On March 29, The Daily Princetonian published a Letter to the Editor from Susan Patton, alumna and President of the Class of 1977. In her letter, titled “Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had,” she advises Princeton undergraduate women to “find a husband on campus.” She argues that Princeton is the best place for young Princetonian women to find partners who are as intelligent and accomplished as they are — “you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you,” she writes.
This letter has since generated nationwide response and debate. Should finding a husband be a priority for women in college? Should a Princeton woman’s main aim be to marry her “intellectual equal,” and is it more likely, as Patton argues, to find that person at Princeton? And what is the message to women who don’t want to marry men — or marry at all?
Patton’s letter is only the latest in an extensive and nuanced discussion of career-family balance and marriage in these pages and on this campus. Columnist Cameron Langford discussed how Princeton women could reconcile their desires to be “both a mother and a breadwinner,” opinion editor emerita Monica Greco suggested including extended family in child rearing to enable young parents to launch their careers, and guest contributor Margaret Fortney supported Princeton women who want to become stay-at-home mothers. And given the breadth of passionate responses to Patton’s letter — both on campus and across the nation — it’s clear that our community is far from achieving consensus on these issues.
We hope to provide a forum for our campus to continue the conversation.
The Daily Princetonian asked for reactions to Patton’s letter — below are some of the responses we received from alumni, students, faculty and parents.
Sarah Schwartz ’15
To the women of Princeton by Susan Patton ’77
Ambition and all by Haley White ’12
Thanks, but no thanks by Lauren Shanley ’12
A recipe for a failed marriage? by Catherine Tiedemann Morra ’77, Elizabeth Tiedemann Maass ’78 and Charlotte Tiedemann Petersen ’82
What I would say to the young women of Princeton by Priscilla Smart Schwarzenbach ’77
Why not? by Nicole Clarke ’09
Take it or leave it by Lolita Buckner Inniss ’83 S’83 P’09
Beyond Princeton by Kunle Demuren ’11
Advice for the young women of Princeton (and colleges everywhere) by Helen Coster ’98
A paradox by Frederic M. Smith ’83
Marry her! by April Alliston, Professor of Comparative Literature
Baseless assertions by H. Carol Bernstein P’16