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.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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