Radcliffe, the lost sister

Books, tweed, scarves, glasses, rowing, and bicycles. Cambridge.radcliffe

I went looking for Radcliffe but all I got was Harvard. The sign at the gate still says Radcliffe but once inside it is all Harvard.stairway

What was once a sister school to its Ivy male equivalent, is now just part of one co-ed whole. No distinction other than a sign on an old brick wall.jake library

W.A.S.P.y blue bloods still swarm around but it is no longer a singular hive. This is a good thing but still I feel a little loss on behalf of Radcliffe.equations

No. That isn’t true. I don’t know Radcliffe and I cannot mourn for her. We never really met. Really, I’m just a little perturbed that in my quest to collect pennants from all seven sisters, they no longer manufacture one for a school that was absorbed long ago.

front of librarySo I settle for Harvard. Typing that phrase makes me smirk.  So, like a suitor late to the dance, the music has already started, I see Radcliffe has gone off with another. I look a little to the left, “Sup Barnard? How you doin’?”

Bryn Mawr: the Big Hill

Ten miles up the mainline from Philadelphia is Lower Marion Township. Driving up route 30 rowhouses give way to stone houses and trees. I pass St. Joe’s, the French International School, then after Haverford I take a right. There not quite all the way to Rosemont or Villanova, is Bryn Mawr.ImageQuakers founded the school in 1885 but the board soon decided the institution would have no religious affiliation. It is the first school in America to offer a PhD to women.ImageBryn Mawr is one of the seven sisters. It brings to mind images of knee high socks and plaid skirts I saw none of that when I visited. I did see a chemistry lab filled with glass tubes and DNA models.Image




Mt. Holyoke: the big sister

One of my family’s favorite people went here. Half Iranian Baha’i girls who studied Hip-Hop aesthetics and linguistics don’t grow on trees… they grow at Mt. Holyoke.


Mt. Holyoke is the oldest of the seven sisters. It was founded (1837) in a time when college was only for young men and there was a prevailing idea that education caused infertility in women.

Perhaps this was a classic case of both correlation/causation confusion and self fulfilling prophesy. Maybe most men of the day thought women’s frailty could not endure big ideas and once women got more education they would no longer suffer fools… which could look a little bit like “infertility”.



I first heard of Wellesley on an episode of the Simpsons. It was Lisa’s school of choice. She knew what she was talking about but I was clueless.I have visited all of the ivys, the ancient 8, and quite a few community colleges. Wellesley wins.The campus felt peaceful and smart. That is not how I remembered college the first time I went. It seemed smart like a secluded monastery dedicated to the translation of ancient texts would feel. Or so I imagine.The buildings were collegiate gothic, old English ala Stratford-upon-Avon, or sleek modern. Maybe it was the trees and manicured lawns that pulled them all together, but it worked. Like I said, Wellesley wins.The place is an all women’s college yet as I walked and wandered no one took notice of me. I was seen but no one acted as if I was out of place. I’m not sure what that means.Maybe it was the lack of the gym short wearing, “dude this is college”, set that had me contemplating selling a kidney to send my daughters here. Whatever it was, I drank it.