A Shift in the Rules

Post Author: minksc

As Madison College opened as a women’s teaching college in 1908 it strove to keep the virtue of its ladies intact. Even as male students flooded the campus, the rules and regulations that governed the women’s behavior remained mostly unchanged. Though they did not live at home female students were still subject to their parent’s rule, under the Parental Approval Card which either gave or denied female students the ability to participate in certain social activities. Female students who were awarded the privilege of dating by their parents, still had to abide by Madison College’s dating rules. From 1965/66 until 1970/71 the dating rules for female students remained largely unaltered, even after male students became present on campus full-time. The start of the 1970s marked an important shift in U. S. culture which impacted life on campus.

The “Sexual Revolution,” led to an increase in awareness of women as sexual beings, and modifications in their social behaviors. The development of “the pill” in the early 1960s allowed women more freedoms in their sexuality, and by the early 1970s it was requested that Madison College provide birth control pills to female students (Schulman 174, and 71-Breeze). The call for birth control was associated with other changes occurring around campus, and is just one of many examples of how the women at Madison College in the 1970s were fighting for more freedoms.

Over the next decade the women’s rules for dating became less strict, and then virtually nonexistent. There was no longer a separation in the listing of male and female rules in the student handbook, and with the exception of freshmen, parents had no say in the social activities of their students. The house mother and rules regarding the dormitories became less rigid. Madison College, later James Madison University, recognized female students as being capable of controlling their own lives.



Featured Image-Control #: Namec03, JMU Historic Photos Online, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Schulman, Bruce J., The Seventies, p. 174.

The Breeze, November 5, 1971, Vol. XLVIII, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.