As Bowdoin transitioned to coeducation, there were a number of challenges the College faced that it had not anticipated or could not predict. Campus lighting and security was not as established as it is today, and the health center was not prepared to advise on women’s health issues such as birth control and gynecological services. Women’s bathrooms and the availability of menstruation products were also unanticipated needs that arose as women students and faculty joined the Bowdoin community.
Other unforeseen challenges included the need for women proctors and women’s athletic uniforms. When the first women students arrived through the Twelve College Exchange Program, they were not assigned a proctor until the spring semester. The women’s field hockey team, established in 1971, did not initially have uniforms. Instead, they wore men’s soccer uniforms for the first four years. As the College welcomed women to campus, it was unsure which sports and activities would have the most appeal for women. They were prepared to support any new organizations, but the students were responsible for expressing interest before the College provided resources.
These challenges were significant obstacles to overcome during the establishment of an inclusive community for women students, faculty, and staff.