Criticism of WSGA

As the WSGA was undergoing change throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the organization was the subject of some criticism on Ohio State’s campus. This criticism served as an external motivator for many of the changes the organization underwent, including their ultimate disbandment. The WSGA Standards Commission was disliked by many students as its function was to enforce women’s rules; thus, the WSGA was a subject of ridicule by not only students but other organizations on campus, such as OSU’s humor magazine, the Sundial. The Lantern, Ohio State’s student-run newspaper, also had opinions on the changes happening within WSGA. During the 1960s, at a point when WSGA still governed women’s rules, the organization was frequently criticized for its pace of change. Many believed liberalization of women’s rules was coming too slowly, with one student writing to the Lantern in 1967 that, “The recent action of what I am told is my ‘voice,’ that is, the Women’s Self Government Association, is reprehensible,” after calling for the abolition of the organization. The action in question here involved WSGA’s avoidance of the liberalization of women’s hours.

When WSGA claimed to eliminate curfews for senior and junior women, but maintained that women living in dorms still had to return to their rooms by 6:30 a.m., Lantern editors criticized the WSGA saying, “The Women’s Self Government Association is incapable of passing legislation that does not have strings attached” (“No Curfews Means No Curfews”). Similarly, it was reported that 16 of 17 sororities on campus voted against the curfew amendment, which continued to govern women under 21 ("WSGA Votes to Abolish Junior, Senior Curfews").

Students and the Lantern were not the only ones who criticized the WSGA. Linda Green, a faculty member and panelist at a SWING (Status of Women in the New Generation) speaker series event, wrote a letter to a WSGA coordinator about her disappointment with the event. Green believed she had been chosen as a panelist as the “token woman,” noting that she felt included only so that WSGA could present itself as inclusive. She also criticized the organization for not including radical liberal groups, African-Americans, or undergraduates on their panel to discuss the youth movement. 

External criticisms such as these were motivation for the WSGA to create change within the organization. They were heavily criticized throughout the 1960s for their legislation, lack of legislation, or legislation with stipulations. This harsh criticism was encouragement for the WSGA to listen to the voices of female students and move toward the abolition of women’s rules. With the abolition of women’s rules, the WSGA no longer existed as a legislative group, and had to reform and shift focus to women’s programming. Critique also helped push the organization towards the politics of the women’s liberation movement. Student and faculty criticism challenged the WSGA’s lack of progress, or as in the case of Linda Green, its perpetuation of patriarchal control and male chauvinist ideals, and prompted the organization to prove their support for women’s social and political freedom.

A letter from Linda Green criticizing WSGA's panel at a SWING Speaker Series event.