According to this article at Inside Higher Ed,“[a]dministrators at Northeast Lakeview College, a recently founded institution located outside of San Antonio, are defending a decision to bar women from a public speaking course launched in 2007.” The article continues:
The male-only course, “Introduction to Speech Communication,” is offered in coeducational sections as well, which college officials say should satisfy federal discrimination laws.
“We’re not denying anyone access to a speech class,” said Eric Reno, president of Northeast Lakeview College. “That’s not the intent of it.”
Read through the whole article, which links this move to larger fears about the dwindling presence of men in college classrooms:
There are, however, other data that indicate a pressing problem nationally. Male participation in undergraduate educationdropped from 52 percent to 43 percent between 1976 and 2004, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. At Northeast Lakeview, the male to female ratio on campus is now about 40 percent to 60 percent, according to college officials.
(That 60-40 ratio seems pretty typical for community colleges, by the way. And Baa Ram U., my R1 institution, has a majority of female undergraduates, too.) I’m not particularly opposed to this, but I don’t see any evidence in the article (or know of any evidence otherwise) that a men-only class might be desirable, let alone more effective than a co-ed class. Are any of you Speech Communications experts who can provide some context? Do college men have a paralyzing fear of public speaking before co-ed audiences? Do men perform better when women are not in the classroom?
In my experience, men and women are equally bright and capable, but women apply themselve more in college than the men do, which is why they get better grades and have higher graduation rates. (Remember that New York Times article a few years ago that vividly illustrated the difference between men’s and women’s achievements in college?) I can’t tell you how many of my male advisees plop down in my office in their Senior year and announce their intention to go to law school or grad school. When I open their file and see a 2.8 G.P.A. on their transcript, I have to tell them, “you should have thought of that two years ago, pal!” And yet, from where I sit, it seems like men still rule the world. They hold the vast majority of elective offices in this country. They’re by far the majority of regular faculty members at Baa Ram U. They still hold the vast majority of the world’s wealth.
What do you think? Do men need all-male sections of intro classes in order to help them succeed? Or do some college men just need a swift kick in the pants?