When I could have chosen to attend another college, I chose Peace College.† It was there I met my best friends, my Peace sisters.† Not only was it an all-womenís college, but it was a two year institute at the time. †In my first year, I attended a meeting that was designed to inform us of the possibility of earning a four year degree, and to see how many would be interested in remaining to do so.† I signed my name, and walked out with a hat and a promise.
Due to financial circumstances I did not have the opportunity to earn my two year degree from Peace.† I attended a community college my sophomore year, but returned to complete my junior and senior years, earning a B.A. majoring in Psychology with a minor in English.† I missed the White Dress and Rose ceremony of the two year degree that so many of my Peace sisters experiencedóa beautiful ceremony that only exists in pictures and memories now.
During my senior year a new college president came into office, and things began to change again.† Staff began to leave, some of their own accord, some let go in order to hire new personnel.† Because we were used to a fairly open door policy with staff it was very difficult on the students, especially the upper classwomen, to watch as so much we had become accustomed to change and disappear.† It was made even more difficult since the focus of the new administration seemed to be placed on the newer students.† We felt as if we were being hurried off to make way for the new.
Even now looking back the class of 1999 isnít remembered as the first B.A. graduating class to complete four years, but we were.† We werenít even the first to wear the green robes, but you wonít find our initials or names on any robes, nor those of the first few B.A. graduates that came before us.† That tradition began after us, and no one thought to include us or those women who came before.
I remember hearing about the end of the White Dress and Rose ceremony.† Even though I didnít get to have it, I was very sad to hear of its passing.† It was a major blow to the connection many women felt to the college, as if it hadnít already begun to weaken, but we maintained our connection to each other.
Now our college is undergoing more changes that leave many of us feeling more severed than before.† Peace College has been renamed, William Peace University, after the man who originally bequeathed the land, establishing the college for the purpose of educating women.† If that isnít enough, it is now to become co-ed.† This has prompted the most turmoil as it marks the end of absolutely everything the Peace women held dear.† It means that our college is no more.
Understanding that the administration and the board of trustees must make decisions that take into account the continuation of the institute as an educational entity as well as self-sustaining business entity, I do not envy their position.† I donít have any millions of dollars to donate, nor do I have any brilliant ideas to offer to preserve Peace as an all-womenís educational institute.† But when they wonder why they are losing the support of alumnae, I would point to all the traditions that no longer exist that connected graduates to the college.† When they wonder why the class of 1999 is one of the least involved, I would point to how we werenít included.† When they wonder why fewer Peace daughters and women in general enroll, I would point to how many changes have taken place over all the years that have made it less and less like the place of our memories and therefore less of a promising destination for those seeking similar experiences.