Mills College students fear losing a safe and “sacred” place in the merger with Northeastern.


Mills College’s Junior Face Tracker oddly admits how much the schools’ announced merger with Northeastern University, particularly the admission of more cis-gender men into historic women’s colleges, has on campus female dynamics, I’m afraid to change.

“Mills feels like a really safe place, and it just feels sacred to me,” she said. “I’m sexually harassed at another college and can let go when I’m on campus now. I feel like I’m going to lose it.

Talacker is one of over 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students at the Liberal Arts School in East Auckland. Earlier this year The announced school It will be closed due to financial difficulties, registrations for new students will be suspended, the final diploma will be awarded in 2023 and the Mills Institute will replace it.

However, on September 14, Mills’ leadership merged with Northeastern University in Boston and signed a co-publishing contract, ending the university as a private women’s college. (University graduate programs already allow men, but undergraduate programs that make up the majority of the student body do not.)

The merger will create Mills College at Northeastern University in July. The Mills Institute is a new college research department focused on empowering women, BIPOC, and first-generation students.

The news elicited various reactions from students and graduates. Many are angry that the merger will end Mills’ legacy as a liberal arts space primarily for women. This movement continued for decades with the closure of women’s colleges. In the 1960s, there were about 200 such schools in the United States, and the number was Reduced to 33 Once the Mills merger is complete. However, some say they are aware of the financial reality of the school and are happy to survive one way or another.

Students are enjoying the end of summer on the Mills College campus in Oakland. (MJ Johnson)

Moria Costa, who agreed to the transfer to Mills just as news of the school’s closure broke earlier this year, is happy to have some degree of security.

“I don’t think the merger is that bad. If that saves school, that’s something we should open up to as we graduate and finish what we started. It’s because, ”said the 21-year-old dance major.

Universities have faced financial challenges for years. In 2017, he declared a financial emergency and fired dozens of permanent teachers. Due to the low enrollment rate, the school reduced tuition fees by 36% to attract more applicants, from $ 44,765 in 2017 to just over $ 29,000 in 2020. In addition, 96% of undergraduates received financial support. However, registrations continued to decline.

Elizabeth Hillman, president of Mills College, said the merger with Northeastern University was a blessing for the university.

“We couldn’t keep running like we are doing now,” Hillman said. “We couldn’t make competitive payments to people, we couldn’t maintain the campus as we needed it, and we couldn’t attract enough students to really fulfill our mission. . ”

But many don’t see it that way. The merger has been widely criticized by students and graduates for eliminating what many consider women and gender non-binary people to be a safe place to receive a liberal arts education.

Taraker said he believes the school’s decision to become a co-editor threatens the inclusive and diverse community created by Mills. Currently, 58% of Mills students identify as LGBTQ and 65% are students of color. Hillman pointed to the new Mills Institute to demonstrate the school’s commitment to upholding its mission. Northeastern University is providing seed money for the establishment of the institute.

The singing graduates have opposed the contracts with the Northeast from the start. Members of the alumni association, Mills College, are also members of the school’s board of trustees and filed proceedings in June with the Alameda County High Court for access to the financial statements. of the University. The judge issued an injunction on the merger decision in August, which was short-lived, and the Mills board decided to complete the merger the day after the judge lifted the injunction.

Launched by alumni, the Save Mills College Coalition is seeking intervention from California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Governor Gavin Newsom to try to come up with alternatives to the merger. Coalition chair Cynthia Mahud Levin said an independent analysis of Mills’ finances found the group needed to raise $ 24 million in donations to maintain Mills as a private women’s college. .. So far, Union Pledge has raised over $ 535,000.

Nadine Dixon, a member of the 2009 Class Coalition, resumed her studies when she entered Mills. As an older student, mother and lesbian, she felt right at home on campus. “They all fit in there,” she said. “Now I understand Mills was flattened, but we can get him back. ”

However, some students said they wanted to continue their education. They understand the history of the university and the meaning of what is lost, but for them Mills will never change.

Fay Ajay Dopem, a graduate student who attends Mills on a scholarship, said he feels positive about the merger as it means the university will remain open.

“It is important to open up a space for students of color who have had the opportunity to receive a liberal arts education,” said Ajayi-Dopemu, a Nigerian father. “They have been affected by the closure of Mills. I am not an elder.

The school provided some advice on the transition, but students are not sure what this means for their individual circumstances. Northeastern University will honor Mills’ promises of scholarships and financial aid, according to the school’s announcement. The permanent faculty will remain and the staff will be employees of the Northeast. Teachers from both schools work together to develop graduate and undergraduate programs. Hillman remains president.

For Ajayi-Dopemu, it’s personal. Her family history is rooted at Mills College – her grandparents met on campus.

“People in the Bay love Mills and they always will,” she said.

This story was published in collaboration with Auckland side..

Mills College students fear they will lose a safe and “sacred” place in the merger with Northeastern. Mills College students fear losing a safe and “sacred” place in the merger with Northeastern.

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