By Josh Allenberg, Carlow Alum, & Former Editor-in-Chief for the Carlow Chronicle
“Blessings on you, Carlow University, younger days remembering,”
It’s almost been a year since I left Carlow University. I came to Carlow in 2011 as a 30-year old freshman, attending on the newly enacted Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Over my four years at Carlow, I received the benefits of a women-centered education, including taking a mandated Women’s Studies course.
These benefits have manifested themselves to this very day. I’m actively involved in groups that advocate on behalf of women across the country and the world. I am quick to point out the casual misogyny that occurs in society both in media and in my own day-to-day dealings. I’ve become aware of the privilege that comes with being a middle class white man, and I recognize all of the societal benefits that this privilege comes with.
“Searching always for self- knowledge, truth and all its wondering.”
The truth is, from 1929 until 2015, the mission of Carlow University was to provide a women-centered education to its students. After WWII, returning servicemen who flooded area schools on the G.I. Bill were invited to join the women here, provided they transfer after the first two years.
Former president Sister M. Thomas Aquinas Carroll stated in her inauguration address, “Mount Mercy College [the former name of Carlow] is for women.” She also went on to state that by providing a women-centered education to women, they “gain fuller confidence in themselves as important in their own right.”
“We thank you for walking with us when our steps were not so sure. Praise and love you for your trusting in days when we were less secure.”
A women-centered perspective on education fosters an environment where women are free to express themselves. As Barbara Bank of the University of Missouri puts it, a women-centered education “helps women to become more self-confident and self-assertive by taking seriously women’s activities and their contributions to historical and contemporary society, and by not using male-oriented standards to judge them.”
“Your community of learning taught us truth’s a mystery. So we are forever yearning, searching always faithfully. As we journey roads unknown we’re strengthened by your legacy. Having been our kindly home,”
Last year, before graduation, I took part in the Core Curriculum redesign group. Prior to that, when Dr. Katie Hogan was chair of the Women’s Studies Department, I drafted a letter to Dr. Mellon and the University’s Board of Trustees, urging them to maintain the Women’s Studies requirement, and not to drop the women-centered legacy from the University’s philosophy and mission statement. In my letter, I tried to make the point clear that boosting male enrollment at the price of discarding over 85 years of having a bedrock principle that Carlow is a women-centered institution of higher learning isn’t worth it. It saddens me to look at the webpage for the mission, vision, values, and philosophy statement of Carlow University and read that the women-centered aspect of the university is being treated as history.
Dr. Mellon, you may wish to discard what tens of thousands of current and former staff, faculty, administrators, students, and alumni(ae) have built in order to boost attendance on a spreadsheet. I do wish to caution you that there is a growing element of us in the ranks of the alumni who are concerned that the Carlow University we all came to love and cherish dearly is soon going to be gone by the wayside.
We do not wish for Carlow to be turned into a smaller version of the typical college campus, where alpha males are free to roam around on campus and create an intimidating, hostile environment for women while learning. After all, when women couldn’t get a quality education at an institution that respected them as equal members of society, the Sisters of Mercy decided to create their own. They called it Mount Mercy College, although you might better know it now as Carlow University.
Bless you, Carlow University.