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Flashback Friday: Stanford abolishes sororities in 1944

In April 1944, then-Stanford president Donald Tressider announced the decision to abolish sororities on Stanford’s campus. The Daily’s article from April 27, 1944 is reprinted below.

Sororities Abolished

Speaking in the way that has won him student admiration, Dr. Donald B. Tresidder, president of Stanford University, told the women of the University last night that he had been authorized by the Board of Trustees to announce that sororities on this campus will be discontinued and that women’s housing will be unified under University ownership and supervision.

The Education Auditorium was packed, and women were sitting in the aisles and on the stage steps when they rose to applaud the present as he left the stage. A moment later, as the audience spontaneously broke into the Stanford Hymn, he walked back on stage to join them.

As the last notes ended, he said, “That was the nicest thing you could have done.”

Decision Held

He did not announce the decision of the board until he had gone through the events which led up to the board’s consideration of the sorority problem.

He took the audience back to early 1943, when 13 Roble sponsors sent the board a letter stating their dissatisfaction with the sorority system at Stanford. The board chose a committee out of their number, consisting of Mr. George A. Ditz, Mr. Leland W. Cutler, Mr. W. Palmer Fuller Jr., Mrs. Roger Goodan, Mr. Ira S. Lillick, and Judge M. C. Sloss.

This group met with 19 women students representing both sides of the issue in March of that year and this was followed by letters and more meetings with alumnae and friends of Stanford.

 The Failure of Plans

“In September, I came as president, along with the Army,” said Dr. Tresidder, as he went on to tell of subsequent plans which had been considered by Panhellenic but rejected by one or more houses.

He told of more meetings, conferences with campus leaders, and finally of many fine things which sororities have done for the University.

In conclusion, he praised the cooperation of row women in trying to find a solution and then announced the decision, which was received, as he had asked, without demonstration of any kind.

Transcribed by Josie Hodson