the last year of Kirklands existence. The final graduation at Kirkland. K78

Hamilton Men: Did your experiences with Kirkland affect your attitude and behavior towards women post graduation at work and socially?


Kirkland was a incredible blessing to me -- I came to Hamilton from an all-male, Catholic, ROTC (military) high school, with precious little experience with women but, perhaps helpfully, with some experience with gender-segregated schools.  The whole Hamilton/Kirkland 1970-1974 experience pretty much established my post-college attitude towards women. In my professional work & social interactions, women are (to the extent that I'm human & can turn off sexual subcurrents) just people. I credit Kirkland for helping me become aware sexism in the world at large & in my own attitudes & behaviors. H74

Nope; I already respected women as human beings and professionals.  H79

The basic framework of my attitudes was pretty much already in place when I arrived. I wasn't in need of sensitizing; only of interaction.  H74

Kirkland women: did going to Kirkland affect your sense of self as a person and as a woman and how you dealt with the world and the workplace after graduating?


I think that having been at Kirkland, I felt that I could hold my own, as a person, as a woman, as a professional.  K72

I came to Kirkland from a supportive girls private school environment. It continued my development of an even firmer belief that I was certainly equal to men, not threatened by them, wanted to work and live with them- just confident. K75

Omigod yes.  How?  In every way imaginable.  Kirkland gave me voice, joy, power, energy, vision.  K72

Kirkland definitely gave me the sense that I was on an equal footing with men. When I entered the publishing world, I expected the same treatment/salary as my male colleagues, and sometimes I had to fight to get it.  K75

My prep school also went co-ed during my time at school. In both cases, I experienced greater loss than gain in the arrival of boys. I am still to this day proud of everything Kirkland was and carry on as a suburban mother, wife and business owner. K79

Absolutely! Kirkland created a positive environment for women that I've never since experienced so intensely. Personally; I was encouraged to speak up; to speak out. Kirkland's message to me was that my opinions and thoughts mattered. I cant think of anything more potent for an 18-year-old woman. I was a feminist when I arrived at Kirkland; so the experience only solidified that commitment.  K78

Absolutely.  I feel that for many years I had significant self doubts as a result of the constant message coming from the other side of the hill that women were not capable of serious academic pursuits. I find that the pioneering spirit that originally attracted me to Kirkland is an integral part of my psyche and has continued throughout everything I have done in my life. K72

How did you get on with students on the other side?  Did your perception of them change over time and if so how?


When I was a freshman (September 70) my Resident Advisor told us that Hamilton Men didn't mess with the Kirkies.  When they wanted female companionship they rolled to Skidmore or Cazenovia College. He told us that Kirkland girls didn't shave their armpits or legs, that they hated men, and were ugly. It didn't take too long for me and my classmates to figure that out that he was wrong on many counts. The pre-Kirkland Hamiltonians were dinosaurs. I did go on a roll to Cazenovia College. On the return home the drunk driver spun the car around and nearly killed us. That was the end of rolling for me.  H74

When I first started dating Kirkland women, some of my Hamilton friends copped an attitude about "hippie" women. Well, I was not the only Hamilton man going to the dark side and soon I had a new set of friends. The fraternity system was losing control and their attitudes were reactionary. It took about three years to make the marriage complete socially. H71.

We KNEW they were all main-stream doctor/lawyer/business wannabes... And whether it was hormones or plain curiosity, we eventually realized there were indeed some fellow soul mates over there on the other side of the hill. K75

Hamilton men were great guys, good friends.  Heh. I married one. :-) Having guys part of an intellectual argument brought very different angles and viewpoints. K72

I found the women that fit and basically ignored the wacky ones.  There were a good number of Hamilton women at Kirkland, even at that time. H79

At first I thought they were a bunch of preppy jocks, but that changed pretty quickly, by being in classes together and getting to know people individually... I even got friendly with some preppy jocks... they were smart men.  K72

I made life long friends.  My perception was not that they were them--- they were us. H71 (Frank)

I was fortunate to not be a Ham frat man so I met many Kirkland students at Commons.  By my senior year (year 3 of K) there was no distinction between H or K friends.  Each in his or her own way was a lifetime of bonding. H71

Just fine: great people are great people and jerks are jerks. Its was the same then as it is now and as it will always be.  K75

I still remember that cute little ditty Hamiltonians passed around: Wells Wed, Caz bed, Kirkland dread.  But over time, the relationship seemed to mellow.  Each incoming Hamilton class seemed less hostile towards Kirkland, less chauvinistic.  K73

I met and enjoyed socializing with a group of Hamilton guys who shared my values and way of looking at the world, but they were in the minority at Hamilton. The more majority students, and especially the frat boys, reinforced all my negative feelings about conservative, chauvinistic men and their bad attitudes about pretty much everything having lived through the transition from coordinating colleges to a co-ed one was a nightmare. I would never have applied to Hamilton as a co-ed institution.  K79

The freshman were always fun. The seniors were tough. They made us feel that they had no say regarding our being there and therefore made us pay a little. But, by the end of the first year, I think things had calmed down between us.  I think also the Vietnam war and students getting draft numbers, and all of us writing and working together on protests and marches ...pulled us together on a much bigger issues.  K72

To what extent did you participate in activities, classes, etc. at the other college?  Did you form mentor-mentee relationships with faculty? Were these experiences positive or negative?


I had the pleasure of being Residence Committee chairman during the merger, and the unique perspective on the Hamilton side as the guy who was the face of opening up the stone campus, and Carnegie in particular, to women and [gasp] freshmen. Entirely positive experiences, and the most clearly etched from all my time at Hamilton. H79

ELS was a life saver for me ... and the co ed dorms really helped gel the social thing for me.  K75

In my junior year our beloved anthropologist Clara Nicholson was fired and replaced by a young anthropologist from Cornell, Doug Raybeck, who was still working on his Ph.D.  My roommate (also an anthro major) and I went to 42nd St in Manhattan and purchased a fake shrunken head with the label "Its nice to have a Man around the house" and nailed it to his office door before the first day of class.  He left us a note saying, "We need to talk."  Thus began our first of many mentoring conferences.  K72

My creative writing teacher, Professor Rosenfeld was a mentor.  I had done poorly in Hamilton's English classes, which had a heavy emphasis on grammar and memorization.  Rosenfeld's classes unlocked a different capacity of actually creating ones own story.  If you think that sounds like a gut, recall that he also assigned us Herodotus The Persian Wars as one of our textbooks.  H79

While I treasure a few Hamilton relationships; I didn't feel connected to a majority of the Hamilton students philosophically or politically. As head of a Kirkland/Hamilton organization; I worked with students from both sides of the Hill and reported to a Hamilton board. This proved to be a good lesson for me. I learned the importance of respecting disparate views and understanding different sensibilities.  K78

How did you feel when you learned that Kirkland was going to be absorbed by Hamilton


Appropriate action.  The idea of coordinate colleges was nothing more than an artificial situation. H71

Terrible, terrible. It was a black pit sort of feeling. I joined in the protests, I signed petitions. K78

Betrayed.  K75

It really broke my heart, but I understood ultimately it was a better way to mesh the whole philosophy of education at the Hill.  K75

THANK GOD.  I was so lucky to get a Hamilton degree. K79

I was sick over it.  Being in the last Kirkland class, the news was devastating, and a good portion of the first half of senior year was consumed with worrying about the merger.  It seemed to be the end of an era, an age, and I worried because I feared that the spirit that was Kirkland would be lost entirely.  K78

Disappointed. It happened far too soon. I don't think Kirkland was given the proper opportunity to build an alumnae base or endowment. I kept my distance from the college for many years in the wake of that decision. However, I am now the father of a (female) Hamilton undergraduate who made the decision to apply entirely on her own, and who has loved the college from the day she arrived, so it's fair to say I've made my peace. I have been pleasantly surprised by the degree to which Kirkland's spirit and legacy have lived on at Hamilton. H74

While merging the schools lost identity for Kirkland it solidified a more natural setting for the combined instititutions and to that extent I believe it assisted both, not just Hamilton. H79

I watched it happen; as a junior faculty member at Hamilton.  It was a tense and very unhappy time.  The relation between the Colleges was no longer about academic cooperation and intellectual development.  Hamilton-Kirkland relations became a contest over political and economic control. H71

It's kind of dramatic to say betrayed, but I did feel that Hamilton used the opportunity to remove the thorn that was Kirkland. It was a shame that they ever allowed Kirkland to be chartered as it was.  The two philosophies were so different, and Hamilton's board was so clearly unprepared to support us, that there was a feeling of having been brought there under false pretenses. I still feel that Hamilton could have helped us find a way to stay a separate institution, it just didn't suit them to do so. K79

I think the whole affair was a ridiculous, savage, wrong-headed and prejudiced attack by a small group of small-minded, self-centered individuals without perspective or vision, but with a lot of clout. I think there were many people who acted honorably and did what they could where they could.     It's tough to lose an institution that played such a central role at a critical point in my life.  However, I think the continued interest in the Kirkland Philosophy (by alum as well as former Kirkland faculty) has gone a long way towards healing the bad end. K75

The times became very different very quickly.  The Vietnam war was over, free sex started having drawbacks, and the academic communities could really no longer afford to be separate-but-equal. I ultimately thought (the merger) was a good thing, but was glad that I was part of the original design. H71

I was bummed.  I remember the black armbands at graduation. H79

I was glad. It made sense and was merely recognition of a fait accompli. H71

I hoped the Kirkland POV would not be taken over.  I really feel that the Hamilton trustees didn't give Kirkland a chance.  H79

These are still painful memories. It was terrifying. We were all called into the KJ auditorium for a meeting. Sam delivered the bad news that the college might not last the school year. Here I was in my junior year; and I was told that I might not actually graduate from Kirkland.  K79

I felt like amassing an army lead by bagpipers, charging up the hill and taking over the campus. K72

Reactions from all six years, men and women: terrible, frustrated, sad, furious, sick, devastated, sorry, disappointed.

Honestly, do you feel Kirkland was a positive addition to your educational experience?  Why or why not?

No.  Was irrelevant.  Had great teachers and classes at Hamilton, no need for me to do Kirkland thing.  I would have preferred it wasn't there.  Anonymous

Yes, Kirkland was a great place and I hope Hamilton will continue to support its facilities and philosophies. K72

Kirkland helped introduce me to a whole new world of women and their perspectives.  This education and discovery is still continuing and growing. H79

Kirkland was absolutely a positive addition to my educational experience although I did not recognize it, or utilize its impact at the time. On the other hand, Kirkland did not help me to build the strong sense of confidence that it touted. It wasn't a place that nurtured hesitant or thoughtful response, one needed to be loud and forceful to prosper. K72

The respect paid to women's opinions and points of view, and the focus on discussions rather than memorization, were key, for me. I met some wonderful, bright, strong women there who weren't afraid to learn, and be challenged.  K78

Absolutely, it stood for everything I am. I would do it all over again!  K75

There is little I would have changed. What more can I say?  K78

I wouldn't trade the experience (even with the 1 1/2 years of angst over the merger) for anything in the world.  What a marvelous marvelous time to be in such a wonderful place. K78

It's hard to convey just HOW positive an addition Kirkland was to my educational experience. It prepared me for a lifetime of learning. K72

I am so aware of women's issues, and I fight for them all through my career. It was a great learning experience, though painful. K79

Kirkland challenged us to assume responsibility for our own intellectual growth, to look skeptically on gender stereotypes and to be aware of gender-based injustice, to love art as much as science and economics, to have fun.  Not to mention that Kirkland was full of very smart, very self-confident, and very hot chicks.  H74

I never would have gone on to do what I have done [professionally] if it had not been for the traditions, structure and classics we had at Hamilton while Kirkland allowed me to do my thing and pursue my zany research project in the steaming streets of ancient India.  Douglas Raybeck will always be my hero!  K75

In my total experience, the presence of women was a good thing.  Previously, Hamilton had treated women as weekend diversions.  In fact, at Orientation in 1967, the Dean had said Eve was made from Adam's rib, and women should always be a side issue.  We needed to value and respect women, and that is part of education.  H71

Hard to say whether I chose Kirkland because I was a strong, independent female already or that Kirkland made me one.  Certainly, it contributed to my ability to think and write well and helped me to see myself as a leader.  I am sure that the community spiritedness of Kirkland contributed to my desire to work in the non-profit sector.  I cherish my Kirkland education and I miss my college.  K78

For me, Kirkland was the perfect place at the perfect time, it was a place where girls who were raised in the bra-burning sixties were treated as if they really could do anything or become anyone they wanted. When I stepped into the real world and found that things really weren't that easy, I still had that solid belief within me.  K75

Yes, but only marginally, because I failed to grasp the opportunity to get to know the Kirkland students better.  Probably because of fear of the unknown.  H72

Kirkland was a safe place to learn to fall down and pick yourself up. K78

Without a doubt, Hamilton might have done well enough by going co-ed, but the challenge of a separate and often very different institution pushed Hamilton forward. Hamilton became a much better College with a richer curriculum and a more diverse faculty. In short, Hamilton woke up. H71

I learned what intellectual curiosity was about, to value self-expression and simultaneously, academic discipline (something I needed to tap into during my doctoral program).  I learned to love writing under the tutelage of Bill Jamison and William Rosenfeld.  I learned that even the most absurd topic can be challenging (Occult and Pseudo-Science with Nadine George).  I wish that I had learned to have fun with it; everything seemed so damned serious.  But at least I know that now.  K75

Kirkland got me to think outside the box. It saved my life and inspired me to take responsibility for my own education and go for broke. I would never have graduated from Hamilton if Kirkland had not been there. Hamilton felt stuffy and humorless to me and I would have suffocated. K72

It was where I began to learn to think for myself  K75

The experience of graduating from Hamilton instead of Kirkland shaped my whole life's ambition; which I found was true for every women in the room when we discussed it at our 25th reunion. K79

I have been thrown into new and uncomfortable situations again and again since Kirkland, and I have succeeded a lot because of the experience I had there. K75

Not at all.  Nostalgia is one thing ... and 40 years of females on the hill is all well and good.  But, please -- once and for all -- let the flippin' Kirkland thing go.  It was a bad academic idea that was poorly executed and, as a result, was very short-lived, and has no bearing whatsoever on what Hamilton is today.  I think that you will find that very few of us (i.e., male Hamiltonians) will have anything significantly positive to say about it.  If I am wrong, I apologize. H79

Kirkland taught me to take responsibility for my own education. K75

Yes: females nearby are a civilizing influence. H67

Yes. While the mainstream of students at Kirkland were not that different from that of any other college; there was a healthy fringe that was different.  The ideals of the college were also different.  Kirkland was experimental and proud.  I'm glad to see what today's students call "the dark side" becoming brighter and cheerier (Im talking about the building renovations) because that's how I remember it.  H79

Of course. Because of its ideals and because anything which plays out that intensely in that brief a period of time provides insights in many spheres. Discovering that Jay Williams was entirely in favor of the merger was a true epiphany.    And because an environment with so many achievement-oriented women was hugely enriching-- and a great many of Kirklands students were exactly that. I believe that cross-registration was the carrot that made  the apple intriguing as it were. H74

Is this a trick question?  My Kirkland experience was a wild ride.  I held on for dear life; got the wits scared out of me; and became exhilerated.  What more can you ask of an education?  K72

Favorite Kirkland stories and Kirkland-Hamilton interactions


A bagpipe march I instigated, though I was not the piper, one autumn night. Kirkland girls responded stirringly with a bagpipe-led countermarch.  H74

I was one of the Hamilton students who drove the jitney for Kirkland students.  H74

I loved the eccentricities of Kirkland- bagpipes at graduation, the tent, the open mike.  Sam Babbitt was Kirkland to me.  K75

I felt that the coffee house was a perfect example of the two colleges merging and getting enrichment even though it was on the Kirkland campus (which I believe is now called the dark side? (lol)  K78

I remember the first week of freshman year the Hamilton freshmen class marched over to Kirkland under the pretense of a panty raid. Not sure what we were thinking but it was pretty funny.  H74

The events of the spring of 1970 brought the two campuses together. When we had our post Kent State march into Clinton, ADs were our marshals because they already dressed in uniform.  So, we had the hippie Kirkland women and the ADs uniformed in lacoste striped belts and boat shoes, acting as the marshals.  It worked.  K72

As a foreign student from Turkey I will never forget the campus sex and birth control lecture in the womb room during orientation.  It also took me a while to get used to some of the girls who never shaved and wore floral skirts over pants and boots.   K78

I remember taking a class at Kirkland with Mrs. Colby and one at Hamilton with Dr. Colby at the same time, sitting next to them at a concert and talking about childbirth. That sort of thing is impossible to replicate.  K78

In the first month of freshman year, while men were literally camped on our doorstep, several of us in Minor dorm stumbled into the bathroom one morning to find chickens on hay roosting in our sinks. K72

Chapel, where they constantly lampooned Kirkland women.  It was funny, not offensive.  Lesbian women in abundance.  The only time I've been hit on in my life was by a woman at Kirkland.  Quite an experience. Men taking art, dance, etc. I loved watching them open up to new ideas.  I feel so lucky to have attended such a vibrant, quirky, interesting college. I wouldn't trade it for anything.  K78

There was the day the poor girl from Kirkland streaked the chapel meeting at Hamilton and the men closed the doors and stood in front of them to block the streaker's escape. I had to pity the poor soul as the prank turned ugly.  K'74

One day, during a 20th century music class that Jay Riese taught, Peter Rabinowitz was sitting in.  We were listening to a 12-tone piece of music when Prof. R. suddenly jumped up and shouted, "Where are the tunes?  This isn't music - there are no tunes!" and stormed out of the room.  We were all stunned, laughing nervously.  Turned out that he and Riese had worked out this bit of theater together.  Wonderful to see the faculty so silly, and it got the whole class loosened up and more engaged. K78

I remember meeting in the chapel to listen to speakers and accounts of the Kent State massacre. We seemed to be a pretty united community at that moment, fearful and sad and angry and confused.  K72

Senior year, I was dating a Hamilton man (a frat boy), and he needed to take a "gut class" to finish off the year.  He decided to take an intro level Sociology class at Kirkland, which he assumed would be the "gut" he was looking for.  Well, with concentrations in government and sociology, I was a little wary of  his attitude.  As it turned out, he did not pass the Kirkland class, and did not graduate. I saw this event as a metaphor for the Hamilton/Kirkland relationship, in a lot of ways.  The old guard at Hamilton simply didn't "get" Kirkland. Anonymous

None that can be told while the other participants are still alive. H74

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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