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Welcome to Kirkland!

September 3, 2010

In early September, members of Kirkland’s Orientation Committee helped new students find their way. After arriving on campus,many incoming freshwomen were greeted by volunteers who manned folding tables set up near a breezeway that formerly connected McEwen and KJ. For a number of women embarking on academic life at Kirkland, this narrow cobblestone entry represented a symbolic passage between the old life being left behind and the new one about to begin. Upperclasswomen distributed room keys, dorm key cards, student handbooks, and other materials. Some freshwomen in the later classes received two small gifts: a plant and a book.

The miniature plant, obviously, represented new beginnings and echoed the image of the growing apple tree on our college seal. (It is rumored that a Kirkland alumna with an incredible green thumb still has hers after all these years.) What a warm housewarming gift for an empty, sterile dorm room!

The book, on the other hand, offered young women vital practical information. An essential guide of its day, Our Bodies, Ourselves was first published by New England Free Press in 1971. At the time, this book was considered radical for allowing women to share stories and thoughts about their own bodies. Not surprisingly, a number of alumnae still have their editions that were handed out during orientation and subsequently shelved year after year on bookshelves in Clinton—and beyond.

by Jo Pitkin K’78

4 Comments leave one →
  1. kirkie '74 permalink
    September 4, 2010 9:47 am

    When I first arrived at Kirkland I was taken aback by my room. Not all the dorms were finished or named (remember “E” and “D” buildings), so we had to triple up. My alleged double had a bunk bed, one single bed, and three students. I can’t remember how many dressers or desks we had, but it all felt and was pretty crowded.
    I was glad that I was lucky enough to live in suites or singles the rest of my Kirkland years-the rooms were so BIG! ( or maybe it was the wonderful built in closets where I shoved all sorts of clothes,books,furniture and the like that made them feel so big–thanks Ben Thompson).

  2. Beth Klingher '79 permalink
    September 5, 2010 6:40 am

    I still have the small plant given to me on the first day of school – though it has grown into quite a large plant! My daughter, who started Hamilton this fall as a freshman, continues the tradition with a small cutting of my original plant. She’s in Macintosh in a room almost identical to the one I had.

    • September 5, 2010 9:02 pm

      That’s an extraordinary report, Beth! Please encourage your daughter to connect with us, via this website, or the Kirkland mentoring lunch at Fallcoming, or just by tending her shoot from our original seedlings.

  3. Astrid Trostorff permalink
    September 20, 2010 8:32 pm

    I still have the copy – newsprint and stapled on the spine – of Our Bodies, OurSelves that Cassandra Harris handed out to all the freshman in Major dorm in Fall 1972. It’s hard for young people today to understand how radical a publication it was: NY had only recently become the first state to legalize abortion, Roe v. Wade was still ahead; access to contraception, especially for young women, was difficult; gynecology and obstetrics (and medicine, for that matter) was still controlled by men, mostly white; homosexuals and lesbians were still in the closet. This book was empowering.

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