History of Sexism at CSBSJU

Bennie alumni Nancy Bellmont - Class of 1976
Nancy and the first girls basketball team at CSB that Nancy played a pivotal role in forming. She recalls running laps around the dorm halls to stay in shape and sneaking into the gym at night to play before inevitably getting kicked out by security.
Bennie alumni Pat Welter - Class of 1970

Dublin Core


History of Sexism at CSBSJU


Sexism is no secret. Women have consistently faced discrimination in ways both large and small throughout the course of history, and women on the campuses of the College of Saint Benedict’s and Saint John’s University have not been immune. Like many other institutions of higher education, CSB and SJU have felt the long-lasting effects that unaddressed and largely ignored sexist ideals and attitudes have had on our campuses. Unlike other institutions, however, CSB and SJU continue to operate historically and rhetorically as a “College for Men” and a “College for Women.” This literal and figurative gender separation makes our campus environments even more susceptible to the misogynistic and sexist ideals that are deeply rooted in patriarchal assumptions about gendered behavior and cultural stereotypes that commonly plague society and institutions of higher education.

History teaches us about the present, and we believe that learning about how sexism has operated on our campuses in the past is vital for understanding how it operates on our campuses today. This archive serves to shine a light on the sexist ideals and attitudes ingrained into our campus culture that prevent students of all gender identities from flourishing. Learning about this history is crucial for the development of our campus communities as we work to create safe and equitable environments for everyone and foster strong and mutually beneficially relationships across campus lines.

The history being shared comes directly from students enrolled in the inaugural cohort of CSB and SJU’s Honors Program that was re-envisioned and launched in the Fall of 2020 -- students who sought to highlight previously undertold stories of institutionalized and interpersonal sexism at their campuses. Their primary research comes from the institutional and monastic archives of CSB and SJU, primarily through editions of the student newspaper accessed via the archives’ digital collection. The Record had been the St. John’s University student newspaper for over a century before becoming a cross-campus newspaper in the late 1990s. CSB, on the other hand, has had several newspapers come ago; The Torch, The Cable, and The Saints. The information gathered from these sources provides a very personal student account, and the public availability of the documents gives insight into the nature and strength of student culture at various times in history.

There are also many events and situations that the student newspapers potentially could not report on, either for reasons of confidentiality or the potential purpose of maintaining the image of the institutions. Because of this, the information collected from these publications has certain limitations in that it can allude to a long-existing culture of sexism, but specific events that have occurred throughout history as a result of this culture may not be stated explicitly. To bridge this gap, the students supplemented their archival research with the oral histories of two CSB alumnae, Nancy Bellmont (class of 1974) and Pat Welter (class of 1970), as well as various documents and resources uncovered in the archives that are not classified as a student newspaper.


“History of Sexism at CSBSJU,” College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Libraries, accessed June 14, 2024, https://csbsjulib.omeka.net/items/show/1605.