Home | News | King’s goes co-ed: UQ college opens its doors to women for the first time
Photo: kings.uq.edu.au

King’s goes co-ed: UQ college opens its doors to women for the first time

The age of kings is going co-ed at the University of Queensland. Next year, the institution’s King’s College will be opening its doors to women for the very first time.

After exclusively housing male students for over a century, the residential college “does not believe King’s College can be contemporary as a male-only campus,” said its council’s president, Dr Brett Robinson.

In its decision, the St Lucia college follows a worldwide trend towards a more gender inclusive university culture. Oxford University’s last all-male college, St Benet’s, went co-ed in 2015, and in 2017, Yale students were given the option to live in mixed-gender bedrooms and suites.

As with its overseas counterparts, King’s College hopes to create a fairer representation of broader society on campus in order to remain relevant.

“The strength of a community is in its diversity and shared values,” said council member Kathleen Newcombe.

“Becoming co-residential enables King’s College to continue to drive those important values in the context of our contemporary way of life.”

While the transition from an all-male model to a co-residential one marks a significant milestone, master and chief executive of the college Greg Eddy notes that women already have a significant presence in the community.

“Women have always been welcome at King’s College and are in fact a large part of college life here through academic, cultural and sporting pursuits,” he said.

Some degree of gender segregation will continue however, with undergraduate and post-graduate female students to be housed on separate floors and wings. Female staff will be available on-site to provide resources and support.

Allegations of sexism and violence have dogged several all-male colleges in Australia, with some media outlets accusing them of prioritising tradition over progressive values. In 2009, a pro-rape Facebook group was created by students at University of Sydney’s all-male college St Paul’s. The college – which is also Australia’s oldest – would later resist participating in a university-wide review into attitudes of misogyny.

In 2018, King’s College alumnus Simon Graham attested to a culture of toxic masculinity within the ranks of so-called ‘Kingsmen’.

“Flippant sexism and collective shaming was the norm,” he wrote in an article for VICE Australia, entitled ‘How Living at an All-Male College Made Me a Sexist Douchebag’.

King’s College Old Collegians’ Association president Blake Miller believes that the break from tradition is timely.

“While becoming a co-residential college means a departure from the past, the move will enable King’s to continue to contribute to the growth and development of future generations and that excites me.

Becoming co-residential will maintain the mission of King’s College to provide the best opportunities for young people at university while allowing another, wider generation of students to experience its vibrant community.”

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