UPDATE: An Open Letter to the Smith Community from Carol Christ

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Like many of you, I was shocked and dismayed by the recent letter to the Sophian by an alumna from the Class of 1984, and I have been buoyed and impressed by the logic, eloquence, and passion of the responses of the Smith community. It is my cardinal belief that diversity strengthens education for all, and that the very core of Smith’s mission—its founding principle—is providing educational opportunity for those who have less access to it. That was Sophia Smith’s dream—that by founding a college for women, she could redress their wrongs, adjust their wages, and increase their influence in society.
The letter writer is ignorant about a number of issues. Admission to Smith is far more competitive now than it was in the 1980s, when the letter writer attended Smith. We now have the highest number of applicants and the lowest admit rate in our history. The most competitively admitted students at Smith are international students on financial aid; only 10% of applicants are admitted. The strongest and most consistent correlation with SAT scores is family income. Most students do submit scores and we, of course, submit them to all of the data-collecting organizations in which we participate, including U.S. News & World Report.
I am proud of the increase in the diversity of Smith over the past decade; we are all the richer for it.

Carol T. Christ


We’re proud too, Carol.

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10 Comments on “UPDATE: An Open Letter to the Smith Community from Carol Christ”

  1. Monica Kaufman says:

    Are we sure this isn’t the logic class stirring up hysteria like last year’s all-vegetarian meals incident? At least I’d like to hope this person wouldn’t be so opinionated when her facts are suspect.

    • minkandvelvet says:

      Well, we can’t be sure (I actually thought that for a minute myself) but I’m really hoping that no current Smithie could even have those thoughts or use such awful writing skills!

      • minkandvelvet says:

        continuing this thought, a quick google search can find junior league of bronxville, ny info with her name on it, so yes it’s real.

  2. Stephanie Ross '86 says:

    Carol – Thank you, as always, for a thoughtful, measured response.

    In December, my daughter was accepted early decision to Smith. I was proud of her. Yesterday, after reading Ms. Spurzem’s disquieting letter and many of the responses to it, my pride doubled, maybe even quadrupled. Not only am I proud of my daughter. I am proud of the Smith community for its response to such hurtful, ignorant remarks. I am proud of Smith’s president for her forward-thinking leadership. And I am proud of the diverse group of talented, capable, young women who will be my daughter’s classmates. To those in the class of 2016 admitted to date CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishment. It is an honor to have you join the Smith community.

    • Ginetta Candelario says:

      Hi Stephanie! I’m now a tenured faculty member at Smith and look forward to meeting your daughter…All best, Ginetta (Parsons House, Amy’s friend)…

  3. Dear Carol,

    Thanks for your insightful, clear-headed response to Anne Spurzem’s letter. I don’t know her at all and can only hope and pray that she was having a particularly bad day when she wrote it. My next Smith reunion–in about fifteen months–will be my 40th, and on none of my visits there since graduation in 1973, whether I’ve gone up for a reunion (all but the first, in 1978) or some other occasion such as a concert, when I’ve been more likely to encounter a large number of current students, have I noticed a decline in the caliber of Smith’s student body, faculty, libraries, musical and other cultural offerings, or classes. If Smith makes it possible for qualified young women to attend the college when their families’ finances would impede that, more power to Smith…and as for their ethnic background, religion, or anything else that has no bearing on their academic ability, since when is “diversity” a dirty word?

  4. My father’s parents were poor; should that have prevented him from attending Harvard? I’ve had gay friends and supervisors who have enriched my life and whose premature deaths have broken my heart and the hearts of everyone we knew. Smith is not worse or poorer for its diversity, it’s better and richer…like the rest of this country.

  5. Mary Williamson says:

    I did not even consider attending Smith in the 1970’s (it was a different world then and a poor family from Texas sent their students to school in Texas), but I was delighted when my daughter had the opportunity to do so in the mid-2000’s. One of her first comments home was ‘Mom, it’s wonderful. I am surrounded by women who aren’t AFRAID to be smart!’. Isn’t that what we all want for our daughters?

  6. Teresa Vazquez-Dodero says:

    As one of the recipients of the scholarships that Ms. Spurzem speaks so negatively about, I would like to remind her about the meaning of diversity. It has little to do with charity. Diversity is about creating genius ideas. Shall we remember that pioneering on diversity is one of the principles that served as a basis for the higher education of women to begin with. Smith was an alternative to learning how to sew and entertain husbands. That was genius, but I am sure many women contemporaries were appalled at the idea of intellectualizing women in general.
    Diversity is not just a means to reverse historical social atrocities, but an opportunity to expand the very limited point of view, area of experience and possibility of hitting brilliance of those solely exposed to copies of themselves and private tutors. In medicine alone, it wasn’t until women were part of the body of physicians that the institution began to research how women were differently affected by illness. Same thing goes to diseases that affect people differently because of their ethnicity or “race.”
    Rich white girls, and their parents, I am sure, realize how privileged and lucky they are to be able to share their minds with brilliant women from all over the socio-economic ladder, the world and the skin color scale, because that is exactly what they might have been missing out on in their private lessons and schools, and that might also be exactly what they need to reach that unique, original concept that creates genius.

  7. rebecca m says:

    To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I could gain admittance to Smith now were I a high school senior. I’m class of ’02, and Smith was my top college when I applied. I wanted to go to an all-womens’ college because I wanted an environment that was supportive, not competitive, where learning was the goal, not GPA. I got all that, in spades, and while I haven’t been able to give back to the Smith community due to various reasons, this whole kerfluffle has made me aware I want to find other alums in my area and reach out to them.

    I’m proud to be a Smithie and always have been. Thank you, Ms. Christ, for reminding everyone that one small-minded alum does not speak for us.

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