A 1980 Student Survey and 1981 Faculty Survey on coeducation at Washington and Lee University revealed a positive attitude toward coeducation. Interest in coeducation reemerged in 1980 after failed attempts in 1896, 1902, and 1975 to make the University coed. David Bowen ’83 conducted a survey as part of his senior honors thesis titled “Coeducation at Washington and Lee University: A Social Systems Approach.” At the end of Winter Term 1980, Bowen and members of the Sociology 375 class called “Research Methods” surveyed 1,050 out of 1,200 students to gauge their attitudes toward coeducation. They considered the following variables: geographic background, class, religious preference, family income, and grade point average. They then asked questions such as “Was W&L’s single sex student body a factor in your decision to enroll?” They sought to understand the impact that coeducation would have on social and academic environments at W&L. In the student survey “Should W&L Become Coeducational?” 50.2% were in favor of coeducation. The survey conductors found that students from the South opposed coeducation more frequently than students from the North. In the faculty survey, 92 out of 115 faculty members participated. Of that 68%, 77% of faculty members favored coeducation. The surveys found that the need for a “realistic environment” motivated students and faculty to support coeducation at Washington and Lee.
Exhibit I: “Selectivity of Some Institutions, / Including Washington and Lee, / By Percentages of Applicants Admitted in 1983.” This exhibit notes that W&L accepted 57 percent of applicants in 1983. By comparison, Harvard, Williams, and the University of Virginia accepted 18, 28, and 35 percent of applicants, respectively, in 1983.
Exhibit II: “Academic Statistics / Washington and Lee, College Board Scores.” This exhibit cites that W&L’s scores from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (now the SAT), fell a collective 127 points across verbal and math between 1965 and 1975 and only marginally recovered (a collective 13 points across verbal and math) from 1975 to 1983.
Exhibit III: “Academic Statistics / Washington and Lee.” This exhibit highlights that the falling quality of applicants who enrolled in the University. For example, the exhibit reports that there was a 70 percent decline in the number of admitted freshmen who had an SAT Verbal score over 650.