“Affiliation between Vassar and Yale would raise the moral quality of campus life,” says Yale President Brewster. Ah, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
In 1895, when intercollegiate football and intramural sports for girls were campus novelties, Charles Dana Gibson sketched a lively prognosis about how it all might end. Not only would Vassar girls one day play football against Yale men—a Yale ball carrier might even, as seems to be the case in one drawing, find himself beset by an impenetrable line of formidable Vassarites for whom padding would be superfluous. Well, no man sees the future clear, and when Vassar girls played football against Yale not long ago—a modest variant of two-handed touch, to be sure—the Elis trounced the Vassar girls 40-0.
Gibson erred, however, on a deeper level, for the spirit of competition he envisioned between Yale men and the aroused feminists of Vassar has gone the way of the Gibson girl herself. Far from competing, Vassar College may soon become an affiliate of Yale University and transplant itself cap, gown, and miniskirt from Poughkeepsie, New York, to New Haven, Connecticut—that is, from a high-tax to a low-whistle area. After a century of courting Vassar girls over seventy-five miles of highway, Yale men may find them conveniently seated at adjacent desks. At the moment of writing, however, all that is officially certain is that a Yale-Vassar committee is studying the “desirability” of the move.
A minor revolution is in the making, but there were no student tears and regrets either at New Haven or Poughkeepsie when the news was announced last winter. Though a few of the girls were hesitant (“I’d have to spend hours setting my hair,” said one), most were jubilant. “We need guys around here,” a sophomore said bluntly. An obviously better balanced English major is looking forward to “Four thousand men and all those books in the library!” Even a science grind gave approval, though reluctantly: “I don’t like Yalies,” she remarked, “I just want their facilities, particularly their electron microscopes.” At a recent Vassar rally a sign appeared asking: “Vale or Yassar—Which?”
The girls seem to have few qualms about Vassar’s losing some of its old identity, and in fact it appears that Vassar would retain most of its independence in any future alliance. “We Vassar women,” one undergraduate observed, “are the perfect counterpart to the Yale men. So we may as well be together.”
The response of Yale undergraduates was somewhat less philosophical. What loomed large in their minds was the elimination of the long auto trip, and the last word, therefore, belongs properly to a poet of sorts, Yale law professor Fred Rodell, who put his response to the affiliation announcement into a limerick:
“As a frequent commuter from Yale
In the days when this joint was all male,
As a weekending gypsy
'Twixt here and Poughkeepsie
I’m thrilled by this Yale-Vassar tale.”