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Group Challenges Wilson College's Decision to go Co-Ed

A group of alumnae challenging Wilson College’s decision to become fully co-ed presented their argument in front of the Pennsylvania Board of Education Monday.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. A group of alumnae challenging Wilson College’s decision to become fully co-ed presented their argument in front of the Pennsylvania Board of Education on Monday.

The group, Wilson College Women, alleges the school did not gain proper approval from the board before deciding to open their undergraduate program to males.

"Rather than competing for all the students that have choices to go to more well-known schools, let's really focus on those young women that will benefit from a women's college campus and recruit them,” said Gretchen Van Ness of Wilson College Women.

Meanwhile, the college argues they need to go co-ed to keep the school financially sustainable.

Wilson College's undergraduate program has historically been all-female. However, their adult degree and graduate programs have always accepted men, and last fall the school allowed undergraduate male commuter students for the first time.

Opponents argue Wilson College began recruiting male undergraduates without legal authority, but school administrators say they believe they did have the authority to expand their undergraduate program.

"We believe that the existing charter, the 1993 charter allows for us to expand our undergraduate program,” said Brian Speer, vice president of marketing and communications at Wilson College.

The college also says accepting men into their undergraduate program will likely increase enrollment and ensure financial sustainability— something they say is needed. According to administrators, their undergraduate program has been under-enrolled for the past 40 years.

Meanwhile, some students say they just want more diversity.

"I think it's a good idea because it makes the campus more lively and diverse,” said Wilson College student Erin Kim.

"I think it should because it gives everyone the chance to come here,” said Doug Krueger, an intern at Wilson College Fulton Farm.

But those against a co-ed campus say Wilson College’s core mission as a women's college needs to be defended.

"To protect Wilson College as one of the few remaining women's colleges in Pennsylvania,” said Van Ness.

A decision from the Board of Education is not expected until this fall. If the outcome of this hearing falls in favor of Wilson College, they will begin to allow undergraduate men on campus beginning in the 2014 fall semester.

Both sides are required to submit their final arguments to the Board of Education by August 1st.

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