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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

A sexist degree debacle

What is Jackson College? Have any of you heard of Jackson College? Has any student in recent memory applied for admission to Jackson College?

Almost half of the student body at Tufts University will receive their degrees from Jackson College. And do you know why? It's because they are Women.

Jackson College is a legal entity of Tufts University. The title of the undergraduate division of the university remains the College of Liberal Arts and Jackson College, yet the literature never refers to this fact. Nowhere in the bulletin, the website, or in the Pachyderm is there a reference to Jackson College as a part of the Liberal Arts program.

To find any reference of Jackson College you would have to search the archives. The Arts and Sciences administration decided that it would be politically incorrect to make reference to the fact that female students are summarily assigned to Jackson College. Yet Jackson College is going to be written on our diploma, the most significant document we receive from Tufts University.

Cornelia Jackson was a feminist who fought for the rights of women to attend quality higher educational institutions. When Tufts University conceded women the right to attend at the university, they were admitted under a separate yet equal program named after Ms. Jackson. The founding philosophy was to "remove the disabilities of women" in obtaining a college degree. Eventually, the idea of separate but equal education at Tufts was dissolved but for some reason in the early '60s, to "honor" Ms Jackson's contribution to women's education, the practice of awarding degrees to females in the liberal arts program from Jackson College was reinstated.

According to the various powers that be, the only reason for this practice to continue is tradition, a tradition that does not honor Ms. Jackson's legacy. Women have fought for equal rights since Revolutionary times. Ms. Jackson would probably be appalled that a distinction between the sexes was still being made at this university.

It is a clear violation of both federal and state law to award a degree that contains language whose inclusion is solely based on the gender of the recipient. Never would this practice have continued for so long if the criteria was race, ethnicity, or religion. The apathy of the faculty, administration, and student body to this practice is a disgrace. You only have to look at any legislative body in session to see the detrimental effects of this apathy. In a society where females make up half the population, we are woefully under represented in positions of power. And to say it doesn't matter or to perpetuate a tradition that erodes our right to be treated the same is also a disgrace.

Quick, name the three most powerful women in the United States? If it takes you more than thirty seconds to answer then you must agree with me. Change is needed and society changes with one person at a time and one seemingly small issue at a time. Please join me in fighting this injustice.

Larissa Johnson is a senior majoring in sociology and English.