St. Kate’s Evening, Weekend, and Online (EWO) program is to be changed from a program for women into a program for adults. Many students in the undergraduate day program are worried that this will potentially lead to the day program becoming coed as well.
“I know not many students at St. Kate’s chose the school because it’s a women’s college, but that’s actually one of the reasons I did,” said Shelby Batterson ’18. “I know female students who go to St. Thomas and they feel like their voice is drowned out by their male peers.”
The reason for the change in the EWO program is due to enrollment being down, costing the university some money. St. Kate’s is hoping that by having a coed EWO program, enrollment will be up, along with funding for the university.
Some students within the EWO program are happy with the changes.
“I understand why some students aren’t happy with the changes in the program, but honestly I’m fine with it; I just hope they keep TRW,” said Paula Minell ’16. “I trust that the board of trustees made this decision properly. If it’s between changing the EWO program a bit or no EWO program, I’m going to choose changing it.”
While those opposing the changes in the EWO program are more vocal, even creating a petition in the hopes that it will change the board’s mind, Minell is confident that most EWO students are fine with the changes.
“I think it’s more that those opposing are more vocal than those that are fine with it, and on some level that makes sense,” Minell said.
Amanda Campbell ‘17 is a EWO student who is relatively neutral to the changes.
“You know, at first when I heard about the changes I thought, no, not possible. Now though, I’m trying to see both sides,” said Campbell. “On one hand the University needs to continue as a successful business. On the other hand I want future students to share the same wonderful experience I had at a women’s college.”
Campbell also wondered if there was a way for some classes to be women’s only and others coed.
“Just like how it’s possible to do a cross-section with EWO classes and day classes, I think maybe they could make some EWO classes coed and some not,” Campbell said. “But I don’t know if or how that would really work.”
“If the classes become coed, some female students won’t feel comfortable speaking up in class about their experiences,” said Karen Ciesielczyk ’16, an opponent to the changes in the EWO program. “In one class we were talking about female genital mutilation and one woman spoke up about her experience. If there was a male in the class I don’t think she would have been brave enough to do that.”
One aspect to the change in the EWO program that isn’t usually talked about is that in order to enter the program, you must have previous college credits.
“If that was the policy back when I applied for the EWO program, I wouldn’t have gotten in,” said Ciesielczyk. “This new policy seems like a barrier to women’s education, which is something St. Kate’s should definitely not be [promoting].”
While many EWO students and even day students disagree with the changes in the EWO program, all three of the EWO students interviewed had to say that they believed the EWO program was wonderful.
“It’s an extraordinary program,” said Campbell.
“It’s [a] really wonderful, diverse program,” added Minell.
“An exceptional program,” Ciesielczyk agreed.